If you are wondering which of the leafy greens you should add to your salad this week, this article is for you. So, what are the health benefits of arugula vs kale?
What is arugula?
Arugula, also known as rocket, roquette or rugula, is an herb in the mustard family. It has a pungent and peppery flavor with delicate leaves (unlike kale). It can be categorized under “leafy green vegetables”.
Arugula is native to the Mediterranean and has been used commonly as a salad vegetable in southern Europe. Now, it is available in many parts of the world and is a commonly used vegetable in salad.
Arugula is mostly commonly used in salads like pear arugula salad and beet arugula salad. It can also be used in cooked dishes like quiches, omelets, stir fries or pastas.
You can also use it as a topping for sandwiches, which adds a nice bitterness and texture. Finally, you can simply enjoy arugula on its own with a drizzle of lemon juice.
Where to buy
You should be able to find arugula at most grocery stores in the United States. If you are unsuccessful, you can always try your local health foods store or order some online.
What is kale?
Kale is another leafy green vegetable that is in the mustard family. It has a bitter taste when consumed raw and a savory taste when cooked. It is considered a cruciferous vegetable, same as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
Similar to arugula, kale also originates from the Mediterranean, specifically the eastern parts and modern day Turkey. Since then, it’s become very popular around the world and is used commonly in a variety of dishes.
Kale is used in a variety of recipes including kale chips, kale and white bean soup and kale salad. To keep it simple, you can always massage your kale in olive oil and consume it with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Where to buy
You should be able to find kale at your local grocery store. It’s gained popularity over the last few decades so it shouldn’t be difficult to find. If you are out of luck, you can always try your local health foods store or farmer’s market.
Nutrition Breakdown: Arugula
First, let’s break down the nutrient content of arugula including calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat and micronutrients.
All nutrition information was collected from cronometer.com using the entry “Arugula, Raw” from the NCC database.
One cup of arugula, raw, contains about 5 calories in total. Two cups of raw arugula, which is equal to one serving of cooked vegetables, contains about 10 calories in total.
Two cups of raw arugula contains 1.5 grams of carbohydrates and 0.6 grams of dietary fiber. This is a very small amount of carbohydrates.
Two cups of raw arugula contains 1 gram of protein. This is a very small amount of protein so make sure you are consuming other protein rich foods throughout the day.
Two cups of raw arugula contains 0.3 grams of fat which includes 0.1 grams of unsaturated fatty acids. This is a very small amount of fat, so be sure to serve with a fat source.
Two cups of arugula is a good source of vitamins. This amount is a good source of folate and vitamin K. It also contains some vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Nutrition Breakdown: Kale
Kale’s nutrition profile is similar to arugula. They both contain various essential nutrients and are very low calorie, even for vegetables.
All nutrition information was collected from cronometer.com using the entry “Kale, Raw” from the NCC database.
Two cups of raw kale contains about 15 calories. While it is slightly higher in calories than arugula, it’s overall very low in calories.
Two cups of raw kale contains about 1.9 grams of carbohydrates and 1.7 grams of fiber. Comparatively, kale contains over double the amount of fiber compared to arugula.
Two cups of raw kale contains about 1.2 grams of protein. This is a very small amount of protein so be sure you are consuming enough protein throughout the day.
Two cups of raw kale contains about 0.6 grams of fat with 0.3 grams coming from unsaturated fatty acids. Due to the low fat content, make sure to pair kale with a good source of fat.
Two cups of raw kale is a good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium and manganese. It also contains some potassium.
Health benefits of kale and arugula
Since kale and arugula are both nutrient dense and low calorie leafy green vegetables, they have similar health benefits. The most notable benefits are listed down below.
They can help maintain a healthy immune system
There are several nutrients that play an important role in maintaining a healthy and functioning immune system. Deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to immune system dysfunction.
These nutrients include folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, copper, magnesium and selenium.
While kale and arugula aren’t great sources of all these nutrients, arugula is a good source of folate and kale is a good source of vitamin A. Both contain some magnesium.
They can help improve bone health
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient when it comes to maintaining healthy and strong bones. Kale and arugula are both wonderful sources of this nutrient. They also both contain some calcium.
The vitamin K dependent protein, osteocalcin, is present in bones and possibly plays a role in bone turnover and mineralization.
They can help lower high blood pressure
Nutrients like potassium, magnesium and vitamin D all play a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Both kale and arugula contain some potassium and magnesium.
Along with this, modest weight loss can help lower blood pressure and considering how both arugula and kale are low in calories, high in water content and relatively high in fiber, they may aid in weight loss.
Overall, kale and arugula may be beneficial if you have high blood pressure and/or struggle with poor heart health.
