The Healthiest Leafy Green--and How to Eat It


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/6/2013 9:00 AM   :  90 comments   :  59,931 Views

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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  • 90
    The taste of kale in smoothies isn't so bad, but I find that it doesn't blend in my Ninja as well as Spinach - I often am left with little pieces, whereas spinach blends seamlessly.

    I love making homemade kale chips - in my experience, homemade tastes much better than prepackaged chips. Those leave a bitter aftertaste. I have made chips with just olive oil, and I find that to be simple but delicious. - 10/21/2014   11:46:40 AM
  • 89
    I love kale. I've had it in green smoothies, in soup (with ckickpeas) and for breakfast (recipe below).

    My favourite recipe with Kale is 'Fried Egg Kale Toast'. Just google 'Megan's Fried Egg Kale Toast' and you'll find the recipe.

    If you want to lower the carbs just skip the toast. - 10/21/2014   11:30:06 AM
  • 88
    I love kale - but I dunno about it smoothies. I used to do a simple soup: 1 box of chicken stock (low sodium), 1 container of FIRM tofu (cubed), 1 can of garbanzo beans, 1 kale bunch (entire pack), 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1-2 zucchini/squash, and salt and pepper to taste. Let it cook for about 30-45 on low (after you bring to a boil), and enjoy! - 10/21/2014   6:23:41 AM
    I'd rather eat more of another green. Kale is horrible. It's so bitter and tough. The only way I would eat it would be braising it for hours with bacon, like you do to collards. But I'd still rather eat collards. - 9/10/2014   11:23:00 PM
  • JOHNV1956
    just a simple saute with onions, mushrooms, and smoked paprika - 8/28/2014   10:03:02 PM
  • 85
    i cook it with smoked turkey necks or butts and a little salt and pepper. nothing else. DMSGLASS thanks i like your idea - 11/22/2013   9:38:16 PM
  • 84
    I do eat kale every week. However, I do not like the taste, so I put a cup of it in my smoothie 4 or 5 times a week. I cannot taste it. Same thing with brussels sprouts, spinach and any other green I don't like. - 11/22/2013   8:20:16 PM
    please check out the below, - 9/5/2013   9:16:30 AM
    Oh well, at least my Bunny loves it! - 6/9/2013   3:05:48 PM
    Of course it had to be kale. Sorry, but I was thoroughly turned off kale when I was a kid and it is one food I will not eat. I'll stick with the other greens. - 6/7/2013   11:56:06 PM
  • 80
    If you compare nutrition based upon equal calories, suddenly mustard greens and spinach look much more attractive!

