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Which One is Healthier: Spinach or Arugula?

Do you ever go to your blog’s stats page to see what words or sentences people search for and end up coming to your blog? I do. And one sentence/question that shows up often is the difference between spinach and arugula.

Interesting, I thought. So I decided to research these two delicious leafy green vegetables to find out what the difference in their nutrition is.

Arugula. Source: Flickr, by: Soul Concept

Arugula’s scientific name is Eruca sativa, and it’s an annual plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. Other names of arugula are rocket, garden rocket, eruca, and rocket salad. I’m not sure how popular or available arugula is in the US. I found it in some Northern Virginia stores and farmers markets, but not all.

Spinach Leaf. Source: Flickr, by Gaeten Lee

The scientific name of spinach is Spinacia oleracea. From what I remember from my middle school biology classes, if two plants have different “first” and “last” names, then they are two unrelated plants. It’s native to central and southwest Asia, but anyone who heard of the 2006 e.coli outbreak and 2007 salmonella outbreak knows that spinach is widely grown in the US.

Spinach leaves are heavier, thicker, and more dense than arugula leaves. They are also darker in color. For the same weight (100 grams is what I used 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.

Spinachβ€”3.5 cups Arugulaβ€”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 %

I wasn’t too surprised to find out that spinach is more nutrient dense. It confirms the general advice that the deeper the color of the vegetable the healthier.

That wouldn’t deter me from eating arugula. It still is a healthy vegetable. Plus, there’s always the taste factor. If you like it, eat it. I like to mix both in salads; they look good together. Arugula and spinach are also good in pasta dishes.

Want recipes? Try this spinach and arugula salad or this steak and spinach penne I posted before.

Have a great Monday!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Crystal's Cozy Kitchen July 12, 2010, 2:18 pm

    This makes me happy that I actually love fresh spinach so much! I’m not as big of a fan of arugula.

  • Reeni July 12, 2010, 9:57 pm

    I love both of these! I prefer cooked spinach over raw and use arugula a lot in my Italian style recipes. Thanks for the info!

  • ruba July 13, 2010, 5:16 pm

    thanks for the great info on your website, I tried your yoghurt shanina :)) came in handy in this weather (we have 35 degrees here in switzerland these days)!!!… I wanted to ask you if you recommend some other cooling recipes, I am avoiding the cooker all together these days…

  • The Food Hunter July 13, 2010, 5:54 pm

    I love them both so this is all good news to me. Thanks for doing the comparison.

  • The Candid RD July 13, 2010, 9:34 pm

    I’m embarrassed to admit it but I have never had arugula (that I know of….). Maybe I have but I just didn’t realize it? Thanks for the nutritional analysis’, now I know what to tell people who ask about it. I know we sell it where I work.

    How do you find out which search phrase is most often used to find your blog??? I want to know!!

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD July 16, 2010, 2:28 am

    Thank you all for your comments! I’m glad you liked this post and found it useful πŸ™‚

  • Amy July 31, 2010, 5:45 pm

    Great blog! I had a feeling spinach would be a bit healthier too! I do however maybe enjoy arugula a tad bit better because of its peppery taste. However, I know spinach also contains two antioxidants that are key for eye health and provide less taste. Having that said, it can be secretly added into dinner meals and even smoothies! shh! πŸ™‚

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD August 9, 2010, 10:59 pm

    Thank you Amy for the comment! I think both are great! I love them both and they add variety to my meals πŸ™‚

  • Michelle August 18, 2010, 10:32 am

    I love both– this is very interesting and informative! Rocket or roquette salad is how I refer to arugula. Both, especially when eaten fresh, are an acquired taste but worth trying over and over again. And of course, they both taste better with some shaved goat cheese over the top!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD August 19, 2010, 10:36 am

      Thank you Michelle for the comment. Shaved goat cheese is so yummy… also shaved Parmesan πŸ™‚

