The Healthiest Leafy Green--and How to Eat It

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We all know it's a good idea to eat leafy green veggies. They're chock-full of nutritious vitamins and minerals, and they're low in calories to boot. But if you can only stomach so much green in your life, which leafy green should you choose for the maximum nutritional benefits: Spinach, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, or collard greens?
The Winner: Kale!

Dietitians and other health professionals have been telling us to eat more kale for years—and for good reason! Although the other leafy greens we mentioned still boast impressive nutritional profiles, kale clearly takes the cake. Check out how kale stacks up against the other greens on the list when comparing several key nutrients. (All nutritional information is for one cup of raw greens. The percentages are for the recommended daily value (% DV) of each nutrient.)
Type of Green Calories Vitamin A Vitamin C Vitamin K Calcium Iron Manganese
Collard Greens 11 48% 21% 230% 5% 0% 5%
Kale 33 206% 134% 684% 9% 6% 26%
Mustard Greens 15 118% 65% 384% 6% 5% 13%
Spinach 7 56% 14% 181% 3% 5% 13%
Swiss Chard 7 44% 18% 374% 2% 4% 7%

Kale can take some getting used to at first—it's tough to chew and just tastes, well, green. However, when prepared correctly, you'll fall in love with it! Here are some of our favorite ways to eat this leafy veggie:

Kale Chips: The easiest way to transition into eating more kale! These are a great substitution for potato chips. Try mixing it up by adding your favorite seasonings.

Kale and Sweet Potato Sautee: Kale and sweet potatoes are a delicious and nutritious combination.

Kale and Potato Hash: A hearty, healthy meal for breakfast or dinner!

Crispy Garlic Kale with Chorizo and Beans: An easy, satisfying dish that packs a protein punch.

Chickpea, Kale, and Butternut Squash Curry Soup: A warming fall and winter favorite—you'll love this if you like the flavors of Indian food!

Easy Massaged Kale Salad: Wash and rinse about half a bunch of kale and rip it into a bowl. Add half an avocado, the juice of half a lemon, and salt and pepper to taste (or any other seasonings you'd like). Massage in the avocado and lemon juice until the kale wilts and is fully coated.  

Kale Smoothie: Simply add about half a cup of kale to your favorite smoothie for a boost of vitamins and minerals. You won't even taste it—we promise!

Do you eat kale? What's your favorite way to prepare it?


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JUDY1676 5/1/2021
Thanks Report
MARYJEANSL 4/29/2021
I like to add small pieces of kale to broth-based soups such as vegetable beef, chicken noodle. It wilts like spinach, and you don't really taste it, but you get all the vitamins. Report
CECELW 4/28/2021
i used to grow kale. I don't garden like i used to Report
SPINECCO 4/28/2021
Thanks for the different ways to prepare kale. Report
CECTARR 4/28/2021
Thanks Report
DCHANCE6 4/28/2021
I looove kale! I usually just steam it, or add it to soup. Report
AZMOMXTWO 4/28/2021
thank you Report
LEANJEAN6 4/28/2021
I really like this info-Thank yu! Report
There are a few things I use kale in, but it is not a tasty or digestible green for most people. I am surprised you totally left out beet greens, it rivals kale in many areas, beats it out in many more, and is a tender tasty green that is much favored where I live. At only 26 calories it has;
Vitamin A 220%
Vitamin C 60%
Vitamin E 13%
Vitamin K 871%
Thiamin 11%
Riboflavin. 24%
Niacin 4%
Vitamin B6 10%
Folate 5%
Calcium 16%
Iron 15%
Magnesium. 24%
Phosphorus 6%
Potassium 37%
Sodium 14%
Zinc 5%
Copper 18%
Manganese 37%
Selenium 2%
As you can see it has added benefits of additional vitamins and minerals, plus the fact that is is wide loved as a spring food.

