Spinach vs Arugula

In comparing leafy greens, spinach and arugula offer a diverse range of flavors and nutrients. As staple ingredients in salads, sandwiches, and smoothies, both greens have become increasingly popular among health-conscious consumers. The versatility of these nutritious plants makes them essential options for those seeking dietary rewards without sacrificing taste.

Spinach, known for its mild flavor, pairs well with various ingredients, allowing for a myriad of culinary creations. With an impressive nutritional profile, spinach is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, and vitamin K. On the other hand, arugula imparts a unique, peppery taste that adds a distinctive flair to dishes. This green may be lower in minerals compared to spinach, yet it still contributes a significant amount of vitamin K, vitamin A, and folate to the diet.

Exploring the differences between spinach and arugula allows consumers to make informed decisions when incorporating these nutrient-dense greens into their meals. Whether adding a bold kick of flavor or seeking a mild base for other ingredients, understanding the variations between these plants can enrich and diversify any healthy eating plan.

Nutritional Comparison

Vitamin Content

In the realm of leafy greens, both spinach and arugula offer an abundance of vitamins. When it comes to Vitamin A content, spinach is superior with roughly 9350 IU per 100 grams, while arugula has about 2373 IU per 100 grams. For Vitamin C, arugula offers approximately 15 mg per 100 grams, while spinach has a slightly lower amount of 14.1 mg per 100 grams. However, spinach takes the lead in Vitamin K content, containing 482.9 micrograms per 100 grams, compared to arugula’s 109 micrograms.

Moreover, both greens provide a good amount of folate. Spinach contains 141 micrograms per 100 grams, while arugula offers 97 micrograms per 100 grams.

Mineral Content

In terms of mineral content, both spinach and arugula are rich sources. Examining calcium, spinach stands out with 81 mg per 100 grams, compared to 160 mg in arugula. For iron, spinach has 2.6 mg per 100 grams, while arugula offers 1.5 mg. When looking at magnesium, spinach again takes the lead with 68 mg per 100 grams, while arugula has 47 mg. Lastly, both leafy greens provide a significant amount of potassium, with spinach containing 458 mg per 100 grams and arugula offering 369 mg.

Other Nutrients

In addition to vitamins and minerals, other essential nutrients can be found in both spinach and arugula. Analyzing their fiber content, spinach has 2.2 grams per 100 grams, while arugula contains 1.6 grams per 100 grams. For protein, spinach provides 2.2 grams per 100 grams, whereas arugula has 2.6 grams.

In terms of calories, both leafy greens are low-calorie options. Spinach has only 22 calories per 100 grams, while arugula has a mere 25 calories. Furthermore, both greens are high in water content, contributing to their low-calorie counts and making them suitable for hydration purposes.

In conclusion, both spinach and arugula offer a wide range of nutritional benefits, and incorporating them into a healthy diet can provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Health Benefits

What’s healthier? Spinach vs arugula #spinach #healthygreens #nutritiontips

Cardiovascular Health

Spinach and arugula are both excellent additions to a heart-healthy diet. They contain essential nutrients that are known to aid in cardiovascular health. Spinach is rich in folate and iron, which contribute to red blood cell production and blood flow. Arugula, on the other hand, is a reliable source of nitrates that can help lower blood pressure.

A few notable nutrients in these greens are:

NutrientSpinachArugula
FolateHighModerate
IronHighModerate
NitratesModerateHigh

Bone Health

Both spinach and arugula have beneficial nutrients for maintaining strong and healthy bones. They are both good sources of calcium and vitamin K. Calcium is crucial for bone health, and vitamin K helps increase bone mineral density and reduce fracture risk.

Some key nutrients for bone health include:

NutrientSpinachArugula
CalciumHighModerate
Vitamin KHighHigh

Antioxidant Properties

Spinach and arugula also exhibit remarkable antioxidant properties. Spinach contains high amounts of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that supports eye health and boosts the immune system. Arugula is packed with vitamin C, an essential antioxidant that protects the body against free radicals and strengthens the immune function.

Here are the antioxidant levels in both leafy greens:

AntioxidantSpinachArugula
Beta-CaroteneHighLow
Vitamin CModerateHigh

In conclusion, incorporating spinach and arugula into your diet can lead to numerous health benefits. Both greens are especially valuable for promoting cardiovascular and bone health and boasting powerful antioxidant properties.

Culinary Uses

Salads and Raw Preparations

Both spinach and arugula are popular salad greens, each offering unique flavors and textures to dishes. Spinach has a mild and slightly sweet taste, while arugula offers a peppery, slightly bitter flavor. The texture of spinach leaves is soft and smooth, while arugula has a more crisp and slightly chewy texture.

These two greens can be used interchangeably in salads or combined for a blend of flavors. Below are some common salad preparations with suggested dressings to enhance their taste:

  • Spinach salad: Baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced red onion, crumbled goat cheese, toasted walnuts, and a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey.
  • Arugula salad: Arugula leaves, thinly sliced pear, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, candied pecans, and a lemon vinaigrette with lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and honey.