They can lower risk of birth defects
Kale and arugula both contain the nutrient folate, which is an essential nutrient when it comes to preventing neural tube defects in newborn babies.
Folate is one nutrient that an expecting parent must assure they are getting enough of. If you are pregnant, make sure you are consuming at least 400 micrograms a day of folate.
They can help manage blood sugar levels
Kale and arugula are low in calories, low in carbohydrates and relatively high in fiber, meaning they contain a good amount of fiber per calorie.
While maintaining blood sugar levels as a diabetic or someone with insulin resistance involves a carefully planned diet, kale and arugula can be helpful.
They are low in carbohydrates, meaning they won’t cause an insulin spike. Plus, they are high in water and fiber so they will keep you full and potentially aid in weight loss. This could potentially increase insulin sensitivity.
Potential downsides of kale and arugula
Kale and arugula are both good sources of vitamin K. While this isn’t an issue for the average person, it could be an issue if you are on blood thinners.
If you are an anticoagulant such as warfarin, phenprocoumon, acenocoumarol or tioclomarol, you will need to maintain a consistent intake of vitamin K.
Sudden changes in the amount of vitamin K you consume can either increase or decrease the efficacy of your anticoagulant. Make sure to speak to your doctor or dietitian about this interaction.
Alternatives to kale and arugula
If you don’t enjoy the taste of kale or arugula there are plenty of alternatives that are similar nutritionally and in taste. Some of these alternatives include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Romaine lettuce
- Iceberg lettuce
- Mustard greens
- Bok choy
- Italian cress
All of these foods are leafy green vegetables and most are considered cruciferous vegetables, which are the same category as kale.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is arugula as healthy as spinach and kale?
It depends on your definition of healthy. All three foods, arugula, spinach and kale are nutrient dense and low in calories. It’s difficult to say which option is “healthiest” since they contain similar nutrients in differing amounts.
It may be a better idea to compare based on what nutrient in particular you are trying to consume more or less of.
For example, if you’re looking for the lowest calorie option, arugula is the best. But if you want a vegetable highest in folate, spinach is going to be your best option.
Which leafy green is the healthiest?
Again, it’s impossible to say which leafy green is the “healthiest” option. All green leafy vegetables are rich in nutrients and relatively low in calories and high in fiber.
As mentioned above, it may be best to instead compare the vegetables based on what nutrient you are trying to get more or less of.
Since most leafy greens have fairly similar nutritional profiles, I would suggest choosing which leafy greens you enjoy most and consuming those. Alternatively, you can try a new leafy green each week. Variety is also important.
Does arugula cleanse the liver?
There is no vegetable or even food in general that “cleanses” your liver. Unless you have a specific medical issue that affects your liver function, your liver is able to cleanse itself.
If you are a healthy individual, there is no need to do any liver or kidney “cleanses”. Your body will handle all of that on your own.
While arugula is a nutrient dense food that can help contribute to a healthy, balanced diet, it does not have any special evidence-based medicinal qualities.
Can kale and arugula help you lose weight?
Both kale and arugula can potentially aid in weight loss. This is because both of these leafy green vegetables are low in calories, high in water content and relatively high in fiber.
All this means consuming kale and arugula on a regular basis can help you feel more full and satisfied after a meal.
This, in turn, can help you lose weight by reducing the amount of calories you consume overall. That being said, you need to ensure you are consuming mostly nutrient dense foods in general.
How do you clean leafy greens?
The best way to clean leafy greens is by dunking them in a bath of cold water to get rid of any excess dirt and impurities on the leaves.
Then, you can transfer your leafy greens to a salad spinner to remove any excess water on the outside. Alternatively you can use paper towels to gently pat off the excess water on the leaves.
Ideally, you should consume your green right away. But if you can’t, I recommend you store your leafy greens in a paper towel lined airtight container in the refrigerator.
Can you eat kale and arugula together?
Yes, of course! Kale and arugula can be consumed together. In fact, it may be more beneficial to consume multiple kinds of greens as opposed to one kind.
There is evidence to suggest that consuming more than 30 kinds of plants weekly can lead to a more diverse gut microbiome compared to those who consume less than 10 kinds of plants weekly.
If you can, search for a leafy green “mix” for salads as opposed to a single kind of leafy green. Your gut will thank you.
What vegetable has the most vitamins?
I’m sorry to say that this is impossible to answer. No one vegetable contains more of each kind of vitamin than another. Instead, some vegetables may contain more of a certain kind of vitamin than another.
Along with this, how are you comparing? By calories? By volume? By weight? These are important things to consider when asking these questions.
So instead of asking what vegetable has the most vitamins, ask what vegetable has the most vitamin A when comparing 1 cup servings. This is a more specific and overall better question.