Chard vs. Spinach: Nutrition, GI, Diets, & Health
Chard and spinach comprise over 90% water and less than 10% nutrients. Chard is slightly higher in sugars, whereas spinach is slightly higher in proteins, fats, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Spinach is 16 times richer in vitamin B9 (folate) and 1.5 times richer in vitamin K and vitamin A than chard. Chard is 2.5 times higher in sodium, containing 180mg per 100g serving.
Table of contents
Chard and spinach are leafy green vegetables, also known as leafy greens and salad greens. Like all leafy greens, they are healthy for most people but may cause adverse effects in some. This article will compare these leafy greens' nutritional values and health impacts.
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) belongs to the Spinacia genus, whereas chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris) belongs to the Beta genus. Both belong to the Chenopodioideae subfamily and the Amaranthaceae family. The family is also known as the amaranth family and includes primarily annual or perennial herbs or subshrubs.
Chard is also known as Swiss chard, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, leaf beet, and beet spinach.
The three main spinach types are savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leafed. Savoy spinach has crinkled leaves that grow relatively low and take the cold better than the other types. Semi-savoy spinach grows more upright than savoy spinach and has less crinkly leaves. The smooth-leafed spinach has a very smooth surface, making it easy to clean. This spinach can be canned, frozen, or sold fresh.
On the other hand, chard is divided into two main groups: the cicla and the flavescens groups. The flavescens group Swiss chard leaves are large and fleshy, whereas the cicla group is leafier and reminds spinach. The flavescens are subdivided into white and colorful stem groups.
The nutritional values in this article are presented for 100g of cooked spinach and chard. Both are boiled, drained and contain no added salt. One cup of chard weights around 175g, whereas the same amount of spinach weights around 180g
Chard and spinach comprise over 90% water and less than 10% nutrients. Chard is slightly higher in carbs, whereas spinach is slightly higher in proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Chard and spinach are very low in calories, providing 20 and 23 calories per 100g serving, respectively.
Spinach contains 1g more protein than chard. Cooked spinach contains 2.97g of proteins, whereas chard contains 1.88g.
Both leafy greens contain negligible amounts of fat: less than 0.5g per 100g serving.
Chard is slightly higher in total carbs than spinach. Chard contains 4.13g of total carbs, whereas spinach contains 3.75g per 100g serving.
Among the carbohydrates in chard, dietary fiber makes up 2.1g, and sugars make up 1.1g; in spinach, dietary fiber makes up 2.4g, and sugars make up 0.43g.
Both chard and spinach are rich in vitamins and minerals, spinach being significantly richer in some.
Spinach is 16 times richer in vitamin B9 (folate) and 1.5 times richer in vitamin K and vitamin A than chard. However, both cover the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamins K and A by over 100%. Spinach covers the recommended daily value of folate by 37%.
100g of spinach covers the DV of vitamins A and K by 210% and 410%, respectively. Chard covers the DV of vitamins A and K by 122% and 273%, respectively.
Spinach is richer in vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, and vitamin E. On the other hand, chard is richer in vitamin C and slightly richer in vitamin B5.
Vitamin K & Anticoagulants
Vitamin K plays a significant role in coagulation (blood clotting), while Warfarin (Coumadin) and other anticoagulants make the blood clot more slowly. If you take warfarin or similar drugs, it is advised to make sure that you consume consistent amounts of vitamin K daily to avoid the risk of bleeding or making blood clots (1).
Spinach is over 2.5 times richer in manganese, 2 times richer in calcium and zinc, and 1.5 times richer in iron. Spinach is also richer in phosphorus and selenium, whereas chard is richer in potassium. Both contain similar levels of magnesium and copper.
Chard is naturally 2.5 times higher in sodium. A 100g of chard and spinach contain 180mg and 70mg of sodium, respectively. According to the FDA, the RDV of sodium should be less than 2300 mg daily (2).
Oxalates & Kidney Stones
Most people can safely consume oxalates or oxalic acids; however, those in risk groups (current and previous history or family history of oxalate kidney stones) should avoid consuming high-oxalate foods (3).
Phytochemicals are non-nutrient bioactive plant compounds linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases and cancer.
Spinach is studied to contain phytosterols, saponins, alkaloids, phenolics, tannins, glycosides, flavonoids, quinones, coumarin, terpenoids, anthocyanins, and emodins (4, 5).
Chard contains betalains, flavonoids, phenolic acids, saponins, and terpenoids (6, 7).
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin, terpenoid carotenoid subtypes, are also present in leafy greens. 100g of cooked spinach contains 11300 mcg of lutein + zeaxanthin, whereas chard contains 11000 mcg. Lutein and zeaxanthin are studied to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and structural functions in neural tissue and protect against eye damage by absorbing harmful blue light entering the eye (8).
The glycemic index values of spinach and chard are yet to be calculated. However, leafy greens are low in sugar and high in dietary fiber; thus, they can be considered low-glycemic index foods.
The PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) value demonstrates how much acid or base the organism produces after consuming a particular food.
The PRAL value of chard is -12.4, whereas the PRAL value of spinach is -10.3. The negative PRAL values show that the food is base-producing.
Diets & Weight Loss
Both equally fit into the low-calorie diets. Spinach may be preferred in low-carb, low-fat, high-fiber, and high-protein diets. Spinach is also the better choice in a sodium-restricting diet.
Both fit into the keto, Atkins, and Mediterranean diets, anti-inflammatory diets, and the Dukan diet’s “Cruise” and “Consolidation” phases.
Leafy greens contain plant components called thylakoids. They are studied to promote satiety and reduce hunger, leading to decreased food intake and weight and body fat loss. Thylakoids may also regulate intestinal glucose uptake and act as a prebiotic for the colonic microbiota (9).
Chard and spinach are considered leafy green vegetables and belong to the same plant family; therefore, they show mainly similar effects on human health.
Leafy greens consumption, such as spinach and Swiss chard, is associated with cardiovascular health benefits and decreased risk of heart disease. According to large observational studies, leafy green and cruciferous vegetable intake are superior to yellow-orange-red vegetable and legume intake in promoting heart health (10).
Leafy greens are rich in inorganic nitrates; they mainly have a greater nitrate concentration in autumn than in spring (11). The nitrate is converted to nitrite and NO or nitric oxide; the NO widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic); thus, it may help those with high blood pressure. Nitric oxide may also decrease the risk of cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis (12).
According to the British Medical Journal (BMJ), increasing daily intake of leafy greens may significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (13).
Swiss chard extracts may regulate blood sugar levels due to their apigenin flavonoid content (14, 15). Bioactive compounds in spinach may also regulate blood glucose levels (16).
Studies suggest that high amounts of carotenoids found in chard and spinach may reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as lung, bladder, and prostate cancers (17, 18, 19).
The dietary fiber and nutrients with antioxidant activity in leafy greens decrease the risk of colorectal cancer (20, 21).
Fat Type Comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Lower in Glycemic Index||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||306µg||524µg|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet||Equal|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
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.
- Chard - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170401/nutrients
- Spinach - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168463/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.