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Is it OK to put raw kale in a smoothie?

Putting raw kale in a smoothie is totally fine and actually has some great health benefits. Kale is a nutritious leafy green that blends up well in smoothies. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of adding raw kale to your smoothies.

Pros of Putting Raw Kale in Smoothies

Here are some of the main benefits of adding raw kale to smoothies:

  • Nutrient density – Kale is low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium and more. Blending it into smoothies helps you easily consume these nutrients.
  • Antioxidants – Kale contains antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol which can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Blendability – Kale’s leafy texture blends up well in smoothies for a creamy, smooth consistency.
  • Mild flavor – When blended, raw kale has a mild flavor that works well with fruits, greens, nut milks and more.
  • Satiety – The fiber in kale can help make smoothies more filling and satisfying.

Overall, adding raw kale to smoothies is an easy way to increase your vegetable intake and nutrient consumption.

Potential Cons of Raw Kale in Smoothies

There are a couple potential downsides to putting raw kale in smoothies:

  • Taste – For some, kale’s bitterness may overpower the other smoothie ingredients. Using sweeter fruits can help balance this.
  • Texture – If not blended enough, bits of kale can leave a gritty or fibrous texture.
  • Gas or bloating – Some people may experience gas or stomach discomfort from raw kale due to its fiber content.
  • Oxalates – Kale contains oxalic acid which may contribute to kidney stone formation in those prone to them.

These issues can be minimized by fully blending the kale, starting with small amounts, and avoiding overconsumption if you experience any digestive issues.

Best Practices for Using Kale in Smoothies

Here are some tips for smoothly incorporating kale into your smoothies:

  • Start with a handful of kale – Around 1 cup of chopped kale is a good starting point.
  • Remove kale stems – The thick stems can lead to a fibrous texture.
  • Tear kale into pieces – This helps it blend more smoothly.
  • Blend kale with liquids – Add kale after initial blending to help it puree.
  • Blend thoroughly – Blend for 1-2 minutes to fully break down the kale leaves.
  • Pair with fruits – Sweet fruits like mango, pineapple and banana complement kale’s flavor.
  • Add nuts, seeds or nut butters – This helps create creaminess and mask any bitterness.
  • Use milk or yogurt – Dairy or non-dairy milks/yogurt help achieve a smooth consistency.
  • Sweeten if needed – Small amounts of honey, maple syrup or dates can improve taste.
  • Store properly – Drink green smoothies made with kale within 24 hours for best quality.

Kale Smoothie Recipes

Here are 3 tasty kale smoothie recipes to try:

Berry Kale Smoothie

  • 1 cup kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

Green Goodness Smoothie

  • 1 cup kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, frozen
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp lime juice

Tropical Kale Smoothie

  • 1 cup kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup mango chunks, frozen
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple, frozen
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp honey

Choosing the Best Kale for Smoothies

Not all kale is created equal when it comes to smoothie making. Here’s how to pick the best kale:

Type Characteristics Best For
Curly kale Ruffled leaves, soft texture, mild flavor Smoothies – blends easily
Lacinato kale Long, dark leaves, more bitter taste Adds nutrition – not the best texture
Red kale Purple stems, reddish leaves, bitter taste Color and nutrients – not ideal for texture

Curly green kale, also sometimes called Scotch kale, has a milder flavor and softer texture compared to other varieties making it the best type of kale for smoothies.

Kale Smoothie FAQs

Does blending kale reduce its nutrients?

Blending kale into smoothies does not significantly degrade its nutrient content. According to research, around 88-99% of vitamins and antioxidants are retained after blending and processing kale in a high-power blender or juicer.

Is raw kale toxic?

Raw kale contains compounds like glucosinolates and oxalic acid. But the amounts found in kale are very low and not considered toxic. As with any vegetable, kale is safe to consume in normal food amounts and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Can you use frozen kale in smoothies?

Frozen kale works great in smoothies. Freezing helps break down kale’s fibers, making it blend more smoothly. Make sure to thaw frozen kale first or use a high-power blender. Add some extra liquid to account for the ice crystals on the kale.

Should you remove kale stems from smoothies?

It’s best to remove kale stems before adding kale leaves to smoothies. The thick stems are fibrous and can leave a grainy texture. Simply hold the base of the kale leaf and tear the leaves away from the stem.

How much kale can you put in a smoothie?

For most smoothies, a good amount of raw kale to add is around 1 loosely packed cup of chopped leaves. This gives you some health benefits without overpowering the other ingredients. Start with less if you’re new to kale smoothies.


Putting raw kale in smoothies is perfectly safe and provides a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Focus on curly green kale for the best texture and pair with sweeter fruits and creamy ingredients to mask bitterness. Start with a handful of kale and blend thoroughly for a refreshing, nutrient-packed beverage that benefits your health.