Ah, spinach vs arugula – a question I find myself answering quite frequently and – believe it or not – one of my most sought out blog posts! People want to know: what’s the difference between the two, which one is healthier, which one will benefit me more, and so on… So, I decided to research these two, delicious, leafy green vegetables to find out what the difference in their nutrition is.
Let’s start with Arugula in this spinach vs arugula battle.
Arugula’s scientific name is Eruca sativa, and it’s an annual plant native to the Mediterranean region. Other names for arugula are “rocket”, “garden rocket”, “eruca”, and “rocket salad”. (I have to admit, “rocket” sounds a lot cooler than arugula.) I’m not sure how popular or available arugula is in the US. I found it in some Northern Virginia stores, but not all.
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Continuing our discussion on the spinach vs arugula battle, let’s talk about spinach.
The scientific name for Spinach is Spinacia oleracea. (Let’s be real, calling it Spinach is a whole lot easier.) Spinach is native to central and southwest Asia, but anyone who knows about the 2006 e.coli outbreak and 2007 salmonella outbreak, knows that spinach is widely grown in the US.
|Spinach—3.5 cups||Arugula—5 cups|
|Calories||23 kcal||25 kcal|
|Fiber||2 g||2 g|
|Protein||3 g||3 g|
|Vitamin A||56 %||47 %|
|Vitamin C||47 %||25 %|
|Vitamin K||604 %||136 %|
|Folate (vitamin B 9)||49 %||24 %|
|Potassium||16 %||11 %|
|Magnesium||20 %||12 %|
|Manganese||45 %||16 %|
|Calcium||10 %||16 %|
|Iron||15 %||8 %|
Spinach leaves are heavier, thicker, and more dense than arugula leaves. They are also darker in color. For the same weight (100 grams in the table below), spinach fills less volume; 3.5 cups vs 5 cups for arugula. The calorie, protein, and fiber content of both vegetables is similar, but the vitamins and minerals tip the scale towards spinach — except for calcium. Spinach has more vitamin A, C, K, folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron.
If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t surprised to find out that spinach is more nutrient dense. The deeper the color of the vegetable, the healthier it is. But I won’t be cutting out arugula! It’s still a healthy vegetable and it all comes down to taste, as well. If you like it, eat it. I like to mix both in salads – they look great together. Arugula and spinach are also great in pasta dishes!
One thing I noticed from experience working with my patients with food sensitivities, spinach can cause diarrhea for some people. It contains the natural food chemical tyramine (which is included in for blood test). If a patient is sensitive to spinach or tyramine, it’s better to stick with other greens like arugula, kale, or lettuce. Spinach also contains oxalates that may interfere with absorption of some nutrients.
The bottomline: spinach is slightly healthier, as long a it doesn’t cause any digestion side effects.