If you’re trying to include more leafy veggies in your diet, you may find yourself at a crossroads: which is better, spinach or arugula? Do they have the same nutritional value, and does it matter which one I pick?
What is the difference between spinach and arugula you wonder?
Well, if you want to get the most nutritional bang for your buck, one of these veggies comes out on top. Keep reading to discover which is healthier and how to reap the most benefits from your choice.
What Is Spinach?
Spinach, formerly known as Spinacia Oleracea, is a vegetable that originates from Persia.
This infamous leafy green grows primarily in Central and western Asia, and its leaves can either be eaten fresh or cooked, and they’re sometimes preserved by freezing, canning, or dehydrating.
In terms of taste, raw spinach can be described as having a sweet and slightly mild taste.
However, its flavor profile can become more acidic when it’s cooked, making it a versatile veggie to throw in a number of different dishes.
What Is Arugula?
Arugula is another infamous leafy green that grows namely in warmer areas of Europe and western Asia.
Arugula is a member of the mustard family, and other close relations include kale, broccoli, and cabbage.
Arugula can be eaten raw or cooked, and its taste becomes stronger the more mature it is.
Arugula can be described as having a peppery taste that can be simultaneously bitter and bright.
Like spinach, arugula is a versatile green that can be incorporated into a number of different dishes.
Spinach: Nutritional Profile
What makes spinach one of the most popular veggies on the planet is its nutritional profile.
Spinach is considered an incredibly nutritious food, and it contains plenty of nutrients and antioxidants that can contribute to a reduction in oxidative stress, reduced blood pressure levels, and some say it can even prevent cancer.
Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional profile of spinach below.
In the average portion of raw spinach (100 grams), you can expect to find:
- 2.2 grams of Fiber
- 0.4 grams of Fat
- 0.4 grams of Sugar
- 2.9 grams of Protein
- 3.6 grams of Carbohydrates
- 91% Water
- 23 Calories
*Although spinach appears to contain a large number of carbohydrates, most of these are made up of fiber, which is incredibly good for the body.
Most of its sugar content also comes in glucose and fructose, which are healthier than processed sugars because they occur naturally.
Vitamins and minerals that occur naturally in spinach include:
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B9
- Vitamin E
The Health Benefits Of Spinach
As we can see, spinach is high in vitamins and minerals, contributing to a healthy mind and body. So, let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of spinach below.
Improved Eye Health
Spinach may help protect the eyes against damage caused by sunlight, and studies suggest that it could even combat some cases of blindness due to its ability to prevent the macular degeneration of the cataracts.
Some research suggests that the compounds found in spinach could even help reverse existing damage to the eyes.
Lower Blood Pressure
Evidence suggests that spinach could help moderate our blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
For example, one study discovered that participants eating spinach experienced lower blood pressure levels, and further studies have corroborated this evidence.
Combats Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants.
This disturbance can spark the development of a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
One way to combat oxidative stress is with antioxidants. Spinach is naturally rich in antioxidants, which can fight oxidative stress and reduce the damage it does to the body.
Research has found that people who consume spinach may be protected against oxidative stress.
Arugula: Nutritional Profile
Like Spinach, Arugula is also an incredibly nutrient-rich vegetable. Its nutritional value is another reason arugula is a popular vegetable, but how does it compare to spinach?
Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value of arugula below.
In 100 grams of arugula, you can expect to find:
- 0.7 grams of Fat
- 3.7 grams of Carbs
- 27 milligrams of Sodium
- 2.6 grams of Protein
Arugula also contains plenty of other vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Arugula has many of the same nutrients as spinach, but does it have the same health benefits?
Let’s explore some of the most important health benefits of this lesser-known cruciferous vegetable.
Protection Against Diabetes
Eating leafy greens such as arugula may help protect our bodies against diabetes – particularly type two.
For example, research has discovered that vegetables like arugula are naturally rich in fiber, which can help regulate blood glucose in the body and may even reduce resistance to insulin.
What’s more, because arugula is high in fiber, it can make us feel fuller for longer, which can combat overeating – a significant risk factor for diabetes.
Improved Heart Health
There is also evidence to suggest that arugula can improve our heart health.
Studies have found that people who eat diets that are rich in cruciferous vegetables like arugula have a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and may also be protected against atherosclerosis, a condition caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries.
Less Risk Of Cancer
Perhaps most impressively, arugula may reduce our risk of developing cancer.
For example, studies have discovered that people who eat diets that are rich in leafy greens have a reduced risk of developing cancer compared to other groups, and they also have a general overall reduction in all-cause mortality.
One of the main reasons for this is that vegetables like arugula contain glucosinolates.
These sulfur-rich substances hold most of the cancer-combating properties in the plant, and when glucosinolates break down in the body, they can turn into a compound called sulforaphane.
In addition, sulforaphane may prevent the HDAC enzyme, which is responsible for the appearance and progression of cancer.
What To Eat With Spinach
Eating leafy greens is important for our health, but it’s not always appealing. So, how can we get more spinach in our diet?