In addition to salads, both spinach and arugula perform well in raw dishes, such as wraps and sandwiches. Arugula’s peppery flavor adds an excellent contrast to prosciutto, mozzarella, or turkey, while spinach pairs nicely with tomatoes, avocados, and various spreads.

Cooking and Dishes

Spinach and arugula can be utilized in a variety of cooked dishes. Spinach’s milder flavor makes it a versatile ingredient, while arugula’s bold taste can create a unique twist in familiar dishes. Here’s a breakdown of popular dishes and how each green compliments their respective flavors:

DishSpinachArugula
SoupSpinach is often added to vegetable soups, cream-based soups, and even in Italian wedding soup.Arugula can be added to soups for an extra kick of flavor, particularly in potato or tomato-based soups.
PastaSpinach is a classic ingredient in dishes like lasagna, spinach and ricotta stuffed shells, or fettuccine.Arugula works well tossed in pasta with garlic, chili flakes, and parmesan, or in a lemony pasta salad.
PizzaSpinach can be added to various types of pizza, such as white sauce or margherita pizzas.Arugula is often placed on top of a pizza after baking, like a classic arugula and prosciutto pizza.
OmeletSpinach complements well with other omelet ingredients like cheese, mushrooms, and tomatoes.Arugula adds a peppery flavor to omelets, especially combined with goat cheese or roasted red peppers.

In conclusion, both spinach and arugula bring unique tastes, textures, and culinary uses to the table. From salads to cooked dishes, these versatile greens can enhance a wide range of meals, offering delightful flavors and presentation possibilities.

Taste and Flavor Profile

Arugula

Arugula, also known as rocket, offers a distinct peppery flavor with a hint of bitterness. The taste varies depending on the maturity of the leaves – younger leaves tend to have a milder flavor, while older leaves are more peppery and bitter. Its texture is crisp and tender, making it an excellent choice for salads and other raw dishes.

Some common flavor pairings for arugula include:

  • Citrus fruits, such as lemon or grapefruit
  • Salty ingredients, like feta cheese or olives
  • Nuts, particularly walnuts and pine nuts
  • Tangy dressings or vinaigrettes

Spinach

Spinach, on the other hand, is known for its mild flavor with a slightly sweet, earthy undertone. It is less bitter than arugula, and its taste remains consistent irrespective of leaf age. The texture of spinach leaves is generally more tender than that of arugula, especially when cooked.

Here are a few popular flavor pairings for spinach:

  • Creamy ingredients, such as goat cheese or yogurt
  • Garlic, onion, or shallots
  • Mushrooms, tomatoes, or bell peppers
  • Nutmeg, thyme, or parsley

In summary, arugula has a bold, peppery flavor with a hint of bitterness, while spinach offers a milder, earthier taste. Both greens provide distinct textures and flavors, making them great options for various dishes.

Physical Characteristics

Appearance

Spinach and arugula are both popular leafy green vegetables. Spinach has a more rounded, broad leaf with a dark green color, while arugula features a slender, elongated leaf that is often described as having a “feather-like” or “lobed” shape. Arugula generally has a lighter green color compared to spinach. Additionally, baby spinach leaves are smaller and more tender, while baby arugula leaves have a similar size but a more distinct appearance with more pronounced lobes.

SpinachArugula
ColorDark greenLighter green
ShapeRounded, broad leafSlender, elongated, lobed

Texture and Leaf Structure

Spinach has a smooth, almost velvety texture. When cooked, it becomes soft and tender. Arugula, on the other hand, has a somewhat rougher texture, with more noticeable veins on its leaves. The difference in leaf structure also influences their texture when cooked: arugula tends to hold its shape better compared to spinach, which wilts and becomes soft.

Spinach contains a higher water content, which contributes to its softer, more delicate texture. Arugula, with its slightly lower water content, has a firmer, more robust texture. This difference in texture can play a role in the choice between the two when preparing certain dishes or deciding on a specific ingredient to achieve a desired sensory experience.

Storage and Shelf Life

Quick Tip - Easiest Way to Keep Spinach Fresh For Longer (Works with ANY green)

Spinach and arugula have different storage needs and shelf lives. Knowing the best practices to store them will ensure they remain fresh and nutritious.

Spinach Storage:

  • Refrigerate: Store spinach in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, keeping the temperature between 32°F (0°C) and 36°F (2°C).
  • Plastic Bag: Place spinach in a loosely sealed plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.
  • Keep Dry: Avoid washing spinach before storage, as additional moisture can hasten spoilage.

Arugula Storage:

  • Refrigerate: Like spinach, arugula should be stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • Ventilated Container: Transfer arugula to a ventilated container or plastic bag with small holes for air circulation.
  • Keep Dry: Only wash arugula when you are ready to use it, as excess moisture contributes to faster spoilage.

