You know that greens are good for you. That fact has likely been drilled into your head from an early age.
But what greens should you be going for most often? A plethora of options are available, and the nutritional differences between say, butterhead lettuce and romaine lettuce, are far from common knowledge. No worries—we’re here to help. We’ve ranked nine of the most popular greens by their nutritional value, so you’ll know what sort of foliage you should be feeding on most frequently.
*All nutrition data comes from nutritiondata.self.com. All data is based on the raw, uncooked version of the green
Kale. Most people hadn’t even heard of the stuff 10 years ago, but now it’s hailed as the quintessential superfood. Not only is it frequently used as a base for salads or bowls, but it’s also a frequent ingredient in smoothies and cold-pressed juices. Kale belongs to the “Brassica” family of vegetables, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Kale has built a reputation as a nutrient-packed wonder food, buy do the nutrition facts really back that up? In short—yes.
A hundred grams of kale contains 50 calories, .7 grams of fat, 43 mg of sodium, 447 mg of potassium, 10 grams of carbohydrate, 3.3 grams of protein and 2 grams of dietary fiber. It also serves up an astronomical amount of vitamin K—1,021% the recommended daily value (RDV), to be exact. Vitamin K plays a critical role in bone health and wound healing. It may also provide protection against conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer and osteoporosis. No need to worry about the high dosage, either. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, “there is no known toxicity associated with high doses” of dietary vitamin K.
One-hundred grams of kale also contains a whopping 308% the RDV of vitamin A and 200% of the RDV of vitamin C. Vitamin A helps cells reproduce normally and effectively. Additionally, it aids in good vision and is needed for proper development of an embryo and fetus (making it especially important for women who are pregnant or are expecting to become pregnant). Vitamin C has great benefits for eye health, as it reduces the risk of cataracts, promotes healthy ocular blood vessels and slows the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin C also helps the body synthesize collagen, a protein crucial for building healthy skin and tissue, and it may play a role in preventing vascular disease.
One hundred grams of kale also contains significant amounts (at least 10% of the RDV) of calcium, copper, manganese, and vitamin B-6. Kale is also high in a compound known as sulforaphane, which has been found to have potent cancer-fighting capabilities. When it comes to leafy greens, kale deserves its reputation.
Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. There’s a reason it was Popeye’s favorite food.
One hundred grams of spinach…