  • Sirima March 7, 2011, 2:45 pm

    It’s funny that today i was deciding what kind of salad should I get, Spinach or Arugula. I would like to get the most nutrient salad ever. Without reading your blog, i got Arugula. πŸ™‚
    Now when i am back at my office and see your blog, i realize that i should have got Spinach…. Oh well.. πŸ™

  • Saniumar December 9, 2011, 5:37 pm

    I what to used spanich leif

  • Lisa January 22, 2012, 10:34 am

    So glad to see this info posted! In the South it is so much easier to grow Argula. It actually will grow like a weed. The flavor mellows when cooked. I like to throw in with scrambled eggs or saute quickly with olive oil. Nutritious and so cheap and quick to grow yourself.

  • JW April 21, 2012, 3:52 pm

    A little more info: “4. All Clear for Calcium

    Nutrients can have trouble getting from the food we eat into our bodies because of compounds that interfere with absorption. Oxalate is one such compound. Oxalate is found in many leafy greens like spinach and collard greens, but on the down side, it can reduce the absorption of calcium. Eating spinach and other oxalate-containing foods may lead to insufficient calcium absorption or other problems in susceptible individuals. According to the Dole Nutrition website, arugula is lower in oxalates than spinach and certain other leafy greens. If you are trying to limit oxalate in your diet, arugula is a good choice of leafy greens.”
    Read more:

    • Nour Zibdeh April 25, 2012, 8:46 pm

      Thanks JW for stopping by and for leaving a comment. You’re right. Spinach is high in oxalate compared to arugula and it should not be considered a good source of calcium because oxalate interferes with calcium absorption. However, as I mention in my post, 5 cups arugula have 160 mg calcium (16% of DV), and arugula is not considered a good source of calcium anyways. If you’re looking for non-dairy sources of calcium, you’re better off eating kale, bok choy, collard greens, tofu (read labels), tempeh , calcium-fortified orange juice, broccoli, or tahini.

  • Love Blogger Chick April 30, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Thanks for the great advice. I will continue to indulge in both. πŸ™‚

  • MarinaDelReyCA October 3, 2012, 4:48 pm

    Great information.. thank you!

  • Mike Nixon January 7, 2013, 3:50 pm

    I actually love arugula but don’t really care for the taste of spinach – wish I did. I suspect that kale is better than arugula as well but what are your thoughts on kale as it compares to spinach? It seems those two would be a closer comparison.

    • Nour Zibdeh January 7, 2013, 9:50 pm

      Thanks Mike! I wrote this post a long time ago. I think back then, I used to use either arugula or spinach for my salads. Most people wouldn’t eat kale raw, but they would eat spinach or arugula. Since the original post, I’ve started using kale for salads, and my guess is that it’s more nutrient dense than both. That would make a good blog post article! Thanks for inspiring me πŸ™‚

      • Gary January 9, 2013, 11:01 pm

        Great blog post! The ANDI scale, which has been adopted to some extent by Whole Foods, has collard greens and kale at the top of the list (1000 points) and significantly better than spinach (739) and arugula (559). I’ve started eating more pre-washed baby kale b/c of this and try to eat more collards, but I prefer them boiled, which takes extra time.

  • Sharita July 15, 2013, 8:56 am

    Thanks for the information. Given that my husband and I are working to better our health, these two leafy vegetables will help us in our journey.

    • Nour Zibdeh July 30, 2013, 9:59 am

      Thanks Sharita for stopping by and for leaving a comment. There are many more green leafy vegetable to try.. don’t stop with spinach and arugula!

  • LK September 22, 2013, 9:33 am

    actually, after some research, I found that spinach is higher in oxalates, which means lower absorption of vitamins and minerals. Surprisingly, arugula is also a member of the brassicas family. My conclusion is that arugula is better!

    • Nour Zibdeh September 30, 2013, 9:46 pm

      Thanks Lorraine for the comment. I use both πŸ™‚