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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KHALIA2 5/30/2019
Thank you for this good to know info! Report
GEORGE815 5/28/2019
More preparation with kale over spinach for sure. Report
DRAGONFLY631 4/12/2019
Thanks for the recipes. I’m trying to add more kale and other greens to my diet. Report
HEREKITTYKAT97 3/25/2019
My husband and I are going to have to start eating more kale! Report
SXB990 3/8/2019
Great article Report
I will be eating more kale Report
NELLJONES 1/8/2019
I don't care how healthy kale is, it's awful, I won't eat it. Report
REJ7777 1/4/2019
I love to put kale into my savoury morning oatmeal. I find that savoury oatmeal satisfies me longer than sweet oatmeal. I had never thought of making savoury oatmeal before seeing Jane Esselstyn's YouTube video in which she made sweet oatmeal and her mother Ann made savoury oatmeal. I've been making it ever since. Report
JHERMANKLM 10/15/2018
I do a smoothie in the morning that is a kale and banana smoothie. It cuts the bitterness of the kale and tastes super yummy Report
We grew our own kale last year and I couldn't believe how much better it was than what I have purchased from the grocery store. Wish I had gotten it done this year, but I didn't. Report
Every morning I take a cup of Kale and half of a banana and blend it just to get it out of the way 😁 This has made it easier for me to get my Kale intake lol Report
I don't care what you do to it, I detest kale. I try it periodically to see if my taste has changed and it hasn't over 2 decades. But I will keep trying. Report
I love kale. Thanks for the info and the recipes. Report
I have tried kale three times now and I just can't stand it. I like other leafy greens, though. Report
I have tried and I just can't handle this vegetable. I do well with dark greens, just not this one. Report
Great article. Great to see the health benefits of greens. Report
Good to know! Report
Good info Report
Thanks for sharing Report
I’m a little confused about the vitamin A. Whenever I have kale and check the nutritional report at the end of the day it says I’ve gone way over my vitamin a for the day, but then goes on to say that most vitamin A from plants is not absorbed so don’t worry about it. So am I getting enough vitamin a? Too much? Not enough? Who knows Report
I am simply not a fan of kale! Report
I love Kale! I've been eating kale for a long time! Linda! Report
I love kale! Report
You could mix it with spinach for a healthy salad, in most supermarkets you can buy a prepacked salad mix with kale, no dressing included, which is good. Report
I like kale. It's easy to grow in the garden too. Report
I love sauteing kale and adding eggs to it to make a veggie/egg scramble! Report
Kale is great to eat and love eating it. Report
Of course if you compare them calorie for calorie, instead of cup for cup, spinach is higher than kale in all nutrients except for vitamin C. Mustard greens would be higher in every category, and the others come pretty close to kale in most categories - lower in some and higher in others. Report
If you have a thyroid condition, watch your kale and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower). Don't over do. Website from University of Maryland Medical Center has info. Report
Baby kale is more tender, for those who find "adult" kale too tough... Report
..."Brillo" - heh-heh! Seriously though. It's true that you probably won't notice it in a smoothie and I love homemade kale chips (where you can control the fat, salt and seasonings). Report
Since you are so against Kale, please read this
. Its in the calorie density. Report
This article is OUTDATED, WATER CRESS has more nutrition than kale!! Kale is good for cleaning your kitchen sink if you don't have Brillo soap pads handy. Report
I don't like leafy greens, but luckily there are lots of other delicious vegetables around. My favorite is broccoli, microwaved for 3 minutes - emerald green, hot, filling and delicious. Report
Not sure who introduced me to Kale, but I have fallen in love with it. I prefer it fresh over frozen and I also enjoy adding to any salad. Report
Just remember, that older folks don't process Vitamin A as well; leading to toxic levels potentially. In my neck of the woods it is more pricey than collards or spinach so, we don't eat kale much in our household. Report
I don't mind it (even if its not dissimilar eating sandpaper!) especially recognising how good it is for me. Nobody else likes it sadly I had a whole bunch last year and didn't get to it in time to enjoy it. I like it steamed with butter salt and pepper and lemon juice. Report
I didn't really like kale at first until I found this recipe. I decided to buy a couple of plants to put in the garden. My husband grows a big garden every year. He planted the kale and wanted to know more about it. I said just go pick the leaves and eat them. My husband that doesn't eat most fruits and veggies love kale. That's hard for me to believe. Glad to get some recipes to make for him! Report
Rotating between different green leafy veggies is a better idea. Kale is great stuff (I can only handle it in a green smoothie), but that's a boatload of Vitamin K. Not necessarily something you're going to want 3 cups of daily. :-)
Water cress is better than Kale, this is old info! Kale farmers hired an ad agency to push their product because they knew too many people used it only to scrub their sinks out...eating kale is like trying to down an SOS scrub pad....... Report
I chop kale and steam it till soft then add it to a pot of white beans with homemade tomato, onion and garlic sauce. Delish - for me anyway. I also add any other veg I have going spare. Report
Kale tastes like sour, green cardboard. No thanks. Report
Fresh Express had a Kale salad kit. It was amazing! Report
Sorry! I love spinach, green cabbage, pak choi, but I hate kale!! Report
I buy frozen kale which is chopped up and I put it in salads, soups, and rice. I think the recipes you have with potatoes sound pretty good and I will try them. Report
I love spinach, and I love that it is easy to chew raw. I don't need to add something that makes my teeth hurt. Report
I've made kale chips before & I thought they were really delicious. The only drawback I found was It takes alot of kale though to make a batch of chips, but they truly are a fantastic substitute for potato chips. Report