Nutrition Faceoff: Kale vs. Spinach

We often talk about including plenty of dark green leafy vegetables in your diet. For this month’s nutrition faceoff, we take a closer look at two popular dark leafy  greens – kale and spinach – to see whether there is a clear winner.

Nutrition Faceoff: Kale vs. Spinach

KaleSpinach
Serving size100 g (3.5 oz) raw100 g (3.5 oz) raw
Calories49 kcal23 kcal
Carbohydrates8.8 g3.6 g
Fat0.9 g0.4 g
Protein4.3 g2.9 g
Fiber3.1 g2.2 g
Calcium150 mg99 mg
Iron1.5 g2.7 g
Magnesium47 mg79 mg
Potassium491 mg558 mg
Folate31 mcg 194 mcg
Vitamin A500 mcg (9990 IU)469 mcg (9377 IU)
Vitamin C120 mg28.1 mg
Vitamin K704.8 mcg482.9 mcg
Lutein + zeaxanthin8198 mcg12198 mcg
Beta-carotene5927 mcg5626 mcg

Nutrition Faceoff: Kale vs. Spinach – Dietitian’s Take

While these two vegetables are both great choices, here are some highlights:

  • Kale has more calories per 100 g serving than spinach. It should be noted that both vegetables are still very low-cal choices.
  • Kale has higher levels of fiber, calcium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K than spinach. However, spinach has higher levels of iron, magnesium, potassium, and folate. Both vegetables contain comparable amounts of Vitamin A.
  • In addition to antioxidant vitamins (A and C), both vegetables are also rich sources of antioxidant phytonutrients such as lutein and beta-carotene. Spinach is higher in lutein and zeaxanthin, while kale is higher in beta-carotene.

Our Pick: It’s A Tie!

With so many nutrients packed into so few calories, you cannot go wrong choosing either one of these green leafy vegetables and including them regularly in your diet. Keep in mind that some water-soluble nutrients are lost to cooking liquid, and some phytonutrients are affected by heat. If you choose to cook your leafy greens, do so with minimal liquid (such as steaming or quick sauteing instead of boiling) and keep cooking time short.

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