    I think most Sparkers tend to choose their food by calories rather than by volume. And I'm sure that most of us prefer getting the most nutrition out of the volume of food we eat.... - 6/7/2013   12:07:51 PM
  • 79
    I use fresh curly kale to make a raw kale salad that everyone in the family loves. The secret is to let it marinade in the dressing for at least an hour before serving (after having cut the kale into very thin strips). It's even better the next day. - 6/7/2013   11:23:31 AM
  • 78
    Our local Whole Foods had a tasting one day that featured Kale. Cooked, fresh, chips... several ways. It will NOT be on my menu - couldn't find any way that anyone in the family liked it. I'll stick with other greens - especially spinach and Swiss chard. - 6/7/2013   9:26:21 AM
    I have never eaten kale and I guess I better try it. Thanks for sharing. - 6/7/2013   8:28:10 AM
  • 76
    Kale chips are a daily request in our house. Our twins are 10 & we have a 13 year old. Each have very different tastes but all agree on the kale chips. - 6/7/2013   2:45:42 AM
    thanks for sharing. - 6/7/2013   1:51:02 AM
    I've tried kale 5 times, it is the most vile vegetable I've ever had, will never buy it again. The kale chips taste the way an ashtray full of cigarette butts smells! When you fix kale steamed or cooked a bit, it feels like you are eating someones moustache. Awful stuff, I think the kale farmers of America are pushing this stuff because, people usually didn't buy it. Try some other green!! I'm sticking with spinach. - 6/6/2013   10:11:35 PM
  • 73
    There are different varieties of kale. I find some can be eaten plain, and others need to be cooked pr processed in some way. - 6/6/2013   8:49:03 PM
  • 72
    I actually love kale--I mix it with spinach for greens in my salads! - 6/6/2013   8:12:07 PM
  • 71
    I put a cup in my smoothies along with a cup of other greens as well :) - 6/6/2013   2:32:05 PM
  • 70
    I just ate grilled kale for dinner last night! Really good :) - 6/6/2013   12:26:03 PM
  • 69
    Baked kale chips with olive or coconut oil drizzled over them with garlic salt my 22 month old cant get enough of them! - 6/6/2013   11:50:48 AM
    I juice almost every morning with 1 cup kale, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup each of frozen organic blueberries and lingonberries, a couple frozen organic strawberries, 1 TBSP chia seeds and 1/2 cup water, in a Nutribullet. I eat a couple hard boiled egg whites for additional protein and I'm good until lunch! - 6/6/2013   11:04:36 AM
  • 67
    I usually add a little kale to my collards, but I think I'll start adding a little collards to my kale. - 6/6/2013   10:30:33 AM
    Kale is my favorite! I enjoy steaming it with garlic and onion. I also like using it in my green smoothies. - 6/6/2013   10:21:19 AM
  • 65
    Discovered kale a few years ago....I love it! Such an easy way to boost your Heath. - 1/5/2013   3:40:41 PM
    We have found that Kale is a great choice. Especially the Kale chips. - 12/1/2012   11:22:46 AM
  • 63
    We eat a lot of kale. I like it sauteed with a bit of olive oil, some chopped apples and chopped onions. We've recently started eating it raw in salads. It's so versatile. - 11/12/2012   4:09:39 PM
  • 62
    Opps duplicate posting - 11/11/2012   6:02:48 PM
  • 61
    I love kale. It is great in stir-frys, soups, and casseroles. It can easily replace spinach in any recipe. I would recommend tearing the leaf away from the extra thick stems as those can be a bit tough. I highly enjoy the Crispy garlic kale, chorizo and bean recipe above. It's very filling and it freezes well. I want kale! - 11/11/2012   6:02:47 PM
    For people who don't cook a lot or eat a lot of greens, I highly recommend buying frozen kale and then steaming it. (If you don't have a steamer you can use a regular pot with the lid ajar, and it doesn't require extra water because as it defrosts it will release some.) I love it plainly steamed, but if you drizzle some olive oil and add garlic powder and onion powder it is excellent! - 11/11/2012   4:47:33 PM
  • 59
    I never had kale chips but do have to watch my fiber intake. I like to steam kale and eat with vinegar and white bread. Whole grain bread doesn't agree with me. I often just dunk the bread in the vinegar and kale juice mix without adding any butter. - 11/8/2012   2:06:22 PM
  • 58
    I love kale, just sauté in olive oil, onions and garlic....yum! - 11/6/2012   10:10:39 PM
  • 57
    I like kale - my favorite way is to get fresh, cold kale - and add pine nuts, some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and dried cranberries for a really crispy and refreshing salad. - 11/6/2012   12:23:40 PM
    We make "stamp pot", a recipe from the Netherlands -- kale leaves cooked with potatoes in a little bit of water, then mashed, topped with smoked sausage. Adding the sausage to the kale and potatoes while they cook gives them great flavor.

