Recently I was asked by a friend to review an article titled, “10 Super Foods Healthier than Kale” www.eatthis.com/10-superfoods-healthier-than-kale. She wanted to know if in fact it was true that we should no longer bow down to kale as a top super food.
I read the article, admittedly with skepticism, thinking how is it that the rest of the health & nutrition community can be wrong? There are recipe books and entire books written on the health benefits of kale!
For the most part, the article has good information about some of the health benefits of the various green vegetables on their top 10 list. However, their conclusions are not evidenced by any solid nutrition data. Not only that, they don’t provide any relevant links for the reader to be able to read a little more about where the information came from and how they drew those conclusions. For example, they rank watercress and Chinese cabbage as number 1 and 2 based on the high beta- carotene and vitamin K in watercress, and the calcium and iron content in Chinese cabbage. But when you actually look at the numbers; parsley, chard and kale are much higher in vitamin K than watercress. The same goes for calcium and iron – kale, parsley, beet greens, spinach all have significantly higher amounts of calcium and even more so of iron than Chinese cabbage. In fact, neither of these two vegetables, particularly Chinese cabbage, come anywhere close to the nutritional value of kale!
So I took it upon myself to do the research and am happy to report that kale is still Number 1! See the table below. The source of the data is the USDA Nutrient Data Base. www.nutrition-and-you.com is an excellent website for anyone interested in an in-depth analysis of the nutrients in any fruit or vegetable.
Here is my analysis of the numbers. I find it very useful to put the numbers into context. I hope you will too.
Dietary fibre – Kale, beet greens and brussel sprouts have more than all of the others.
Protein – Kale, ounce for ounce has more than most other vegetables!
Vitamin A – Kale and spinach are significantly higher followed by parsley, beet greens and chard (in that order)
Vitamin C – Parsley and kale are the highest. Except for brussel sprouts lagging behind in 3rd place, the rest are not anywhere close!
Vitamin K – Parsley is the clear winner followed by chard and kale at a close 3rd. These 3 are way ahead of all the others although spinach has a respectable amount.
Calcium – Kale and parsley are the clear winners. Watercress and beet greens are tied for 3rd place.
Folates – Spinach blows everyone out of the water, except for parsley and kale at 2nd and 3rd place.
Iron – Parsley beats the rest of them by a mile! Even spinach has only half the iron compared to parsley!! I think Popeye needs to make a switch to parsley! Chard, kale and brussel sprouts have reasonable amounts. But the others can’t compete.
Potassium – Beet greens have the highest, followed by spinach, parsley and kale more or less in 2nd place.
Magnesium – Spinach and chard come 1st; beet greens 2nd; parsley and kale in 3rd place.
Manganese – Spinach is the clear winner with kale coming a close 2nd. All others are left far behind.
Phosphorus – Kale wins the gold again! Brussel sprouts a respectable 2nd.
Zinc – Parsley gets the gold by far. Radicchio, kale and spinach are in 2nd place.