Nutrition Showdown: Should You Eat Kale or Spinach?

Kale. So hot, right? Wait . . . is kale still cool? Is it still the food that everyone’s obsessed with? It kind of seems like it. But is it warranted?

In some ways, absolutely. It’s nutritionally dense, and when prepared correctly (note to salad shops: MASSAGE your damn kale!), it can be delicious. But sometimes it’s just a mouthful and, honestly, pretty hard on your jaw. Have you ever eaten a kale salad and felt like you were chewing for 87 years? Us too.

Let’s look at a green that is much easier on the jaw muscles and often a bit kinder on the palate: spinach. Just as nutritious, just as juice-able, just as versatile. Is a kale salad inherently healthier than a spinach salad? What about a kale smoothie versus a spinach smoothie? Short answer: no. Long answer: “healthier” is relative.

They’re nutritional equals, roughly speaking. Where one lacks, the other makes up, and vice versa, but the differences are somewhat negligible, especially in smaller servings and quantities.

While spinach has less than half the calories of kale, they’re identically equal in protein, fiber, carbs, and fat content, as well as vitamin B6. They’ve got nearly the exact same amount of calcium, manganese, iron, and potassium.

Here’s where they differ: spinach has more folate and magnesium, and kale has more vitamin A, C, and K (but both spinach and kale give you more than 100 percent of your vitamin K).

So, generally speaking, unless you’re really concerned with getting extra vitamin K, or really need more vitamin C and can’t see another way to get it (word to the wise: there are many other sources), then it’s OK to pass on kale. Toss some spinach in your smoothie, and skip the bunch of kale at Whole Foods that we know you’re begrudgingly buying based on hype anyway.

And remember: you don’t need kale to be healthy. You’re an independent woman who don’t need no kale.