When it comes to eating leafy greens, the question I am often asked is, “Which one is the BEST?”. We are always looking to get the most bang for our buck, especially when it comes to what we eat. Most of the time we’d rather get one “super-food” than a whole bunch of produce to get a wide array of nutrients.
Truthfully, there are no “super foods” and there’s not really a BEST! Although some greens are more nutrient-dense than others, there is not one specific green that beats out all the rest. Because of this, I recommend rotating different greens throughout your diet. To help navigate the leafy green world, here are the seven most common greens we tend to eat and all the goodness they offer.
- Kale has developed a reputation for being the healthiest plant we can eat, and while it is highly nutritious and versatile, it has lower calcium levels than spinach, collard greens, and arugula. Since it is a tough green that can be difficult to chew, and therefore fully digest and absorb, try either lightly steaming it or massaging raw kale with olive oil before eating.
- Popeye knew that spinach was a leafy green powerhouse, but he may not have known that it beats out kale in its levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A & K, and folate. Plus, its mild flavor makes it a great addition to any meal, including smoothies!
- Swiss chard can add some great color to your plate with its rainbow of stems; plus it comes close to spinach in its nutrient offerings. It is higher in sodium than other greens, so if you are trying to limit your sodium intake, you may want to add a bit less salt to your Swiss chard side dish.
- Romaine is perfect for salads because of its mild flavor and fresh crunch. While it’s not the most nutrient-rich green, although it is high in folate and Vitamin A, it can easily be mixed with other greens for a well-balanced and multi-textured salad.
- Collard greens are a staple in the southern US but deserve attention everywhere for their health benefits; they have twice the amount of calcium as spinach and are also high in potassium and magnesium.
- Arugula is a great way to add a little spice to your salads, as well as some good antioxidants and fiber. Its overall general nutritional value is lower than some other greens, but it combines beautifully with nutrient-dense spinach.
- Iceberg lettuce, while both crunchy and hydrating, is also high in potassium.
As you can see, not one of these greens contains equal amounts of all the nutrients you need for a balanced diet, so mix them up in order to get the most out of them. Enjoy your greens!
Written by Ashleigh Gurtler; Gurtler Wellness