The Nutritional Differences Between Kale, Collard Greens and Swiss Chard

Kale, collard greens and Swiss chard are three varieties of cooking greens that won't add a high number to your daily calorie counter. Curly leaved kale is often added to potato recipes. Collard greens, or collards, are popular in Southern cuisine. Both are members of the cabbage family. Swiss chard has thick, dark leaves and a flavor similar to spinach.

Kale

Although its calorie count is modest compared to most other foods, kale, with 130 calories per cup, has more than twice the number of calories of collard greens or Swiss chard. One cup of cooked, boiled and drained kale also contains 1 gram of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams each of sugars and protein. When prepared with no added salt, kale has only 30 micrograms of sodium. Ounce for ounce, kale is a good source of fiber, with 1 cup providing 3 grams, or 10 percent of the daily value of dietary fiber. Kale is also an excellent source of certain vitamins, providing a whopping 354 percent of the daily value of vitamin A as well as 89 percent of vitamin C, 9 percent of calcium and 6 percent of iron.

Collard Greens

One cup of cooked, boiled and drained collard greens has only 49 calories and 1 gram of sugars. Like kale, collard greens contain only 1 gram of fat and 30 micrograms of sodium. With 9 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein, collard greens contain slightly more of these nutrients than either kale or Swiss chard. Of the three types of greens, collards offer the highest amount of fiber, with 5 grams per cup. This vegetable's vitamin content is similar to other greens, with a high amount of vitamin A -- 308 percent of the daily value -- as well as 58 percent of vitamin C and 12 percent of iron. With 27 percent of the daily value of calcium, of the three types of greens, collards provide you with the most of this important mineral.

Swiss Chard

Cooked, boiled and drained Swiss chard contains a mere 35 calories per cup, the least of these three greens. It is also the lowest in fat, having 0 grams. Its 7 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar and 3 grams of protein are all similar to the amounts found in both kale and collard greens. Swiss chard stands out from the other two in its sodium content, however. Even when prepared with no added salt, Swiss chard contains 313 micrograms of sodium, so you will want to avoid adding any extra salt to a dish containing this vegetable. Like kale and collard greens, Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin A, with 214 percent of the daily value; of vitamin C, with 53 percent; and of calcium, with 10 percent. At 22 percent of the daily value per cup, Swiss chard is the best iron source of these three types of greens.

Nutritional Advantages

Whether you add kale, collard greens or Swiss chard to your plate, you are making a smart choice. Each is low in fat and cholesterol, but an excellent source of fiber. Besides calcium, iron and vitamins A and C, these greens also supply vitamins E, K and B6, thiamin, folate, riboflavin, magnesium, manganese and potassium.

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