Nutrition Faceoff: Kale vs. Spinach

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

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

Kale Spinach
Serving size 100 g (3.5 oz) raw 100 g (3.5 oz) raw
Calories 49 kcal 23 kcal
Carbohydrates 8.8 g 3.6 g
Fat 0.9 g 0.4 g
Protein 4.3 g 2.9 g
Fiber 3.1 g 2.2 g
Calcium 150 mg 99 mg
Iron 1.5 g 2.7 g
Magnesium 47 mg 79 mg
Potassium 491 mg 558 mg
Folate 31 mcg  194 mcg
Vitamin A 500 mcg (9990 IU) 469 mcg (9377 IU)
Vitamin C 120 mg 28.1 mg
Vitamin K 704.8 mcg 482.9 mcg
Lutein + zeaxanthin 8198 mcg 12198 mcg
Beta-carotene 5927 mcg 5626 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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