MAREE1953 4/28/2021
O k a y .... I'll give it another try. Report
FERRETLOVER1 4/28/2021
No thank you - not into Kale at all. Report
NEPTUNE1939 4/28/2021
ty Report
LIS193 4/28/2021
I like kale but it’s hard to find in my local market Report
JANIEWWJD 4/28/2021
Re-read I tried Kale, and I kind of like it!!! Report
-POOKIE- 4/28/2021
Kale has a great marketing team. Used to be cattle fodder. Report
RANA!! 3/2/2021
Chop it up into bite sized pieces. Place in bowl, add EVOO, lemon juice, and a little ACV. Massage it and leave it for a few minutes. Presto! It's soft and a little wilted. Perfect to enjoy without all the extra crunchy chewiness. Report
GEORGE815 1/24/2021
Thanks Report
JUDY1676 12/5/2020
Interesting Report
ROBINRS 10/10/2020
Not a fan of Kale but may try the Kale chips. there are other greens I prefer - spinach, broccoli. I know from experience that no matter the nutritional value of a fruit or veggie, that I won't eat it if I don't enjoy it. Report
RAPUNZEL53 10/10/2020
Great Report
Help .. I don't understand how you keep your Vitamin A to the RDA of 100 to 115%, if you eat a lot of greens, as a lot of other things have Vitamin A. I've been told & read it's bad to go over on your Vitamin A as you body stores it. Can anyone help me understand this. Report
CD10676776 10/10/2020
Good need-to-know information, thanks! Report
I love kale, I had some growing in the garden over the summer and just put some down for winter. Report
I love kale, I had some growing in the garden over the summer and just put some down for winter. Report
CECTARR 10/10/2020
There are a lot more more greens than the ones listed and any one of these would beat kale for me. Tried it and don't like it. Report
RCLYKE 10/10/2020
not a fan of kale Report
AZMOMXTWO 10/10/2020
thank you Report
ROBBIEY 10/10/2020
thanks Report
PWILLOW1 10/10/2020
Not a fan of kale but I do eat spinach fresh or cooked. Report
1BLUEMAC 10/10/2020
I love the "collard" green Report
SPARKLINGME176 10/10/2020
I do not like the texture! I buy it in powder form & add to my green drinks. Spinach is my thing! Report
TURQUROISE 10/10/2020
I need to try kale Report
I eat a fair amount of greens. Two or three servings a day when I’m home, one if I’m not.
Kale mixed with spinach and mustard greens is tasty.
But the simplest for getting the nutrition in without having to have it at every meal is microgreens.
These smaller than baby greens, larger than sprouts plantlets are easy to toss in or on anything else. I grow them in my window. I’ll have a grow light for winter. Report
DANDYO44 10/10/2020
I just put it in my smoothie so I won't taste it. Report
WOUBBIE 10/10/2020
I would gladly eat three times as much of the other ones than eat ANY kale. It's like the question about "which is the best exercise" : it's the one you'll actually DO. Report
NASFKAB 10/10/2020
Great Report
HEDSTS58 10/10/2020
Not a big fan of Kale. I will eat mustard greens or collard greens Report
NEPTUNE1939 10/10/2020
TY Report
PIKA1319 10/10/2020
based on the chart in the article, no, kale really isn't the "winner". it's got the most calories per cup as well as heavily overdosing you in certain vitamins. Report
MILPAM3 10/10/2020
Don't mind it at all in a salad. It doesn't require cooking to be good. Report
FERRETLOVER1 10/10/2020
Thanks. Report
GINNABOOTS 10/10/2020
Not a big fan. I will have to stick with the greens I like. Report
MAREE1953 10/10/2020
@ethelmerz - I had to laugh at your comment, using kale to scrub your sink!! I've tried it several ways, most recently the massage method. Eh! Just not a big fan, I guess. And I believe in being skeptical about WHO is funding the studies which promote the "science" behind the conclusion. Report
LIS193 10/10/2020
Thanks Report
-POOKIE- 10/10/2020
Kale had a great marketing campaign.
It's been cattle fodder for years for a reason. I am just waiting for hipsters to start on the joys of mangold wurzles next! Report
JANIEWWJD 10/10/2020
Believe it or not, I've never had kale. Report
ETHELMERZ 10/10/2020
This is an old article! The ranchers of kale hired an Ad Agency to exaggerate the benefits of kale, water cress has more benefits than kale! They cooked the books, because kale was not selling well. Horrid stuff, but good to scrub your kitchen sink with. Report
SHOAPIE 8/26/2020
Not too fond of kale Report
JVANAM 7/1/2020
7/1/2020 TODAY'S TIP

Eat more greens

Spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard or leafy greens. Greens are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals to protect you against disease. Report
ALUKOWSKY 6/1/2020
I have been eating kale for decades, way before it became trendy. I started cooking with it in college not because it was healthy but because it was FREE (and students are usually poor, lol!). My college's food service, where I worked part-time, usually garnished fruit/cheese and hors d'oevre trays with the kale -- which would usually just be discarded once the treats had been consumed. So I scooped it up and used it for many a soup, stew, and salad Report