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What's the Difference Between Spinach and Kale?
The superpowers of raw spinach and raw kale are mostly measured in antioxidants—specifically, carotenoids and flavonoids, two phytonutrients found in fruit and vegetables. Not only are they responsible for the vibrant colors of the edible plant kingdom, a diet rich in carotenoids and flavonoids has been linked to a whole host of health benefits.
- Spinach: A member of the Amaranthaceae family, spinach counts chard, beets, and quinoa among its not-so-distant relations. Its tender, loose leaves are popular in salads, but its creamy texture and high water content makes it especially useful as a blank flavor canvas, or as a bright addition to purées, sauces, and even things like pasta dough. One of its star carotenoids is called epoxyxanthophylls, an anti-inflammatory that’s been shown to help with prostate cancer prevention, heart disease, and bone health.
- Kale is a member of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, which includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens, among others. Kale chips might be its modern claim to fame, but its hearty texture lends itself well to both protein-packed salads and rich dishes like soups and stews and stir-fries. It’s loaded with vitamins A, C, and a staggering 900 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin K, and it’s most prominent carotenoids are lutein and beta-carotene, which beat back free radicals and oxidative stress, the engine behind cataracts, atherosclerosis, and pulmonary disease.
Is Kale or Spinach Healthier?
The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking to focus on every day. While kale has about 14 percent more protein than spinach, spinach is incrementally higher in fiber. Kale’s got double the calories, but has a far bigger vitamin footprint. The nutritional value of both leafy greens goes a long way towards lowering the risk of many different cancers and boosting your immune system.
Cooking With Kale
When cooking with kale, first remove its woody, fibrous stems from the dark green leaves. You can then slice it into ribbons, tear it into rustic pieces by hand, or roast the leaves whole. Learn more about kale in our complete guide here.