The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Nutrition Blog-Line: Dark Leafy Greens

Posted on January 04, 2010 by The VRG Blog Editor

As a parallel segment to Vegetarian Journal’s Nutrition Hotline feature, The VRG Blog runs a Nutrition Blog-line feature. In this installment, Julia Driggers, R.D., answers a question about leafy greens. This question comes to us by way of a number of people recently asking about the nutritional benefits of dark greens at VRG’s tables at events such as DC VegFest and the Baltimore Book Festival. If you would like to submit a nutrition question, you can email it to

Many of us know that we should eat our leafy greens, but how many of us know why? Dark greens are important because they are a good source of essential nutrients such as iron and calcium. common dark green leafy vegetables in the United States include spinach, collards, bok choy, kale, and turnip greens. In addition to iron and calcium, these green veggies are packed with other vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, fiber, and folate. However, each dark green leafy vegetable is unique and varies in nutrition content. It is important to vary your intake of all leafy greens, but if you are focused on increasing a specific nutrient in your diet, the table below can help.

1 cup of Fresh Cooked, Boiled Vegetable Vit.C (mg) Iron (mg) Calcium (mg) Fiber (g) Folate (mcg)
Spinach 17.6 6.4 245 4.3 263
Collards 34.6 2.2 266 5.3 177
Kale 53 1.2 94 2.6 17
Bok Choy 44 1.8 158 1.7 70
Turnip Greens 35.8 1.15 197 5.0 170

**Although the calcium content in spinach appears high, it is not a good source of calcium. Spinach also contains oxalates which block the absorption of calcium in the spinach thus making spinach a poor source of calcium.

If you are focused on increasing your calcium, collards, turnip greens, and bok choy are excellent choices. In addition, good sources of folate (a nutrient particularly important for women of child bearing age and those who are pregnant) include spinach, collards, and turnip greens.

Won’t it feel better eating your greens now that you know how good they are for you? Enjoy your leafys and keep ‘em coming!

Here are a few other articles that you might also find helpful:

How to Cook Mouthwatering Greens:
Calcium in the Vegan Diet: Calcium in the Vegan Diet:
Nutrition Hotline (Question #2, about calcium content in raw/cooked vs. frozen/cooked greens):

Your body loves you,


1 to “Nutrition Blog-Line: Dark Leafy Greens”

  1. A study called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) concluded that antioxidants found in standard foods were possibly able to help reduce the possibility of contracting an age related eye diseases. In particular, lutein was found to be important in proper eye health and potential issues with a disease called age-related macular degeneration. Spinach and Kale are rich in Lutein…


    Gravity Gardener

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