Kale vs Spinach – What’s the Difference?

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kale vs spinach

The next time you’re in the produce aisle, you might find yourself craving a bold, leafy vegetable for dinner. If your choices are between kale and spinach, we’ll let you know their similarities and differences so you know which one to pick.

Kale vs spinach? Both are different types of vegetables but they are remarkably similar. They are both leafy greens, although they come from different plants. Spinach leaves come from a flowering plant while kale comes from the cabbage family. Both are incredibly rich in vitamin A and vitamin C and have numerous other vitamins and minerals. When consumed on a regular basis, they help enhance your heart health and improve your immune system.

What is Kale?

what is kale

Kale belongs to a family of cabbage and is sometimes referred to as leaf cabbage. It is green or purple in color and originated in the Middle East and Asia.

While kale has always been edible, it really grew in popularity in the 1990s because of its rich nutritional benefits. Kale is primarily made up of water with the rest of the plant falling into protein and carbohydrate categories.

Despite its bitter taste, you can eat raw kale, although it’s best cut into smaller pieces. Kale is often cooked and flavored to make it more palatable.

What is Spinach?

what is spinach

Spinach is a green, leafy plant that also flowers. It is native to central and western Asia but is now grown all over North America and Europe.

The leaves of spinach are edible and are also rich in nutrients. Raw spinach is most made of water with a small percentage of carbohydrates and protein. It does not contain any fat.

You can eat both raw and cooked spinach.

Difference Between Kale vs Spinach

difference between kale vs spinach

Taste

While some people can’t get enough kale, others find it to be quite bitter. Raw spinach can also have a bit of a bitter taste, although definitely to a lesser extent.

If you’re new to either kale or spinach, try eating them cooked. You can steam or fry both greens and add some spices and oil to soften their tastes.

Texture

When in their raw form, both kale and spinach are crunchy, although kale is definitely the crunchier of the two.

Cooked down, kale loses some of its rough texture but still retains a bit of crunch. As for spinach, it becomes very soft and almost soggy when cooked.

Many people will remark at how little of the spinach remains after it has been cooked because it loses so much of its water content in the cooking process.

Versatility and Uses

Spinach and kale can both be served in salads. Spinach salads with vegetables and meat are popular. Kale is also used in salads, although it is usually combined with other leafy greens.

Kale is a very popular ingredient in smoothies although spinach can be used for this purpose, as well as in juices.

For cooking purposes, spinach is popular in stir-fries. Kale is often served as a side vegetable dish, sauteed with some oil or butter. Kale chips are also popular snack foods.

Cooking spinach is the easier of the two. Because its leaves are thinner, it only takes a minute or two to cook the vegetable.

Kale takes longer to break down because it is thicker in texture.

For backyard garden purposes, both spinach and kale are easy to grow. Spinach is usually ready to be picked between April and June while kale is ready May to August. You can plant both in your garden so that you have fresh greens available year-round.

Both are versatile vegetables and most registered dietitians encourage experimenting with new recipes.

Nutrients

Among fruits and vegetables, spinach and kale are extremely healthy. They are both packed with nutrients and should be a part of a healthy diet.

Of all the vitamins, both spinach and kale are rich in vitamin K. In fact, one cup of kale has 68% of your recommended daily intake while spinach has a whopping 121% of your recommended daily intake.

As for vitamin C, they are both good sources. One cup of kale has 22% of your recommended daily intake and one cup of spinach has 9% of your daily intake.

Furthermore, one cup of kale has 6% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A and spinach has 16% in one cup.

Both spinach and kale are good sources of calcium. Spinach is an excellent source of folate and magnesium.

Benefits

In addition to their impressive list of vitamins and minerals, kale and spinach are rich in health benefits.

Both are rich in antioxidants. These prevent damage from occurring to your cells and help ward against diseases.

Both kale and spinach are also effective at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

One really nice benefit of both vegetables is that they help with weight loss issues. They are nutritious and low in calories and therefore perfect for those wanting to consume a healthier diet.  

Can I substitute spinach for kale?

In a pinch, you could substitute spinach for kale. While spinach does have a distinct flavor, it is a leafy green like kale, so it will work.

It’s better if you are substituting cooked spinach for cooked kale as the raw tastes are so different.

What is Healthier: Kale or Spinach?

Overall, spinach has more vitamins and minerals but they are both incredibly good for you.

Kale is richer in vitamin C while spinach is richer in vitamin K. However, they both play a part in bone health and have anti-inflammatory properties.

If you really had to decide, spinach may be the slightly healthier choice. At the end of the day, no matter what you choose from the produce section, both kale and spinach are good for you.

Conclusion

Kale and spinach are two leafy greens that are incredibly good for you. They are rich in nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, and vitamin A.

As part of a healthy, balanced diet, kale and spinach can help with cancer prevention and lessen your chance of developing heart disease.

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