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Cabbage vs. Spinach — Nutrition Comparison and Health Impact

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Article author photo Ani Harutyunyan by Ani Harutyunyan | Last updated on June 28, 2023
Medically reviewed by Victoria Mazmanyan Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Cabbage
vs
Spinach raw

Summary

Cabbage is nearly 2 times higher in carbohydrates, mostly due to net carbs. Spinach is relatively higher in protein.

Spinach is a better source of most minerals and vitamins, providing 7 times more copper and magnesium, 3 times more potassium, 96 times more vitamin A, and 14 times more vitamin E.

Introduction

Being members of different plant families, cabbage and spinach have a lot of differences. While these vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, spinach and cabbage differ in nutrient content. This article will discuss the general and nutritional differences, along with the health impacts of raw cabbage and raw spinach (1, 2).

Taste and Appearance

Cabbage belongs to the genus Brassica and can come in red, white, green, and purplish colors. It usually has a peppery taste but a sweet flavor when cooked. Cabbage is native to Western Europe.

Spinach comes from southwest Asia. It belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family. Spinach leaves are considerably smaller compared to cabbage leaves. They are usually green. Spinach tends to have a bitter taste.

Nutrition

The nutritional infographics below are presented for 100g servings of raw cabbage and lettuce.

Macronutrients

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Carbs +59.8%
Contains more Protein +123.4%
Contains more Fats +290%
Contains more Other +168.8%
Equal in Water - 91.4
6% 92%
Protein: 1.28 g
Fats: 0.1 g
Carbs: 5.8 g
Water: 92.18 g
Other: 0.64 g
3% 4% 91% 2%
Protein: 2.86 g
Fats: 0.39 g
Carbs: 3.63 g
Water: 91.4 g
Other: 1.72 g
Contains more Carbs +59.8%
Contains more Protein +123.4%
Contains more Fats +290%
Contains more Other +168.8%
Equal in Water - 91.4

Carbs

Cabbage has more carbs than spinach. Cabbage has 5.8g of carbohydrates per 100g, while spinach has 3.63g. Furthermore, spinach has almost 8 times less sugar than cabbage. Spinach also contains nearly 15 times less glucose and 10 times less fructose.

Carbohydrate type comparison

Carbohydrate type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Sucrose +14.3%
Contains more Glucose +1418.2%
Contains more Fructose +866.7%
Contains more Maltose +∞%
Contains more Galactose +∞%
2% 52% 45%
Starch: 0 g
Sucrose: 0.08 g
Glucose: 1.67 g
Fructose: 1.45 g
Lactose: 0 g
Maltose: 0.01 g
Galactose: 0 g
16% 26% 35% 23%
Starch: 0 g
Sucrose: 0.07 g
Glucose: 0.11 g
Fructose: 0.15 g
Lactose: 0 g
Maltose: 0 g
Galactose: 0.1 g
Contains more Sucrose +14.3%
Contains more Glucose +1418.2%
Contains more Fructose +866.7%
Contains more Maltose +∞%
Contains more Galactose +∞%

Dietary Fiber

Cabbage and spinach provide nearly the same amount of fiber. Cabbage is usually higher in soluble fiber, while spinach contains more insoluble fiber.

Net Carbs

Net carbs are the carbohydrates in food used to synthesize energy. Subtract the amount of fiber from the total carbs in the food to get the net carb amount.

Cabbage provides 5.8 grams of carbs and 2.5 grams of fiber. On the other hand, spinach provides 3.63 grams of carbohydrates and 2.2 grams of fiber per 100g serving. Cabbage has 3.3 grams of net carbs, whereas spinach has 1.43 grams. Hence, spinach has a lower net carb content.

Proteins

Vegetables are generally not considered protein sources, but they contain some amounts of proteins. Spinach provides over 2 times more protein than cabbage. It contains 2.86g per 100g, compared to 1.28g in cabbage.

Fats

Fats are not found in cabbage or spinach in considerable quantities. Cabbage has 0.1 grams of fat per 100 grams of vegetable, whereas spinach has 0.39 grams. 

The two vegetables do not contain a significant amount.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -46%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +70%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +870.6%
50% 25% 25%
Saturated Fat: 0.034 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.017 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.017 g
26% 4% 69%
Saturated Fat: 0.063 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.165 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -46%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +70%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +870.6%

Calories

Cabbage and spinach have almost similar amounts of calories, both being very low-calorie foods. However, cabbage has 25 calories per 100g of vegetable, compared to 23 for spinach.

Vitamins

Vitamins are abundant in vegetables such as cabbage and spinach.

Spinach is a better source of most vitamins. Spinach offers significantly more vitamin A than cabbage, with 9377IU per 100g compared to 98IU in cabbage. It contains almost 14 times more vitamin E and 4 times more vitamin B9 or folate.

Spinach is also richer in vitamins K, B1, B2, B3, and B6.  

That being said, cabbage is 3 times higher in vitamin B5 and somewhat richer in vitamin C.

For more detailed information, check the vitamin comparison chart below.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin C +30.2%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +226.2%
Contains more Vitamin A +9468.4%
Contains more Vitamin E +1253.3%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +27.9%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +372.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +209.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +57.3%
Contains more Folate +351.2%
Contains more Choline +80.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +535.4%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 6% 3% 0% 122% 16% 10% 5% 13% 29% 33% 0% 6% 190%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 563% 41% 0% 94% 20% 44% 14% 4% 45% 146% 0% 11% 1208%
Contains more Vitamin C +30.2%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +226.2%
Contains more Vitamin A +9468.4%
Contains more Vitamin E +1253.3%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +27.9%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +372.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +209.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +57.3%
Contains more Folate +351.2%
Contains more Choline +80.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +535.4%

A 100g serving of spinach covers the daily need for vitamin A by 188% and for vitamin K by 402%. At the same time, the same serving of cabbage provides 41% of the daily required vitamin C amount.

