What is the difference between spinach and romaine lettuce?

While spinach has a broader range of culinary applications than romaine lettuce, both are celebrated staples of a lovely, fresh, healthy salad.

A mix of these two fantastic greens can be quite pleasant, but they both more or less play the same role in your salad bowl — The leafy bulk.

As such, you may opt to stick with either spinach or romaine lettuce to compose your healthy snack, but which should it be?

Both are considered superfoods, chock full of vital nutrients that can keep our minds and bodies in tip-top shape, but does one have an edge over the other?

In this article, I’ll be pitting these two greenie meanies against one another to determine which is the best overall in terms of the following questions;

  • Which one is healthier spinach or romaine?
  • Which one has the better nutritional value?

But first, which one tastes better, spinach or romaine lettuce?

Round 1: Flavor

Taste is of course subjective, but we can actually consider flavor through a more objective lens, as there are certain structural conditions in the food that we eat that lend themselves to a more robust flavor profile, conditions such as density.

Have you ever wondered what separates good coffee beans from bad coffee beans?

Well, it largely comes down to bean density, as denser beans provide a richer flavor when ground and brewed into a revitalizing cup of Joe, and the same principles apply to many other consumables.

When it comes to density, spinach is the undisputed winner. The compaction of its molecules gives it a stronger flavor and potent scent, attributes that intensify when these amazing leaves are heated.

Romaine lettuce, by contrast, isn’t very dense at all, and consequently, has an extremely faint flavor and almost nonexistent scent.

The Verdict

Spinach snags an early win thanks to its robust flavor profile.

Round 2: Mouth Feel

It may be many times denser than romaine lettuce, but spinach doesn’t really have any crispness to it, which can make eating it raw, not unpleasant, but rather strange.

Romaine lettuce, on the other hand, provides that refreshing crunch in spades, making it a fantastic choice for salads and sandwiches.

The Verdict

A mixture of fresh vegetables and fruit can up the freshness factor of spinach, but for that refreshing, crispy, crunch, there’s no substitute for romaine lettuce.

Round 3: Caloric & Carbohydrate Content

Calories

I’d like to just preface this by mentioning that no amount of spinach or romaine lettuce is going to cause any significant weight gain, as they’re both amazingly healthy plants, but there is a notable difference in calories between our two contestants.

Per 100 gram portion of spinach, you’ll consume roughly 23 calories, while gobbling up 100 grams of romaine lettuce reduces that figure to 17.

Neither leaf is really a loser on this front, as some diets require more calories while others require fewer calories, but seeing as most of us are trying to reduce our caloric intake, I’ll give this heat to romaine lettuce.

Carbohydrates

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, both of these leafy greens are remarkably low in carbs, which is why they make such fantastic additions to lean salads and sandwiches, but the carbs they do have are the good kind, helping our bodies to create glucose that we can convert into energy in order to lead more adventurous and active lifestyles.

Every 100 grams of spinach contains 3.6 g of carbs. Every 100 grams of romaine lettuce contains 3.3 g of carbohydrates.

Again, this could go either way depending on your dietary requirements, but in my eyes, spinach, with its .3 edge over romaine lettuce, is the most conducive of a healthy lifestyle.

Fiber

Fiber is essential to our digestive health. If you’ve ever had troubles with irregular or painful bowel movements, the chances are it’s because of a fiber deficiency in your diet.

There is such a thing as too much fiber, but for the most part, it’s a more the merrier situation.

Both spinach and romaine lettuce score well here, with spinach offering 2.2 g of dietary fiber per 100 grams and romaine lettuce offering 2.1 g of dietary fiber.

It’s another nail-biter of a heat here, with both leaves bringing their A-game, but spinach comes out on top.

Sugar Content

Unlike carbs and calories that are often unfairly villainized, sugar serves almost no practical purpose in our bodies, but when it comes to natural sugars such as those found in fruit and veg, they can be quite helpful in small doses.

Romaine lettuce has slightly more, with 1.2 grams per 100-gram portion. Spinach contains only 0.42 grams of sugar per 100-gram serving.

The difference here is negligible, as the sugar content of both foods is well within healthy limits; however, spinach does have less of the stuff, so it takes this heat by a hair.

The Verdict

With 3 heats to romaine lettuce’s 1, spinach wins the cal/carb round!

spinach vs romaine

Round 4: Protein

Every single cell in our bodies contains protein, so, needless to say, it’s a pretty darn essential part of our diets. It helps to repair damaged cells as well as make new ones.

It’s essential for growth and muscular development, especially in children.

And speaking of muscles, protein is a HUGE flex for spinach, as these little green leaves contain a whopping 2.9 g per 100-gram serving, whereas romaine lettuce maxes out at 1.2 g per 100-gram portion.

The Verdict

This one goes to spinach — No question!

Round 5: Saturated Fat

Fat is another constituent part of our diets that gets a bad rep, but it’s actually essential.

Providing acids that the body cannot generate naturally, it facilitates the absorption of vitamins A, D, & E. Without fat in our diet, we simply cannot metabolize these vital vitamins.

Of course, too much fat can be ruinous for our health, so it’s all about finding a sustainable balance.

If you’re needing to cut down your fat intake, then you’re better off picking romaine lettuce, as it has a minuscule 0.04 grams per 100-gram serving.

If you’re trying to boost your fat intake, you’re better off choosing spinach, as it has 0.02 g more fat per 100-gram serving than romaine lettuce.

The Verdict

I’m calling this one a draw, as the difference is insanely minimal, and which one is healthier on this account is completely subjective.