    We also put kale in "witches stew" -- basically a beef stew we cook around Halloween, and give the veggies witchy names -- barley is "eye of newt", and kale leaves are bat wings. - 11/6/2012   11:11:09 AM
  • 55
    We have tried kale and didn't enjoy it. However, now I will get some this week and try one of the recipes here. Swiss chard goes down much easier. - 11/6/2012   9:50:50 AM
  • 54
    I absolutely love Kale and my favorite way to fix them is Kale Chips with Parmesan Cheese sprinkled on top. It is so good with just about anything. - 11/6/2012   9:23:02 AM
    On a baking sheet drizzle Kale with some EVOO and your favorite seasoning- Laureys, or garlic blend, (whatever you like) and bake til it is crispy (not long) let cool and store in a Ziploc. Its a great snack instead of fried potato chips. - 11/6/2012   8:42:38 AM
    I juice veggies every moring, of which kale is one. It's delicious. I also sautee it with scrambled eggs and other veggies and it's good in quiches as well. - 11/6/2012   7:56:31 AM
  • 51
    1234MOM, Vitamin A is only toxic in astronomically huge quantities eaten in the form of organ meats. Specifically, Vitamin A found in the livers of polar animals is deadly. I don't know anybody who plans on eating polar bear liver though, do you? Pilots during WW1 ate so many carrots (for their eyesight) that they turned ORANGE, but it didn't poison them.

    Glad to see some delicious new options for kale. I LOVE the stuff, and try to eat a serving a couple of times per week. I really dislike cooked spinach, so any time I see a recipe calling for cooked spinach, I reach for kale instead. It's just so much heartier and versatile! - 11/6/2012   5:43:45 AM
  • 50
    This article should be telling how much a serving is and please tell if it is cooked or raw. Vitamin A can be toxic in large quantity so that 206% of RDA is sounding a bit scary. An overdose of vitamin A can cause birth defects, liver damage, and it can even turn the skin yellow-orange. As I look up info on this a serving of only 3 oz. cooked puts you over the upper tolerable limit. The vitamin K in it can have adverse affects when taken with certain medications also. - 11/5/2012   9:57:18 PM
  • 49
    I've made kale "chips", added it to smoothies, and tried to massage flavor into it. I just can't... blech. - 11/4/2012   10:31:15 PM
  • 48
    I love kale! I put it in my breakfast smoothies, love it steamed with teriyaki garbanzo beans or braised in broth with sautéed onions, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and garbanzo beans. I eat kale at least 3 times per week and I have the best nails, hair and skin I have ever had. I also like the other greens but kale has been my " go to" most of this year. - 11/4/2012   9:30:24 PM
  • 47
    not sure why it posted 3 times. sorry.have a great week! - 11/4/2012   9:26:25 PM
  • 46
    it is strong tasting. I don't like anything that is like that. I will try it in a smoothy. I am all for the wonderful benefits! - 11/4/2012   9:26:23 PM
  • 45
    it is strong tasting and I don't like anything that is like that. I will try in a smoothy. I am all for the wonderful benefits! - 11/4/2012   9:26:23 PM
  • 44
    it is strong tasting. I don't like anything that is like that. I will try it in a smoothy. I am all for the wonderful benefits! - 11/4/2012   9:26:23 PM
  • 43
    I have never had kale, but I know a few people who have made kale chips and said they are delicious. The kale and sweet potato saute sounds pretty good, too. I think I'm going to try some. - 11/4/2012   7:49:27 PM
    I love massaged kale salads, though they are a source of oxalates. I massage handfuls of torn kale with salt, lemon juice and olive oil till the kale softens, then I add whatever else I want in the salad. Toasted pumpkin seeds are terrific!

    If you have problems with oxalate kidney stones, steaming or boiling the kale will significantly reduce the amount of oxalate in the kale. Just make sure you discard the cooking liquid. - 11/4/2012   7:04:05 PM
  • 41
    I make a Kale Salad with sliced apples and toasted pecans that everyone loves. I don't "massage" it. I like the crunchiness of the kale and it stays fresher for a few days when it's not so wilted on day one. I use light italian dressing shaken with a couple of teaspoons of grainy mustard and a squeeze of agave nectar. Delicious!!! - 11/4/2012   6:59:15 PM

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