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Broccoli vs Spinach - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Broccoli
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Spinach

Introduction

Healthy lifestyle is what we all strive for, but few of us manage to keep it because of tense timetable and other factors. But there is one worldwide known truth, you are what you eat. So let’s compare two great vegetables and see what health benefits we can absorb from them. Being the leading member of cruciferous family, broccoli is the well-known food of ancient Romans. This amazingly useful vegetable can be used in cooked, steamed, microwaved and raw form. In raw form it is often added to smoothies and salads and there is a widespread idea that it is much healthier steamed than cooked. All types of this vegetable belong to the Brassica genus of plants. What refers to color, you can meet this vegetable from deep sage to dark green and purplish green. Its sprouts are used worldwide and there are no concerns in regard to their tolerance and safety for human body. The other useful green is spinach. We can speak about its health benefits for hours and there will still be more to add. This leafy green is also consumed in cooked and raw form. The area of its usage is wide and you can use your culinary imagination to make the most of it. Generally, it is a wonderful season crop and extremely sensitive to excessive heat. It also grows very quickly and forms flowers and seeds fast. It is considered one of the healthiest greens on earth thanks to various types of flavonoid antioxidants present in spinach. It is a perfect nutrient-dense food if we put together its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When choosing spinach pay attention to its leaves, as there shouldn’t be any sighs of yellowing. It should look fresh and tender instead of being bruised and wilted. Besides, when choosing leafy greens, keep in mind that dark ones are rich in chlorophylls and are irreplaceable for skin, hair and bone health as they provide protein, iron, a lot of vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional Content Comparison

Broccoli is a perfect source of vitamin C and its amount its amount is radically high compared to spinach (almost 3 times more per 300grams). From the other hand, the latter contains 4 times more vitamin K than the first one. Moreover, broccoli is a good source of zinc, calcium, selenium, pantothenic acid, chromium, folate, vitamin E, vitamin B1 and so on. Furthermore, from the standpoint of calories per 100gr, the first one is higher in calories than the second one (the ratio is 34/23). With the amount of proteins these two greens are almost equal (2.82/2.86 in 100gr), whereas broccoli contains two times more carbohydrates than the other green. In general, spinach contains significantly high amounts of vitamins and minerals. What refers to minerals, it’s a great source of iron and contains 3 times more iron than the other one per 300grams. Spinach is also nutritionally rich green and contains considerable amount of manganese, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, lutein, protein, choline, etc.

Health Impact

Broccoli sprouts are used worldwide and there have never been any concerns regarding its tolerance and safety for human body and this study is a mere proof of it. According another study this vegetable is enjoyed by kids when it is properly cooked instead of being soft and mushy, as because of excessive heat it loses flavor and useful nutrients. That’s why the preferable cooking method for it is steaming. We would not invent a bicycle if we state that over 300 research studies on broccoli are there to prove that it is able to decrease the risk of several types of cancer and its effectiveness to three metabolic issues like chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and inadequate detoxification is a fact. There is an essential understanding due to the research made during recent decade that the risk of cancer in various organ systems in our body is mainly related to the combination of these three problems. Another interesting study has been carried out on rats stating that broccoli is able to prevent several types of cancer due to the high amount of selenium. The vegetable used for this experiment was grown in special conditions and contained considerable high amount of selenium (approximately a few times more, than you can find in common ones sold in the grocery store). This super vegetable has other health benefits as well, that we will list below:

  • Cancer prevention
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Detoxification improvement
  • Digestive support
  • Cardiovascular support
A recent research states that the dark green color of spinach is a sign of high level of chlorophyll and health promoting carotenoids like lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin. They have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous features and are perfect for healthy eye-sight, as they help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Scientists have recently carried out an interesting experiment and have used spinach to receive working human heart muscle. It is one step forward in medication as it will be possible to solve a long-lasting problem related to repairing damaged organs. It will give a chance to grow a vascular system being a roadblock for tissue engineering. Let’s see what other health benefits we can have eating spinach:
  • Asthma prevention
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Bone health
  • Healthy skin and hair
  • Diabetes management
  • Cancer prevention

SUMMARY

By summarizing, we should add that both greens contain many nutrients responsible for preventing cancer risk and other health problems like inflammation, cardio-vascular issues, digestive problems, diabetes, asthma and so on. But it should be mentioned that spinach contains critically high amounts of vitamins and minerals than broccoli (the ratio is 1/7). Nevertheless, spinach is a great source of vitamin K, A and C, and the amounts of iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium are almost 2-3 times more than in broccoli. Nevertheless, the latter is advisable for athletes and kids due to its high nutritional values, as it contains more calories than the other one. Although both of them are sensitive to temperature and you will lose all necessary nutrients when overcooking them.