If you want to reap the benefits of spinach, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many ways to eat it, so you won’t need to miss out on its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties!
Some of the most popular ways to eat spinach include:
- With eggs
- In smoothies
- In salads
- In stews, soups, and in a stir fry
- Sauteed as a side dish
- On pizza
- In pancakes
If you’re not a fan of the taste of spinach (we get it, it’s an acquired taste!), you can also take spinach in capsule and supplement form.
Spinach capsules are often high strength, and some contain as much as 750g of spinach per capsule. Taking supplements may be the fast-track way to get the popeye effect.
What To Eat With Arugula
Like spinach, arugula has an acquired taste and texture. Not everyone is a fan of this leafy green, but if you want to reap the benefits, it’s important to find ways to incorporate it into your diet.
Thankfully, arugula is another versatile green that can be added to all sorts of dishes. So, if you’re in need of some inspiration, let’s explore some of the most popular ways to incorporate more of this powerhouse veggie into your diet:
- In a salad
- In smoothies or shakes
- In pasta dishes or as a pizza topping
- As a sauteed side with meat
- With stir fry, stew, or soup
Like spinach, arugula can also be eaten with eggs and on pizza; however, its taste is quite bitter and peppery, so it may not work well in pancakes.
If you want all the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals of arugula without the taste, you can also try taking arugula supplements.
Like spinach, arugula is available in capsule and supplement forms, meaning it has never been easier to get your daily dose of arugula goodness!
Arugula supplements are a great source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein, and all the other goodies found in Arugula’s natural form. Dosages can vary; however, most arugula capsules contain as much as 450mg per capsule.
Read More: Baby Spinach Vs Regular Spinach
Spinach: The Pros And Cons
Although spinach has plenty of incredible health benefits, it doesn’t come without its cons – yes, really.
So, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of popeye’s favorite snack.
- Spinach may prevent cancer. It contains MGDG and SQDG, which some research suggests can slow down and possibly prevent cancer growth.
- Spinach is rich in essential vitamins and nutrients such as calcium, iron, folic acid, vitamin a, vitamin c, vitamin K1, and many more.
- Spinach could combat oxidative stress, which is the leading cause of many chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Spinach is versatile, and it can be eaten raw or cooked. This means it’s easy to incorporate into your diet, even if you’re a fussy eater.
- For some people, spinach may increase the risk of developing kidney stones because spinach is high in oxalates and calcium, which could cause calcium stones in people who are at risk. Those at risk of developing kidney stones should monitor their spinach intake carefully.
- Vitamin K1, one of spinach’s most prominent vitamins, plays an important role in blood clotting. However, it may interfere with blood-thinning medication, especially if eaten in large amounts.
*Although these risks are real, they are extremely rare. For most people, spinach is safe to consume. In fact, it’s one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet!
If you’re at risk of developing kidney stones or you’re concerned that spinach may interfere with your blood-thinning medication, seek medical advice.
Read More: Which Is Healthier Kale Or Spinach?
Arugula: The Pros And Cons
Like spinach, arugula also has its own list of pros and cons to consider. So, let’s explore some of the most important pros and cons of arugula you need to know.
- Arugula is rich in many essential vitamins and nutrients, such as folate, vitamin B12, vitamin K, vitamin D, iron, protein, and more.
- Arugula may combat cancer, reduce oxidative stress, and contribute to the functioning of a healthy immune system.
- Because arugula can increase the amount of oxygen in the blood, it may also help energize the body.
- Arugula is high in sulforaphane, which may cause temporary abdominal cramping and discomfort in some people.
- Like spinach, consuming large amounts of arugula may be dangerous for people taking blood thinning medications. So if you’re taking a medication like warfarin, you should monitor your arugula intake closely.
Spinach Vs Arugula: Which One Is Better for You?
Now it’s time for the ultimate question: which is healthier, spinach or arugula?
Clearly, both arugula and spinach are high in essential nutrients and vitamins, which means whichever veggie you pick, you’ll be making a healthy choice for your body.
However, there are notable differences in vitamin content between these two leafy greens.
For example, arugula may contain as much as five times the amount of B5 as spinach. However, spinach has three times the amount of vitamins K, E, and A.
Spinach also has more riboflavin, vitamin B6 and niacin than the average serving of arugula.
So, if you’re looking to get the most nutrients from your choice, you’re probably better off opting for spinach.
Spinach also has a milder flavor than arugula, so if you struggle to eat your greens, spinach may be the most palatable and versatile choice for you.
However, we know one thing for sure: whatever decision you make, you’ll be doing your body a favor! Just remember to avoid eating your spinach or arugula with highly processed foods.
If you want the most nutrients from your choice, consider taking supplements that have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals per capsule.
Although spinach is the healthiest of these two vegetables, both are incredibly high in essential vitamins and minerals and boast some impressive health benefits.
Whichever leafy green you prefer, you can rest assured that your body is thankful for your choice!
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