Posted on Nov 26, 2020, 7 p.m.
In the battle of the dark leafy greens, the faceoff seems to be between kale and spinach. While most health advocates can’t seem to get enough of kale how does it stack up to spinach?
Both of these are cruciferous vegetables, and they are both loaded with nutrient health benefits because they are leafy greens. Is one better than the other? The honest truth is that they are both great heart-healthy choices. It is said that leafy greens are so good for you that you really can’t eat too many which is why they are considered to be heart-healthy superfoods by many.
Spinach for instance is great for your heart while helping to boost eye health, reducing blood pressure, helping to prevent cancer, and provides a good portion more fiber, protein and vitamin A, calcium and iron than kale does.
Kale provides more vitamin C and K than spinach does while also being lower in calories and higher in heart-healthy flavonoids that are loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Those are just the shortlists, and just from those, you can already see that you really can’t go wrong with either option. As an added plus both leafy greens contain omega-3 fatty acids that will help to fight inflammation which is at the root of many health issues such as heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Taste-wise kale has a pungent, slightly bitter and peppery taste that stands its ground when it is steamed, sauteed or baked into chips. If you find the taste too strong look for blends of kale with other greens or baby kale which is milder. Also, remove the tough middle part or you will be left with a really bitter taste in your mouth. When it comes to kale the firmer the better, look for kale with dark green leaves that are free from brown and wilt.
Raw spinach has a mild and slightly sweet taste that is refreshing in salads. When cooked it becomes more acidic and robust, it may be best to choose baby spinach when cooking for a milder taste. Spinach does well in salads, eggs, smoothies, dips, pasta, dips, pesto, soups, in a wrap, burgers and stir-fries. This green leafy veggie is not as firm or hard as kale and tends to be softer and easier to chew. Raw is lighter to eat, cooking makes it compact and require slightly more chewing. Just as kale, the firmer the better when shopping and look for leaves free of brown and wilt.
“All leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, so don’t limit yourself to spinach and kale. Think about adding collard greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard and turnip greens to salads and soups, or prepare them as a tasty side,” says preventive cardiology dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD.
One cup (21 grams) of raw kale contains 7 calories, 1 gram of carbs, 0.9 grams of fiber, 0.6 grams of protein, 68% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K, 22% of the RDI for vitamin C, 6% of the RDI for vitamin A and riboflavin, 4% of the RDI for calcium, 3% of the RDI for folate, and 2% of the RDI for magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin B6, thiamine and niacin.
One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach contains 7 calories, 1 gram of carbs, 0.7 grams of fiber, 0.9 grams of protein, 121% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K, 9% of the RDI for vitamin C, 16% of the RDI of vitamin A, 4% of the RDI for riboflavin, 2% of the RDI for calcium, 15% of the RDI of folate, 6% of the RDI for magnesium, 5% RDI of iron, 4% RDI for potassium, 3% of the RDI for vitamin B6, 2% of the RDI for thiamin, and 1% of the RDI for niacin.
Both are rich sources of antioxidant compounds that help to prevent oxidative damage to our cells and help to protect against chronic disease. Both have been shown to positively impact heart health by improving several risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol and blood pressure. Both contain cancer-fighting compounds which have been shown to decrease the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Additionally, as both are low in calories but incredibly high in nutrients simply adding these dark green leafy cruciferous vegetables to your well-rounded healthy diet can be an effective way to boost your weight loss or maintenance efforts. Each one of these brings their own thing to the table, but they are both good choices that can help to add a bit of variety and flavor to just about any meal.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement