Charting The Kale Curve

by Brandi Newell
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Charting The Kale Curve

First it crept onto our menus: kale caesar salads, kale and lentil soups, sautéed kale on the side. Then we noticed it showing up on t-shirts and sweatshirts, like this one worn by Beyoncé last February. But this Halloween, when we saw a ‘sexy kale’ costume, we knew it was time to dig into the data and get a handle on this leafy trend. No one has been this enthusiastic about a green since Popeye.



So, we peeked into our MyFitnessPal database and looked at the percentage of foods logged each day that contained the word ‘kale.’ Over the last four years, kale has risen from virtual anonymity to a full-blown green sensation. Since 2011, the amount of kale eaten by MyFitnessPal members has increased by 710%.

kale growth

Image courtesy of Jenny Chang for BuzzFeed

Taking a closer look, we see that kale consumption more than doubled in 2012 and 2013, with year-over-year growth rates of about 135%. And still holding strong this year, kale consumption has increased another 46%.

Kale Is a Sometimes Food

However, not all days are created equal when it comes to incorporating kale into your diet. Holidays, for example, are no time to be overly healthy: as you can see from the dips in the graph below, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the Fourth of July are among the lowest kale consumption days of the year. And last week, Thanksgiving showed the most precipitous drop of the year so far, clocking in a full 67% below the Thursday before.


Image courtesy of Jenny Chang for BuzzFeed

When are people eating the most kale? January. The first week of the new year is business time: members hit their peak kale day this year on January 6th, just as they were buckling down to meet their resolutions.

January 6

Image courtesy of Jenny Chang for BuzzFeed

MyFitnessPal members also show a clear preference for eating kale during the workweek as compared to the weekends. Zooming in on this October, members ate 20% more kale Monday through Thursday than they did Friday through Sunday.

weekends v weekdays

Image courtesy of Jenny Chang for BuzzFeed

Ready to hop on the kale bandwagon? Try one of these tasty recipes:

Drunken Potato and Kale Soup
Kale Caesar Quinoa Salad with Roasted Chicken
Easy Balsamic Glazed Salmon and Massaged Kale Salad
Refreshing Kale & Pear Smoothie
Stuffed Chicken & Sautéed Kale with Pine Nuts

We had a lot of fun putting this together with our friends at BuzzFeed. Check out their take on our kale data here.

About the Author

Brandi Newell

Brandi Newell is the Manager of Research and Insights at MyFitnessPal. She uses qualitative and quantitative methods to help understand what people want and need to live healthier lives. Her background includes a master’s degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Harvard University and unseemly amounts of cooking, hiking, and yoga.


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