Brain and Body

Think Twice Before Consuming Kale and Green Tea at the Same Time, New Research Warns

March 15, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Photo credit:

Sometimes combining two healthy things isn’t the smartest move.

Kale is good for you, and green tea is good for you, but for your body’s sake, it’s best to avoid consuming the two at the same time or one after another.

A new study suggests that consuming green tea along with dietary iron, such as red meat or leafy greens like kale and spinach, can actually lessen the powerful benefits of green tea.

“If you drink green tea after an iron-rich meal, the main compound in the tea will bind to the iron,” Matam Vijay-Kumar, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, said in a press release. “When that occurs, the green tea loses its potential as an antioxidant.

SEE ALSO: Do You Know the Real Difference Between Red and Green Peppers?

Vijay-Kumar says it’s best to avoid consuming green tea with iron-rich foods and iron supplements if you want to reap all of its benefits.

“The benefit of green tea depends on the bioavailability of its active components,” said first author of the study Beng San Yeoh, a graduate student in immunology and infectious diseases. “It is not only a matter of what we eat, but also when we eat and what else we eat with it.”

Further, Vijay-Kumar and his team found that the main compound in green tea, called EGCG, potently inhibits a pro-inflammatory enzyme released by white blood cells, called myeloperoxidase. This inactivation could be beneficial in weakening inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flare-ups.

However, when this main compound in green tea is consumed at the same time as iron, iron-bound EGCG loses its ability to inhibit the enzyme that weakens IBD flare-ups.

Since IBD leads to chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, the condition is often accompanied by pain, fatigue, diarrhea, weight loss, and other symptoms like iron deficiency and anemia. Therefore, it’s common for IBD patients to take iron supplements.

The researchers say that consuming green tea and iron supplements at the same time would result in both nutrients binding and thus canceling each other’s benefits out — a highly counterproductive combination.

“It is important that IBD patients who take both iron supplements and green tea know how one nutrient affects the other,” Vijay-Kumar says. “The information from the study could be helpful for both people who enjoy green tea and drink it for its general benefits, as well as people who use it specifically to treat illnesses and conditions.”

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the results are published in the American Journal of Pathology.

Looking for some more nutrition information? Check out 8 of the most common nutrition myths debunked by science.

Hot Topics

Facebook comments