The Healthiest Leafy Green--and How to Eat It

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/6/2013 9:00 AM   :  86 comments   :  52,853 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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Comments

  • 86
    just a simple saute with onions, mushrooms, and smoked paprika - 8/28/2014   10:03:02 PM
  • CHERRYZMB60
    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
  • VANANSKY
    83
    please check out the below, goo.gl/DlXByI - 9/5/2013   9:16:30 AM
  • PERSEVERE101
    82
    Oh well, at least my Bunny loves it! - 6/9/2013   3:05:48 PM
  • 81
    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
    HOWEVER!
    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
  • SHARONCAPPS
    77
    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
  • BANNERMAN
    75
    thanks for sharing. - 6/7/2013   1:51:02 AM
  • ETHELMERZ
    74
    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
  • MLAPEDIS
    68
    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
  • SKINMINA
    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
  • EVELYNPARHAM
    66
    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
  • FIRECOM
    64
    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. Mmm...now I want kale! - 11/11/2012   6:02:47 PM
  • LASTNIGHTILIE
    60
    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
  • NANCYKNOTS
    56
    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
  • RENEEHAUPT
    53
    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
  • JANEFW1
    52
    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
  • ASCENDER
    42
    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
  • 40
    I use kale in a blender drink with a very ripe banana, yogurt, soy milk and sometimes a diet powder drink mix. - 11/4/2012   4:48:59 PM
  • 39
    I love kale in soup, or as a veg with stew or mince - has to be something with a good load of tasty gravy.
    I've tried raw and I've tried making crisps. None of us enjoy raw. DH and DS both enjoyed the crisps, I didn't. I found the crisps were a lot of work, whatever the result. And far to much hassle when I didn't enjoy them. I'll keep that as a potential for sometime I need to leave the 2 guys and have food sorted before I go out! (though usually I just tell them some options then head out, leaving them to sort themselves). - 11/4/2012   4:31:45 PM
  • AMADOOFUS1
    38
    Add it chopped to a veggie soup, or soup with veggies. It softens but doesn't get too wilted. I add a bottle of green Salsa Verde from Trader Joe to the soup. This makes all the flavors of the soup extra tasty! - 11/4/2012   11:07:49 AM
  • 37
    Only bought it once, need to try it again! - 11/4/2012   10:15:05 AM

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