Mix, Match, and Multiply: Get the Most From Your Leafy Greens!

By December 4, 2017News

While we frequently hear how important it is to “eat your greens”, what we don’t hear is how important it is to eat a wide variety of greens! While greens — lettuces, cruciferous leafy greens, spinach, chard, and more — are indeed nutritional powerhouses, they don’t all supply the same nutritive benefits. While one variety might be high in Vitamin C (broccoli), another might provide a healthy dose of protein (Brussels sprouts). To get the full nutritional and antioxidant benefits of greens, plan to eat a wide variety; It is recommended that everyone eat a minimum of 1/2 cup cooked greens every day (more if you’re eating them raw).

Eat a variety of kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, and more for overall nutrition.

Check out the table below for an overview of the nutritional values for 14 green leafy vegetables. There are some surprises, and some things to keep in mind:

  • Spinach is famous as a hard-hitter when it comes to iron, but it turns out that it’s not the best source among the leafy greens. Both beet greens and Brussels sprouts provide more iron than spinach.
  • If you’re watching your carbs, be aware that broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are much higher in carbohydrates than other greens. But don’t let that stop you from eating them, as each has its own unique nutritional profile! Just be sure to even out those servings with lower-carb greens like lettuce, rapini, and Swiss chard.
  • The nutritional value of leafy greens, and other vegetables, changes when cooked. Raw spinach, for example, has 99 mg of calcium per 100 g of spinach. After you cook it, however, the calcium skyrockets to 136 mg for the same weight of spinach. (Search for the nutritional values of both raw and cooked vegetables here.)
  • But the reverse is true, as well. When vegetables are cooked, water-soluble nutrients like Vitamin C and Vitamin B decline. Freezing can also impact nutrition levels. The truth is, there is no best way to cook (or not) leafy greens or any other vegetable.
  • For the best nutrition, include a variety of leafy greens in your diet, and eat them using a variety of cooking methods.

Nutritional Value per Cup of Leafy Greens (raw, chopped)

Minerals (mg)

Vitamins (mg)

Fiber

Carbs Protein Calcium Potassium Iron C K

A, IU

Arugula

0.2

0.36 0.26 16 37 0.15 1.5 10.9

237

Bok choy

0.7 1.53 1.06 74 176 0.56 31.5 31.9 3128
Beet greens

1.4

1.65 .84 44 290 0.98 11.4 152

2404

Broccoli

2.4

6.04 2.57 43 288 0.66 81.2 92.5

567

Brussels sprouts

3.3 8.95 2.97 37 342 1.23 74.8 155.8

664

Cabbage

2.2

5.16 1.14 36 151 0.42 32.6 67.6

87

Chard (Swiss)

0.6

1.35 0.65 18 136 0.65 10.8 298.8 2202

Collard greens

1.4

1.95 1.09 84 77 0.17 12.7 157.4

1807

Kale

0.6

1.4 0.68 24 79 0.24 19.2 112.8

1598

Leaf lettuce

0.3

0.63 0.37 9.0 52 0.34 1.0 39.3

2098

Rapini (rabe)

1.1

1.14 1.27 43 78 0.86 8.1 89.6

1049

Spinach

0.7

1.09 .86 30 167 0.81 8.4 144.9

2813

Turnip greens

1.8

3.92 0.82 104 163 0.61 33 138.1

6373

Watercress 0.2 0.44 0.78 41 112 0.07 14.6 85

1085

New Mexico-grown cabbage is nutritious, green, and leafy compared to cabbage that’s been shipped for hundreds of miles.

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