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The Kale Factor: Why Marketing Fast Food As A Healthy Option Is Not Completely Accurate

Kale is all the rage among those who like to eat healthy. It’s become so popular, in fact, that major fast food restaurants like McDonald’s are even considering adding it to their menus.

Would adding some kale to junk food really make a difference in the health content, though? Certainly, getting more vegetables in your diet is a good thing. However, if the rest of your diet has very little nutritional content, you can’t expect kale to make that much of a difference in your health.

Why Kale Is So Popular

Kale is often called a “superfood” because it is rich in nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, fiber, iron, and potassium. These nutrients can help to improve bone health and digestion and prevent heart disease. It also packs an impressive amount of protein, considering it’s fairly low in calories; one cup of kale is about 40 calories, but it has nearly 3 grams of protein.

For all of these reasons, kale is a great addition to your diet. Kale may be a trendy thing, but it’s certainly something you should consider sticking with for the long haul.

Fast Food Joints Are Jumping on the Kale Bandwagon

Now that kale is at the height of popularity, it’s slowly making its way into the mainstream. Recent internet buzz has revealed that McDonald’s is testing menu items with kale. As far as restaurants go, you can’t get much more mainstream than McDonald’s.

It’s certainly an interesting choice for McDonald’s, considering the restaurant’s ad for Big Macs a few months ago, which stated that the Big Mac would “never be kale.” The whole ad was a bit of a dig at health food fanatics, but now it seems the company sees the value in offering healthier options, too.

When you think, “McDonald’s,” images of fresh fruits and vegetables probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, it might surprise you to learn that McDonald’s is one of the country’s largest buyers and sellers of the fruits and vegetables offered on its menu. If McDonald’s does end up adding kale to their menu, it could make kale more widely available.

It’s great that fast food restaurants are starting to offer up healthier alternatives, but is it ultimately enough to negate the unhealthy aspects of fast food? Probably not.

Kale Isn’t a Miracle-Worker

If kale is so wonderful, we should be able to just throw it on our cheeseburgers and reap the health benefits, right? Not exactly.

McDonald’s isn’t proposing that we eat Big Macs with kale. Right now, they’re testing a breakfast bowl with kale, egg white, and turkey sausage. With a reasonable 240 calories and 26 grams of protein, and only 6 grams of carbs, it doesn’t look like a bad option on the surface. However, it also contains 810 milligrams of sodium.

For comparison, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you should limit your daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams. If you over 50 or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, you shouldn’t exceed 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Either way, 810 milligrams is a pretty significant portion of that.

Sodium is just one of the problems with fast food. Aside from that, fast food is often loaded with carbohydrates, sugar, and unhealthy fats that make you more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and kidney disease, among other problems.

Kale may be a “superfood,” but it can’t fix all of those problems.

Healthy eating is a lifestyle. We can’t expect to add in a little kale, or any other healthy food, and be able to call it a healthy meal. It’s ok to visit the drive-thru every once in awhile, but we can’t pretend that we’re getting anything remotely healthy. We need to commit to making fresh, healthy foods part of our everyday lives to truly get healthier.