The shelf life for both spinach and arugula varies. Below is a table to help understand the storage timeline:

VegetableFresh & WholeFresh & ChoppedCooked
Spinach5 to 7 days2 to 3 days3 to 5 days
Arugula3 to 5 days1 to 2 days3 to 5 days

Fresh, whole spinach leaves tend to last longer than chopped spinach, while arugula generally has a shorter shelf life. Cooked spinach and arugula should be consumed within 3 to 5 days.

Incorporate these storage and shelf life guidelines to maintain the freshness and quality of spinach and arugula in your daily meal plans.

Usage in Different Cuisines

Mediterranean Dishes

In Mediterranean cuisine, both spinach and arugula find their way into various dishes, showcasing their versatility and distinct flavors. These leafy greens can be found in:

  • Salads: A classic Mediterranean salad may consist of spinach, arugula, cherry tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese.
  • Pizzas: Arugula is often used as a pizza topping after cooking, adding a fresh and peppery taste. Spinach can also be added as a topping, providing delicate, green notes.
  • Pasta dishes: Both greens can be used in pasta recipes, either lightly sauteed or tossed fresh. Arugula brings a bold, peppery flavor, while spinach offers a milder taste.
  • Pesto: Spinach can be used as an alternative to basil, creating a more delicate, while still delicious, pesto. Arugula may also be used for a tangier, bolder variation.

American Cuisine

Spinach and arugula are popular in American dishes, showcasing unique flavors and varying textures. They can be found in many familiar recipes such as:

  • Sandwiches: Both greens can be used as a complement to different ingredients in sandwiches. Spinach provides a mild, delicate taste, while arugula gives a punchy, peppery bite.
  • Omelets: When adding greens to an omelette, both spinach and arugula can provide a contrast in flavors. Spinach offers a tender, subtle taste, while arugula brings more bitterness and zest to the dish.
  • smoothies: Incorporating spinach into a smoothie provides a boost in nutrients while keeping the flavor profile fairly neutral. Arugula may impart a more potent taste, but it can be balanced with other ingredients such as fruit.

In conclusion, both spinach and arugula have their distinct flavors and textures, which lend themselves to various dishes in both Mediterranean and American cuisines. Their culinary uses are vast, and each offers a unique twist to familiar recipes.

Spinach vs Arugula + Recipe

Here's a simple recipe for sautéed spinach:
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 144 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound fresh spinach washed and trimmed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges optional

Instructions
 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add the spinach to the skillet in batches, stirring and cooking until wilted.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove from heat and serve immediately, with a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 144kcal
Keyword spinach vs arugula
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the nutritional differences between spinach and arugula?

Spinach and arugula both contain essential vitamins and minerals but have some differences in nutritional content. Spinach is a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and B2, as well as iron, calcium, and magnesium. Arugula, on the other hand, is rich in vitamins K, A, and C, but has less iron and calcium than spinach. However, arugula boasts a higher level of vitamin B9 (folate) and phytonutrients such as glucosinolates.

Can spinach be substituted by arugula in recipes, and how will it affect the taste and texture?

Both spinach and arugula can be used interchangeably in recipes; however, it is important to consider their differences in taste and texture. Spinach has a mild, earthy flavor and a soft, tender texture, making it versatile in many dishes, from salads to cooked meals. Arugula, on the other hand, is peppery and slightly bitter, giving it a distinct taste profile. Its texture is crisp and slightly tougher compared to spinach. When substituting, consider the desired flavor and texture for the dish as the result might be altered.

How do the iron contents of spinach and arugula compare?

Spinach is generally higher in iron content than arugula. A 100-gram serving of spinach contains approximately 2.7 milligrams of iron, while an equal amount of arugula provides around 1.5 milligrams. However, both leafy greens are considered good sources of plant-based iron, making them a valuable inclusion in a balanced diet.

Which has a lower oxalate content, spinach or arugula, and why does it matter?

Spinach contains high levels of oxalates, while arugula has a much lower content. Oxalates are compounds found in some plant foods that can bind to minerals like calcium and form crystals, potentially causing kidney stones in susceptible individuals. People who are prone to kidney stones or have been advised to follow a low-oxalate diet should opt for arugula over spinach as a safer option.

Are there differences in nitrate levels between spinach and arugula, and what implications does this have for health?

Spinach and arugula both contain naturally occurring nitrates, though they differ in their concentration levels. Spinach has a higher nitrate content compared to arugula. Dietary nitrates are known to contribute to cardiovascular health by promoting blood vessel dilation and lowering blood pressure. However, excessive nitrate intake may be harmful, especially for infants, as it can lead to a condition called methemoglobinemia, which affects the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. In general, moderate consumption of nitrate-rich vegetables is considered safe for most people.

In terms of overall health benefits, how do spinach and arugula differ?

Spinach and arugula both provide numerous health benefits due to their rich nutrient profiles. However, their differences in nutritional content give them unique advantages. Spinach’s higher iron and calcium content make it beneficial for promoting healthy blood and strong bones, while arugula’s higher levels of folate and glucosinolates contribute to DNA synthesis and may offer protection against certain types of cancer. Additionally, both leafy greens are low in calories and high in fiber, making them excellent choices for promoting weight management and digestive health.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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