Round 6: Vitamins

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is necessary for many essential bodily functions.

Not only does it lay the foundation for the formation of blood vessels and strengthen muscle, cartilage, and the collagen in our bones, it’s an integral player in the healing process.

So, if you’re looking to recover from an injury post-haste, you should choose the food with the most vitamin C, but which is it?

Spinach should be your go-to greenie for super speedy recovery skills à la Wolverine, as it contains an insane 28.1 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, while romaine lettuce lags behind with a meager 4 mg.

To put that into perspective for you, spinach contains 603% more vitamin C per 100-gram portion than romaine lettuce.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another crucial player in our system. It helps to maintain and improve optical health; aids in cell division, reproduction, and immunity; and it contains certain antioxidant properties that keep free radicals at bay, leaving us looking and feeling youthful.

So, which of our two tasty contenders holds the essence of the fountain of youth?

It’s another remarkably close call, with spinach scoring 469 ug per 100 grams and romaine lettuce scoring in 436 ug per 100 grams, but spinach takes another step towards glory.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E also boosts our visual health, as well as our reproductive, blood, brain, and skin health, and much like vitamin A, it has some antioxidant qualities.

Spinach dominates in this round, with 14 times the vitamin E density of romaine lettuce — Spinach contains 2 mg per 100-gram serving, and romaine lettuce falls well short with 0.13 mg.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a bone builder and contains proteins that facilitate blood clotting to promptly stop bleeding when we cut ourselves.

Now, if you remember, spinach contains the lion’s share of the protein, so does that mean it also takes the K-rown?

Yep! Although both spinach and romaine lettuce are considered to be rich in vitamin K, spinach really takes the K-ake with a whopping 482.9 ug per 100-gram portion, as opposed to the 102.5 ug of romaine lettuce — That’s a 371% disparity!

The Verdict

Spinach puts on a clinic in the vitamin segment of our contest!

romaine

Round 7: B Vitamins (Lightning Round)

A combination of B vitamins have a direct impact on a number of critical aspects of our health, including cell metabolism, energy levels, and brain function.

These B-rilliant vitamins can even help us avoid infections!

Let’s take a look at what our contenders have going on in the B vitamin department:

SpinachRomaine LettuceWinner
Thiamin0.078 mg0.072 mgS
Riboflavin0.189 mg0.067 mgS
Niacin0.724 mg0.313 mgS
Pantothenic Acid0.065 mg0.142 mgRL
Vitamin B60.195 mg0.074 mgS
Folate194 ug136 ugS

The Verdict

It’s obvious spinach is the overall champion of the B vitamins.

Round 8: Minerals

Calcium

We all know and love calcium as the bone galvanizer, but it has a few other important duties too, such as helping to clot exposed blood, strengthening muscle contractions, and regulating heart rhythms and nerve functionality.

Per 100 gram serving, spinach contains twice the calcium of romaine lettuce — 99 mg Vs. 33 mg.

Iron

One of the primary components of hemoglobin, iron helps to transport oxygen throughout our bodies, leaving us feeling energized and alert.

This is why people with iron deficiencies often feel lethargic and tired.

Spinach (2.7 mg/100 g) steals another heat with a 179% victory over romaine lettuce (0.97 mg/100 g).

Potassium

Potassium is a fluid regulator in our cells — The internal counterpart of sodium, which is responsible for regulating external fluids.

Potassium deficiencies can lead to muscle weakness, abnormal heart rhythms, and in severe cases, paralysis, so you’ll definitely want to cram a bunch into your daily diet!

With 558 mg per 100 grams, spinach is by far the best snack for boosting potassium levels, but you’ll still get plenty if you go with romaine lettuce instead, 247 mg per 100 gram serving to be precise.

The Verdict

Spinach once again takes every single heat in the round!

Round 9: Flavonoids (Lightning Round 2)

Flavonoids make up part of our natural defense mechanism that helps us fight off disease. They do so by protecting cells from oxidative damage; they also have anti-inflammatory properties.

SpinachRomaine LettuceWinner
Luteolin0.74 mg0.05 mgS
Kaempferol6.38 mg0.02 mgS
Quercetin3.97 mg2.2 mgS
Myricetin0.35 mgS

The Verdict

Spinach absolutely storms the flavonoid category!

spinach

Round 10: Carotenoids (Lightning Round 3)

Carotenoids are all about galvanizing the immune system, helping us to stave off and recover from illnesses.

SpinachRomaine LettuceWinner
Beta-Carotene5626 ug5226 ugS
Lutein + Zeaxanthin12,198 ug2312 ugS

The Verdict

It’s another runaway victory for spinach!

Round 11: Omega 3s & 6s (Lightning Round 4)

The omegas’ primary duty is to support brain function, but they also help in a much more general sense with growth and development.

SpinachRomaine LettuceWinner
Alpha Linoleic Acid (Omega 3)0.138 g0.113 gS
Linoleic Acid (Omega 6)0.026 g0.047 gRL

The Verdict

We have a straight tie here, folks, with spinach winning on the omega 3 side of things and romaine lettuce taking charge on the omega 6 side of business.

The Final Verdict

Now that the dust has settled on our salad scuffle, I think it’s pretty clear that overall, spinach is the super food champion.

Sure, romaine put up a good fight, even claiming a few small wins here and there, but in the end, the sheer nutritional mite of spinach won out, leaving the romaine contender wilted in defeat.

With a total of 8 out of a possible 11 rounds, and a total of 15 out of a possible 19 heats, spinach is our winner!

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