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How do you make kale less gassy?

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, some people experience digestive issues like gas and bloating after eating kale. While kale does contain some compounds that can cause gas, there are several methods you can use to make it more digestible and minimize gas and bloating.

Why Kale Causes Gas

There are a few reasons why kale can lead to gas and bloating for some people:

  • Fiber – Kale contains a high amount of fiber, around 2-3 grams per cup. Fiber is good for digestion but too much at once can cause gas.
  • Raffinose – This is a complex sugar found in cruciferous veggies like kale. The body cannot fully break raffinose down, so bacteria in the gut ferment it leading to gas.
  • Fructans – These are FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols). Like raffinose, fructans can be hard to digest and get fermented by gut bacteria.
  • Sulforaphane – This phytochemical gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter taste. It is linked to many health benefits but may also cause gas for sensitive individuals.

The high fiber and FODMAP content make kale more likely to cause gas and bloating than other veggies. However, there are ways to prepare kale to make it better tolerated.

Tips to Make Kale Less Gassy

Here are 8 helpful tips to make kale more digestible and reduce gas:

1. Remove the Tough Stems

The thick, fibrous stems of kale leaves are hard to break down and can cause major gas. Cut or tear the leaves off the stems before cooking or eating raw kale. The tender leafy parts are much gentler on digestion.

2. Chop It Finely

Cutting, shredding or chopping kale into very small pieces helps maximize the surface area for digestion. The smaller the pieces, the easier it will be to break down in the stomach and intestines.

3. Massage Raw Kale

For salads, massage raw kale leaves for a few minutes before eating. This helps tenderize the leaves so they are less likely to cause gas. Add a splash of lemon juice or oil to help soften the leaves as you massage.

4. Cook Thoroughly

Cooking kale helps soften the cell walls and fiber, making it easier to digest. Lightly steaming, sautéing or blanching kale can help reduce raffinose, inulin and other anti-nutrients linked to gas. Just don’t overcook it into mush.

5. Add Acid like Lemon Juice

Sprinkle some lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or other acid over cooked kale or raw kale salads. The acid helps break down some of the fibrous compounds, making the leaves more digestible.

6. Use Baby Kale

Baby kale leaves or microgreens have a more tender texture and contain less fiber per serving than mature kale leaves. This makes them gentler on digestion for sensitive individuals.

7. Take a Digestive Enzyme

Consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement alongside high-fiber meals containing kale. Enzymes like alpha-galactosidase help break down hard-to-digest compounds in vegetables like kale that can cause gas.

8. Change Amounts Gradually

If kale consistently causes gas, start with small servings like 1⁄4 cup cooked or 1 cup raw. Slowly increase the amount over a few weeks to allow your body time to adjust to the fiber and other compounds.

Other Tips to Prevent Gas from Kale

Here are some other helpful tips to make kale less likely to cause flatulence and bloating:

  • Drink plenty of water to help move fiber through the digestive tract
  • Chew kale thoroughly to aid digestion
  • Limit high-fiber foods at the same meal as kale
  • Introduce kale gradually if you’re not used to eating high-fiber veggies
  • Avoid raw juicing of kale if you have a sensitive stomach
  • Take a probiotic to support healthy digestion of plant foods

Most Gas-Causing Compounds in Kale

These are some of the specific compounds found in kale that are most likely to cause gas and bloating issues:

Compound Type Gas-Causing Mechanism
Inulin FODMAP Fermented by gut bacteria
Raffinose Galacto-oligosaccharide Not fully broken down and fermented by bacteria
Cellulose Insoluble fiber Hard to digest, adds bulk
Sulforaphane Isothiocyanate Irritating to sensitive individuals

Alternative Leafy Greens Less Likely to Cause Gas

For some people sensitive to digestive issues from kale, swapping it for lower fiber leafy greens may help. Here are some good alternatives:

  • Spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Butter lettuce
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Baby spring mix
  • Chard
  • Arugula

These leafy greens have nutrition benefits with a lower amount of insoluble fiber per serving. Starting with these and gradually reintroducing kale may help adapt digestion.

Cooking Methods to Reduce Gas from Kale

These cooking methods can help reduce compounds that cause gas and make kale easier to digest:


Lightly steaming kale for 3-5 minutes softens fibers and makes cell walls more permeable. This allows digestive enzymes to access and break down more of the nutrients.


Sautéing or stir-frying kale quickly in olive oil helps soften leaves. Cooking with oil aids absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K.


Dropping kale leaves into boiling water for 1 minute then plunging into cold water helps reduce some anti-nutrients while maintaining texture.


Roasting chopped kale with olive oil, salt and pepper concentrates flavors and reduces some gas-causing compounds.


Kale is incredibly nutritious, but it can cause gas, bloating or other digestion issues for some people. Choosing young, tender leaves, massaging or cooking kale thoroughly, and starting with small servings can all help reduce gas from kale. Pairing it with gentler greens or digestive enzymes may also be beneficial. With a few tweaks to preparation method and amount, most people can enjoy kale without uncomfortable side effects.