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Superfood Showdown: Kale vs Spinach

October 22, 2013

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When it comes to superfoods, spinach and kale are among the top contenders. Both help strengthen the immune system and are packed with powerful antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. But when stacked up against each other, which veggie is the queen of the greens?

Let’s compare the nutrients of spinach and kale to find out which leafy green comes out on top:

Fiber:  Both kale and spinach are rich in fiber and contain 1 gram per serving when consumed raw. However, when cooked, spinach wilts more, delivering more fiber per eaten measure. Adding fiber to your diet improves digestive health and helps control your hunger.

Winner: Spinach (when cooked)

Calcium: Kale is the clear winner in this category.  One cup of kale contains 9 percent of your daily calcium needs, while one cup on spinach contains 3 percent.

Winner: Kale

Iron: Although these two greens are very close in iron content, spinach does have a slight edge over kale. One cup of spinach contains 4 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI), while kale contains 3 percent. Iron is the key mineral for blood health, and helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.

Winner: Spinach (by a hair)

Folate:  One serving size of spinach contains 49 percent daily values compared to kale, which contains only 8 percent. Folate is particularly important for pregnant women and women in their child-bearing years as it helps reduce the incidence of brain and spine malformations.

Winner: Spinach

Vitamin K: Kale is one of the highest sources of this essential nutrient containing 684 percent RDI. Vitamin K helps to regulate blood clotting and strengthen bones by assisting the transport of calcium throughout the body. Spinach is also a good source and contains 181 percent RDI.

Winner: Kale

Vitamin A: Both are excellent sources of vitamin A. Spinach comes in at 56 percent recommended daily amount, but kale is an incredibly rich source of this vitamin providing 206 percent of the recommended daily value.

Winner: Kale

And the overall winner is…

I think it’s fair to say that there is no clear winner in this showdown. Both of these leafy greens pack a pretty powerful nutritional punch. While kale contains higher sources of calcium and vitamins, spinach wins when it comes to iron and folate. The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong with either of these two super greens. In fact, it’s best to mix up your greens daily for optimal nutrition.

The good news is that many recipes that contain either spinach or kale can be swapped out for one or the other. Try this Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale (or Spinach!) Soup.

Which leafy green do you prefer?