All the buzz around health food superstar kale got us thinking: Is it really that much better for you than less trendy spinach? Can an apple a day keep the doctor away, or should you munch on a juicy orange instead? In that vein, we decided to play a little game: a head-to-head battle between common healthy foods, to see which one packed the most nutritional punch. Just keep in mind that even though we chose a winner, there really are no losers here. Variety is the spice of life and the key to maintaining a healthy diet. So eat up!
Keep reading to see the surprising results!
Kale (per 100 grams)
Protein: 4.3 grams
Key Nutrients: 200 percent daily value of vitamin C, 199 percent vitamin A, 14 percent potassium
Spinach (per 100 grams)
Protein: 2.9 grams
Key Nutrients: 52 percent daily value of beta carotene, 180 percent vitamin A, 19 percent magnesium, 46 percent vitamin C
Photo:The Gracious Pantry
Though kale has the popularity vote, we have to give this one to spinach. A study done by a researcher at the William Paterson University suggests that spinach is more nutritionally dense than kale. The study measured the levels of 17 essential nutrients (zinc, vitamin A, and protein among them) in 47 fruits and veggies; spinach beat out kale by over 30 percentage points. However, incorporating more dark leafy greens into your diet is never a bad idea; you can't really go wrong with either of these veggies.
Apple (one medium):
Sugar: 19 grams
Fiber: 4.4 grams
Carbohydrates: 25 grams
Other Key Nutrients: 14 percent vitamin C, one percent vitamin A, five percent vitamin B-6, one percent calcium
Orange (one medium):
Sugar: 12 grams
Fiber: 3.1 grams
Carbohydrates: 15 grams
Other Key Nutrients: 116 percent daily value of vitamin C, five percent vitamin A, five percent vitamin B-6, five percent calcium
Though the saying may tell us that it's hard to compare apples and oranges, in this case, you can. And oranges are the winner. A single orange contains tons of vitamin C, which helps boost immunity. Not to mention, oranges are lower in both sugar and calories.
Almonds (per ounce):
Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates: 6 grams
Dietary Fiber: 3.5 grams
Other Key Nutrients: 48 percent daily value of vitamin E, 24 percent magnesium, 19 percent phosphorus, 11 percent zinc
Cashews (per ounce):
Fat: 12 grams
Carbohydrates: 9 grams
Dietary Fiber: 0.9 grams
Other Key Nutrients: 20 percent daily value of magnesium, 10 percent iron, five percent vitamin B-6
Photo:My Whole Food Life
While the fat and calorie counts of these two nuts have negligible differences, it's the high amounts of vitamin E—an antioxidant that helps with healthy skin and eyes—and dietary fiber that push almonds to victory.
Salmon (3-ounce serving):
Fat: 11 grams
Protein: 17 grams
Other Key Nutrients: Nearly 50 percent daily value of niacin (which may help prevent memory loss), 46 percent vitamin B-12, 55 percent omega-3 fats
Chicken (3-ounce serving):
Fat: 3.5 grams
Protein: 24 grams
Other Key Nutrients: 25 percent daily value of vitamin B-6, 45 percent niacin
While both are excellent sources of protein, chicken breast edges out the competition with less fat and fewer calories. Though that's not to say salmon doesn't pack a well-rounded array of nutrients (just be sure to choose wild-caught salmon over farm-raised, because the former contains less toxic polychlorinated biphenyl).
Which result surprised you the most? Sound off in the comments!