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Should You Stop Eating Kale Salad Every Day?

According to researchers, leafy vegetables are excellent at extracting hazardous metals like thallium from the earth.

As of late, kale’s really been getting around. People juice with the superfood, cook it as a side, use it as salads and entrees, and even make snacks of it. But could the cruciferous powerhouse be (gasp!) harming you? Depending on where you live, maybe, according to an article published in Craftsmanship

The article highlights the bizarre findings of alternative medicine researcher and molecular biologist, Ernie Hubbard, in his clinic located in Marin County, California. Hubbard was analyzing clients’ urine samples for an unrelated detoxification study and noticed multiple people registered high for levels of thallium and cesium—two heavy metals that are poisonous when consumed in excess—even before the detox regimen began. And when the regimen did begin, thallium continued to show up. 

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Puzzled, Hubbard did some digging and found research showing how cruciferous vegetables (i.e. broccoli and kale) are excellent at extracting toxic heavy metals from soil. Symptoms associated with thallium poisoning include fatigue, brain fog, heart arrhythmia, and in more severe cases, hair loss and neurological problems. The prevalence in reports is being seen more and more frequently, according to Hubbard and scientist David Quig, of Chicago-based lab Doctor's Data.

Here’s what you need to know:

-Thallium isn’t naturally present in vegetables. It has to find it’s way into the soil first. According to the University of Minnesota, the major sources of contamination are from lead-based paint (likely from old building’s paint chips mixed in with soil), and auto emissions (urban areas and soil close to busy streets are most susceptible). 

-It’s not just kale; other vegetables (especially leafy greens) can easily pick up heavy metals.

-Organic farms are susceptible too; if energy companies burn coal, then sell it as fertilizer, crops absorb thallium, which their digestive system rejects, and when we recycle their manure for more fertilizer, the cycle continues.

Hubbard's next plan of action is to try and grow a specific variety of kale that isn't attracted to thallium. Stay tuned. 

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