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Kale vs Spinach: Which is Better?


Kale

Both kale and spinach are healthy, nutrient-dense vegetables that have been associated with numerous health benefits. But which is better, kale or spinach, when it comes to providing your body with essential nutrients and warding off disease? Below, we provide a side-by-side comparison of the nutrient content of kale vs spinach as well as an overview of some of the most interesting health benefits of each. In addition, we look at how these two powerhouse foods fare against each other in terms of other factors such as culinary uses, ideal storage conditions, and availability.


Nutrition Facts

Kale is packed with minerals like calcium and potassium, and it contains a whopping 4 grams of fiber per 100 grams, which corresponds to 16 percent of the Daily Value for this important macronutrient. In terms of vitamins, kale is packed with beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A, as well as vitamins C, K, B6 and B9. Given its impressive nutritional credentials, it is not surprising that kale has been lauded as a superfood.

If you compare the nutrient content of spinach with that of kale, you will notice that spinach is actually a better source of many nutrients than kale. For example, spinach has been reported to contain more magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and folate than kale, which makes you wonder why aren't there more headlines touting spinach as a superfood. Spinach is also an excellent source of manganese, and vitamins A, K and C, plus it contains plenty of vitamin E, calcium and iron.

It is worth noting, though, that the iron in spinach is so-called non-heme iron which is not as well absorbed by your body as the heme iron you get from animal foods.

The following Kale vs Spinach comparison chart highlights the key differences in the nutrient content of these two green leafy vegetables in their raw, uncooked state. A value in bold means that a 100-gram serving the food covers at least 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient in question.

Nutrient (per 100 g)KaleSpinach
Protein4.28 g2.86 g
Fat0.93 g0.39 g
Carbohydrates8.75 g3.63 g
Fiber3.6 g2.2 g
Calcium150 mg99 mg
Iron1.47 mg2.71 mg
Magnesium47 mg79 mg
Potassium491 mg558 mg
Vitamin A9990 IU9377 IU
Vitamin C120 mg28.1 mg
Vitamin K704.8 mcg482.9 mcg
Thiamin0.11 mg0.078 mg
Riboflavin0.13 mg0.189 mg
Niacin1.00 mg0.724 mg
Vitamin B60.271 mg0.195 mg
Folate (B9)141 mcg194 mcg

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28


Health Benefits

Low in calories and supercharged with nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals, both kale and spinach have been associated with a number of potential health benefits. Kale, for example, may help slow the progression of certain age-related diseases and aging in general because of its exceptionally strong antioxidant properties. Eating cruciferous vegetables such as kale and cabbage may also help reduce your risk of developing cancer because it contains glucosinolates which can be converted into isothiocyanates in your digestive tract. Isothiocyanates are powerful compounds that have been shown to inhibit the proliferation of cancerous cells and to promote their self-destruction.

As for the health benefits of spinach, research shows that a high intake of spinach is associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration, which may be linked to the high beta-carotene content of spinach. Research also shows that raw, uncooked spinach has exceptionally strong bile acid binding capacity, which is indicative of strong cholesterol-lowering potential, and spinach-enriched diets have been shown to reduce neurodegenerative changes and damage from ischemic stroke in animals.


Culinary Uses

Some great ways to use kale include topping a pizza with kale leaves marinated in olive oil, making tasty kale smoothies using young kale leaves, and incorporating some chopped kale into omelets and muffin batters. If you are lucky enough to have a juicer that can handle greens like kale or spinach, you may also want to try making some nutrient-packed kale juice. Or, try making your own kale chips seasoned with nutritional yeast in an oven or a food dehydrator.

Like kale, spinach is a versatile ingredient that works well in a variety of recipes. The sturdy texture of mature spinach makes it perfect for cooked dishes, such as soups and omelets, whereas the tender, mild-flavored baby spinach is best used raw or lightly wilted. In smoothies, baby spinach pairs particularly well with fresh mango (try, for example, this blueberry, spinach and mango smoothie).


Storage

Both kale and spinach are best stored in ziplock bags or plastic containers in the crisper drawer in the fridge. Whether you are storing kale or spinach, try wrapping the washed and dried leaves in paper towels before putting them in the bags or containers—the paper towels absorb excess moisture from the greens and help prevent them from getting slimy.

If you think you won't be able to use up your greens before they start to wilt, you can also freeze them for later use. Note, though, that regardless of whether you are freezing kale or spinach, you should blanch your greens first in order to protect their nutritional value, color and flavor. To blanch kale or spinach, boil or steam the leaves for two minutes, then immediately transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water for two minutes to stop the cooking process.


Availability

Both fresh and frozen kale and spinach are available year round. What's more, some health food stores and online retailers carry kale powder and spinach powder which are also great options because they take up less storage space in your kitchen than their fresh or frozen counterparts. These powders are perfect for smoothies, soups, omelets, muffins, and more, and they are in many ways just as healthy as their fresh and frozen counterparts.

Note: If you are looking to reap the health benefits of spinach powder, look for a shop that sells organic spinach powder because conventionally-grown spinach is notorious for being high in pesticides, and the drying process used to make powdered foods concentrates the pesticides.


Greens cookbook

Cookbook You May Like

The Book of Greens is an award-winning cookbook dedicated to greens and an invaluable resource for anyone who is tired of using green leafy vegetables in unpredictable ways. Created by one of Portland's most acclaimed chefs, Jenn Louis, this inspiring cookbook contains creative recipes for every meal of the day, from breakfast and mains to snacks and desserts. Whether you want to incorporate some new greens into your diet, or to learn new ways to use old standbys like kale or spinach, this cookbook has you covered. To learn more or to order a copy through Amazon, click here.