Minerals

Spinach is the absolute winner in this section.

Spinach provides 7 times more copper and magnesium, 6 times more iron and manganese, and 3 times more potassium. Spinach is also richer in selenium, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus.

However, cabbage contains almost 2 times less sodium.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains less Sodium -77.2%
Contains more Calcium +147.5%
Contains more Iron +476.6%
Contains more Magnesium +558.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +88.5%
Contains more Potassium +228.2%
Contains more Zinc +194.4%
Contains more Copper +584.2%
Contains more Manganese +460.6%
Contains more Selenium +233.3%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 12% 18% 9% 12% 15% 3% 5% 7% 21% 2%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 30% 102% 57% 22% 50% 11% 15% 44% 117% 6%
Contains less Sodium -77.2%
Contains more Calcium +147.5%
Contains more Iron +476.6%
Contains more Magnesium +558.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +88.5%
Contains more Potassium +228.2%
Contains more Zinc +194.4%
Contains more Copper +584.2%
Contains more Manganese +460.6%
Contains more Selenium +233.3%

Health impact

Blood Pressure Management

High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Cabbage and spinach can be beneficial for blood pressure management.

Because potassium lessens the effects of sodium, foods high in potassium can be important for treating high blood pressure. The more potassium is consumed, the more salt is lost through the urine. Additionally, potassium helps to reduce blood vessel wall tension, which further lowers blood pressure (3).

In otherwise healthy persons with blood pressure over 120/80 mmHg, increasing potassium through diet is advised (3). 

Cabbage, especially the red variety of it, is an excellent source of potassium and may help keep blood pressure in a healthy range. However, spinach falls in the top 11% of foods as a source of potassium, providing 16% of the daily needed value for this mineral per 100g.

Spinach consumption has shown blood pressure-lowering properties (4). This is also due to the high amounts of nitrate contained in spinach (5).

Antioxidants

Harmful free oxygen radicals can cause oxidative stress and harm cells and tissues. As a result, oxidative stress may cause cardiovascular diseaseobesity, and Alzheimer’s disease (7, 8). Antioxidants are chemicals that help to neutralize this effect (6). Cabbage and spinach are both high in antioxidants. These two vegetables play different roles in the organism's antioxidant defense.

Spinach consumption is linked with DNA stabilization during oxidative stress (9). This is due to the carotenoid or vitamin A content of spinach (10).

Cabbage is high in vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant that can protect the organism against heart disease and some cancers (11, 12).

Article author photo Ani Harutyunyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: June 28, 2023
Medically reviewed by Victoria Mazmanyan

Infographic

Cabbage vs Spinach raw infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Cabbage Spinach raw
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in price Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Cabbage Spinach raw Opinion
Net carbs 3.3g 1.43g Cabbage
Protein 1.28g 2.86g Spinach raw
Fats 0.1g 0.39g Spinach raw
Carbs 5.8g 3.63g Cabbage
Calories 25kcal 23kcal Cabbage
Fructose 1.45g 0.15g Cabbage
Sugar 3.2g 0.42g Spinach raw
Fiber 2.5g 2.2g Cabbage
Calcium 40mg 99mg Spinach raw
Iron 0.47mg 2.71mg Spinach raw
Magnesium 12mg 79mg Spinach raw
Phosphorus 26mg 49mg Spinach raw
Potassium 170mg 558mg Spinach raw
Sodium 18mg 79mg Cabbage
Zinc 0.18mg 0.53mg Spinach raw
Copper 0.019mg 0.13mg Spinach raw
Manganese 0.16mg 0.897mg Spinach raw
Selenium 0.3µg 1µg Spinach raw
Vitamin A 98IU 9377IU Spinach raw
Vitamin A RAE 5µg 469µg Spinach raw
Vitamin E 0.15mg 2.03mg Spinach raw
Vitamin C 36.6mg 28.1mg Cabbage
Vitamin B1 0.061mg 0.078mg Spinach raw
Vitamin B2 0.04mg 0.189mg Spinach raw
Vitamin B3 0.234mg 0.724mg Spinach raw
Vitamin B5 0.212mg 0.065mg Cabbage
Vitamin B6 0.124mg 0.195mg Spinach raw
Folate 43µg 194µg Spinach raw
Choline 10.7mg 19.3mg Spinach raw
Vitamin K 76µg 482.9µg Spinach raw
Tryptophan 0.011mg 0.039mg Spinach raw
Threonine 0.035mg 0.122mg Spinach raw
Isoleucine 0.03mg 0.147mg Spinach raw
Leucine 0.041mg 0.223mg Spinach raw
Lysine 0.044mg 0.174mg Spinach raw
Methionine 0.012mg 0.053mg Spinach raw
Phenylalanine 0.032mg 0.129mg Spinach raw
Valine 0.042mg 0.161mg Spinach raw
Histidine 0.022mg 0.064mg Spinach raw
Saturated Fat 0.034g 0.063g Cabbage
Monounsaturated Fat 0.017g 0.01g Cabbage
Polyunsaturated fat 0.017g 0.165g Spinach raw

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Cabbage Spinach raw
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
33%
Cabbage
168%
Spinach raw
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
10%
Cabbage
45%
Spinach raw

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Spinach raw
Spinach raw is lower in Sugar (difference - 2.78g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Spinach raw
Spinach raw is lower in glycemic index (difference - 32)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Spinach raw
Spinach raw is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Spinach raw
Spinach raw is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Sodium?
Cabbage
Cabbage contains less Sodium (difference - 61mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Cabbage
Cabbage is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.029g)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($0.2)

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Cabbage - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169975/nutrients
  2. Spinach raw - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168462/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

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