Science Saturday – Showdown of the Greens
Benefits of leafy greens
Leafy, green vegetables offer a wide variety of health benefits. They are high in vitamins A, C and K, antioxidants, fiber, folate, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium. Leafy green vegetables can help promote good vision, regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, support immune function and may help prevent certain types of cancers. The USDA recommends consuming ½ to 2 cups of leafy green vegetables per week and 2 to 2 ½ cups of a variety of vegetables per day. Leafy green vegetables are high in nutrients and low in calories, providing 5-25 calories per ½ cup.
What’s the difference?
Spinach provides a mild, sweet flavor. It is versatile in meals and can be served fresh or cooked. This vegetable loves to grow in cooler weather, so it can be planted during multiple seasons of the year that offer protection from the heat. Spinach provides vitamin A (16% RDI), vitamin K (121% RDI), manganese and folate (15% RDI) in high amounts and iron (5% RDI), magnesium (6% RDI) and phosphorus in lesser amounts. One cup of spinach provides about 7 calories.
Kale has a peppery, bitter flavor and can be enjoyed fresh or cooked. This vegetable also loves to grow in cooler weather with plenty of sunlight and can be planted during multiple seasons of the year. Kale provides high levels of manganese, vitamins K (68% RDI), A (22% RDI) and C and moderate amounts of calcium, iron (2% RDI), potassium and copper. One cup of kale provides about 7 calories.
Arugula is a spicy, tart vegetable that is good in salads, pasta, sandwiches and sauces. Similar to kale and spinach, arugula loves cooler growing seasons and plenty of sunlight, this vegetable can also be grown during multiple seasons of the year. One cup of arugula provides around 5 calories and is high in vitamins K and A. This vegetable also provides small amounts of vitamin C, folate, calcium and manganese.
Each of these vegetables can be used interchangeably in recipes to provide a slightly different flavor profile and texture. Spinach is soft and smooth while kale provides more of a bite and arugula gives that kick of spice. Try some new recipes using these fun leafy vegetables!