References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16965241
https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2001/souped-up-broccoli-broccoli-sprouts-deter-cancers-in-rats/
Article author photo Tatevik  Stepanyan
Profession: Food Blogger
Last updated: November 29, 2020

Infographic

Broccoli vs Spinach infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Phosphorus +34.7%
Contains less Sodium -58.2%
Contains more Iron +271.2%
Contains more Calcium +110.6%
Contains more Potassium +76.6%
Contains more Magnesium +276.2%
Contains more Copper +165.3%
Contains more Zinc +29.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +34.7%
Contains less Sodium -58.2%
Contains more Iron +271.2%
Contains more Calcium +110.6%
Contains more Potassium +76.6%
Contains more Magnesium +276.2%
Contains more Copper +165.3%
Contains more Zinc +29.3%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin C +217.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +781.5%
Contains more Vitamin A +1405.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +160.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +61.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +13.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +11.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +375.3%
Contains more Folate, total +207.9%
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.078
Contains more Vitamin C +217.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +781.5%
Contains more Vitamin A +1405.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +160.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +61.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +13.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +11.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +375.3%
Contains more Folate, total +207.9%
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.078

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
78
Broccoli
214
Spinach
Mineral Summary Score
14
Broccoli
30
Spinach

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Protein
17%
Broccoli
17%
Spinach
Carbohydrates
7%
Broccoli
4%
Spinach
Fats
2%
Broccoli
2%
Spinach

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Broccoli Spinach
Lower in Sugars ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in glycemic index Equal

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Broccoli Spinach
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet Equal

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sugars?
Spinach
Spinach contains less Sugars (difference - 1.28g)
Which food is cheaper?
Spinach
Spinach is cheaper (difference - $0.2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Spinach
Spinach is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Spinach
Spinach is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Sodium?
Broccoli
Broccoli contains less Sodium (difference - 46mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Broccoli
Broccoli is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.024g)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (32)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Broccoli Spinach Opinion
Calories 34 23 Broccoli
Protein 2.82 2.86 Spinach
Fats 0.37 0.39 Spinach
Vitamin C 89.2 28.1 Broccoli
Carbs 6.64 3.63 Broccoli
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.73 2.71 Spinach
Calcium 47 99 Spinach
Potassium 316 558 Spinach
Magnesium 21 79 Spinach
Sugars 1.7 0.42 Broccoli
Fiber 2.6 2.2 Broccoli
Copper 0.049 0.13 Spinach
Zinc 0.41 0.53 Spinach
Starch 0 Broccoli
Phosphorus 66 49 Broccoli
Sodium 33 79 Broccoli
Vitamin A 623 9377 Spinach
Vitamin E 0.78 2.03 Spinach
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.071 0.078 Spinach
Vitamin B2 0.117 0.189 Spinach
Vitamin B3 0.639 0.724 Spinach
Vitamin B5 0.573 0.065 Broccoli
Vitamin B6 0.175 0.195 Spinach
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 101.6 482.9 Spinach
Folate, total 63 194 Spinach
Folic acid (B9) 0 0
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat 0.039 0.063 Broccoli
Monounsaturated Fat 0.011 0.01 Broccoli
Polyunsaturated fat 0.038 0.165 Spinach
Tryptophan 0.033 0.039 Spinach
Threonine 0.088 0.122 Spinach
Isoleucine 0.079 0.147 Spinach
Leucine 0.129 0.223 Spinach
Lysine 0.135 0.174 Spinach
Methionine 0.038 0.053 Spinach
Phenylalanine 0.117 0.129 Spinach
Valine 0.125 0.161 Spinach
Histidine 0.059 0.064 Spinach
Fructose 0.68 0.15 Broccoli

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented seperately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links of the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Broccoli - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170379/nutrients
  2. Spinach - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168462/nutrients

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.