The Health Benefits of Spinach and Kale

Spinach and Kale

In the past few years, scientists have increasingly begun to recognize the importance of dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale - so much that they're now labeled "superfoods." If you've never been big on either vegetable, they can be an acquired taste: they're a little more bitter and chewy than iceberg or romaine lettuce. Many people know spinach as Popeye's miracle food and kale as something that hipsters eat.

But these are two incredible vegetables you can't afford to miss out on. Packed with nutrients and antioxidants, they pack a powerful punch to help out your heart, bones, and eyesight. They've been proven to help prevent certain cancers as well. Here's a rundown of the minerals and nutrients found in these superfoods that can improve your health.

Vitamin A

Crucial for skin and eye health, a cup of spinach provides 56% of your daily Vitamin A intake, while a cup of kale gives you 206%. For smoother, more radiant skin, include at least one cup per day of either vegetable in your diet.

Vitamin C

While most people associate Vitamin C with citrus fruits, kale contains 9% of your daily recommended amount. Spinach only provides 1%, but hey, it's still something. If you're trying to boost your immune system, switch the iceberg lettuce out for kale.

Calcium

It's not just found in dairy products- kale contains 9% of your daily serving, while spinach has 3%. For strong bones, kale wins on this one. Make sure you get plenty of Vitamin D in order to best absorb the calcium from kale.

Folate

Also known as folic acid, it's critically important for pregnant women in particular to avoid birth defects. Spinach contains 15% of your daily intake, while kale contains 5%. Many pregnant women take folic acid pills with their prenatal vitamins, but it's also important to eat spinach as well.

Iron

Popeye was right- spinach really does make you stronger! While kale and spinach only contain about 5% of your daily iron amount, you can increase this total by adding a little lemon juice to your salad. This increases absorption by adding additional Vitamin C. Iron is very important for bloodstream health; low iron can cause anemia, a disease where patients suffer fatigue.

Vitamin B

Kale contains 9% of your daily B6, with spinach at 3%. The B vitamins aid in heart and brain health, as well as adding energy. If you're planning on exercising the next day, eat a hearty kale salad the night before for a great workout.

Vitamin K

This vitamin helps blood clot and aids in bone protection. At 684% of your daily value, kale helps out your bones a little better than spinach (181%), but both are excellent for protecting your skeletal system.

Adding daily servings of kale and spinach to your diet will provide you with increased nutrients and minerals. They're also low-calorie and high-fiber foods that fit well with any diet. Pick up these dark, leafy greens at your local supermarket and start reaping the benefits of better health.

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