Leafy greens are among the healthiest foods on the planet and offer benefits for heart health, brain health and blood sugar control. While there is a great deal of debate over whether spinach or kale is healthier, both are packed with nutrients and plant compounds that benefit your health. However, this does not mean that they are the same.

In this article, we will examine the nutritional differences between spinach and kale and how they compare in their taste and uses in recipes.

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Nutritionally, how does kale vs. spinach?

We often hear kale referred to as a “superfood” because of all of its nutrients, but the truth is that it’s not necessarily any more special or more nutritious than other leafy greens. For example, spinach and kale are powerful leafy greens rich in various nutrients.

You can’t go wrong by including either one or ideally a combination of both in your diet. Eating green vegetables daily is a nutritional goal we can all strive to achieve. Let’s take a closer look at spinach vs. kale nutrition and general daily nutritional recommendations for adults.


“Superfood” is a marketing term used to describe nutrient-dense foods that provide health benefits. There are no standard criteria for considering certain foods “superfoods,” but they are generally rich in micro- and macronutrients derived from natural sources.


Plant foods such as leafy greens are the only source of dietary fiber. Fiber is an important nutrient for feeding your gut microbiome, or the community of good bacteria that live there. It helps support your digestive, heart and immune systems and promotes healthy blood sugar regulation.

The recommended daily amount (RDA) of fiber is 25 grams per day. A cup of raw spinach provides 0.7 grams of dietary fiber, whereas a cup of raw kale contains slightly more at 0.9 grams of fiber.

Studies have found that most Americans do not get enough fiber, with an estimated 95% of adults not consuming the minimum recommended daily amount, about 30 grams. Adding spinach and kale to your diet is a great way to help increase fiber intake.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is an important nutrient for blood clotting or slowing blood flow when you have an injury so the wound can heal. It also plays a role in supporting bone health along with calcium and vitamin D.

Leafy greens such as spinach and kale contain vitamin K1, while certain animal products and fermented foods provide vitamin K2.

The RDA for vitamin K is 120 micrograms (mcg) daily. A cup of raw spinach provides 145 micrograms of vitamin K, and you get 82 micrograms in a cup of raw kale.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and supports the immune system. Although often attributed to citrus fruits such as oranges, vitamin C can also be found in leafy greens.

One cup of raw spinach provides 8.5 of the recommended 80 milligrams (mg) daily of vitamin C, while one cup of raw kale provides 20 milligrams.

Vitamin A

Getting enough vitamin A, specifically 3,000 international units daily, is important for immune function and eye health. Spinach and kale contain compounds called “carotenoids“, which our bodies convert into a usable form of vitamin A.

In one cup of spinach you will find 2,810 international units (IU) of vitamin A, while there are 1,010 international units of vitamin A in one cup of raw kale.


You might think of dairy products when you see the word “calcium,” but plenty of plant foods, including spinach and kale, also provide calcium. Adequate calcium consumption supports healthy bones and teeth, nerve communication and muscle movement.

The recommended daily amount of calcium for adults is 1,300 milligrams (mg). One cup of raw spinach contains 30 milligrams of calcium, and one cup of raw kale has 53 milligrams.

Spinach also contains a plant compound called “oxalate,” which can bind to calcium and reduce absorption. Eating oxalate-rich foods can increase how much oxalate is removed through your urine and promote the formation of calcium-oxalate kidney stones. In general, this is only a potential concern for people with a history of, or at higher risk for, kidney stones.

If you’re concerned about kidney stones, choose kale, a low-oxalate leafy green.


Folate is a B vitamin best known for its importance during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in fetuses. The RDA for folate is 400 micrograms (mcg), and in pregnant and lactating women the recommendation increases to 600 micrograms.

Leafy greens like spinach and kale are among the best places to find folate in your diet. One cup of raw spinach provides 58.2 micrograms of folate, while one cup of raw kale contains 13 micrograms.

What about kale vs. raw spinach vs. cooked form?

If you’ve ever cooked leafy greens, you know how much they shrink from their raw form. A whole box of raw spinach can quickly turn into a small pile of cooked spinach as it shrinks. But how does cooking affect leafy greens nutritionally?

The primary difference is that you can consume more spinach or kale in their cooked versus raw form simply because there is less volume. This also means that you get more nutrients per portion in cooked versus raw leafy greens.

However, some water-soluble vitamins can be lost when spinach or kale is cooked using water-heavy methods, such as boiling, or when it comes into contact with oil, such as sautéing. Research has found that steaming, baking, and microwaving preserve nutrients, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds more than other plant-based cooking methods.

Nutritionally, leafy greens have a lot to offer, whether raw or cooked. Eating raw and cooked spinach and kale in your diet is a great way to experiment with different recipes and determine how you enjoy them the most.

Taste-wise, how does kale vs. spinach?

The list of spinach and kale benefits is long, but leafy greens can be an acquired taste for many people, especially if you didn’t grow up eating them. While all leafy greens are similar in their raw texture and earthy flavor, each type offers a unique flavor.

When it comes to spinach vs. kale, spinach tends to have a softer, more buttery and smooth texture with a mild flavor. Spinach works well raw in salads and sandwiches or as a pizza topping, or cooked and mixed into grain bowls and soups.

Steam it or fry it in a pan with garlic and avocado oil. For a tropical green drink, you can also throw spinach into smoothies along with fruit, like blueberries, green apples and pineapple.

Kale has a coarser texture that many prefer to soften before adding to salads and sandwiches. Do this by massaging chopped raw kale with olive oil and salt with your hands. Kale can have a slightly bitter taste than spinach, but is also very versatile.

You may want to remove the inner stalk from each leaf before chopping kale, as it is difficult to chew. After removing the stem, chop and add to salads, casseroles, smoothies and pasta dishes, or make roasted kale chips in the oven for a healthy snack. You can also saute kale in a pan with a little garlic and olive oil or add it to a breakfast mix.

Spinach and kale both have a mild, earthy, green flavor that works well in a variety of preparations, whether you want to make them the centerpiece of spinach and kale recipes or use them to boost nutrition in a dish. Experiment with both to find out which one you like best and how you prefer to use them in your kitchen.


Spinach and kale are two of the most widely consumed green leafy vegetables that offer numerous health benefits. Both are full of nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and minerals. Yet there are subtle nutritional differences between them.

Kale provides more calcium and vitamin C per portion than spinach, whereas you’ll find more folate, vitamin A and vitamin K in spinach than kale. Per cup, they contain a similar amount of fiber. Both leafy greens are excellent choices to incorporate into your diet, whether you enjoy them raw or cooked, in stews, soups, smoothies, salads or sandwiches.


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