What is better, kale or spinach? It’s a common question. People are trying to eat their greens and want the best for their buck. So which is it?

Here is a breakdown of some of the key nutrients in kale and spinach:

Infographic comparing nutritional content of kale vs spinach from CALMERme.com

Comparing kale to spinach

As we can see, they are both powerhouses for carotenoids (precursors to Vitamin A) and vitamin K1. A cup of either veg gives us 100% of our daily requirement.   But beyond those two, it seems spinach gives us better levels of many micronutrients.  In fact, according to Worlds Healthiest Foods, it seems that Popeye knew his greens! Spinach holds the top place for magnesium and iron, second place for Vitamins B2, B6, K, E, and A, and is an “excellent” source of 5 other minerals and vitamins. But we’ve been hearing for ages now how great kale is, so which should we choose?

Superfoods

We live in a world dominated by hierarchy, so it’s easy to see why it gets applied to our food selections.  We can find lots of lists of the “top 50 superfoods” or “superfoods everyone needs.” Whether it is kale, goji berries, coconut oil, acai, or whatever.

It might be tempting to focus on these superfoods, but eating high quantities of one thing isn’t necessarily the best option. Instead, we should be striving for variety. And that means selecting whole foods with a variety in color, flavor, texture – which all leads to variety in nutrients. 

We shouldn’t be too hasty just to dismiss the so called superfoods.  In fact, they do tend to be plant-based and minimally processed.  Having been given the “superfood” title, also means they are more readily available in our supermarkets and restaurants, so there is easier access to them.

But their superfood fame has also resulted in them being made into unhealthy versions like deep fried kale chips! No, a deep fried superfood is no longer a superfood.  Nutrients can be stripped by processing so those things that made it good may no longer be there. 

Variety beats superfoods

Individual foods may have excellent nutritional content, and it’s worth noting.  The chart above shows we should be eating spinach….but we should also be eating kale….and other greens like rainbow chard, collards, lettuces.  Each one has a range of nutrients so by having a variety of foods, we get a variety of nutrients.  

So remember to eat a rainbow every day. And try something new each week. Maybe you’ve never had collards or beet greens or amaranth leaves…..  Variety is the spice of life! Go and enjoy it.

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