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Is kale better than wheatgrass?

Kale and wheatgrass are two of the most popular superfood greens. Both are packed with nutrients and have been associated with a variety of health benefits. But is one better than the other? In this in-depth comparison, we’ll examine the nutritional profiles, potential benefits, downsides, and overall value of kale versus wheatgrass.

Introduction

Kale and wheatgrass are both leafy greens that have gained superfood status in recent years. However, there are some key differences between these two nutritional powerhouses.

Kale is a dark, leafy green that belongs to the brassica family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. It has ruffled leaves and a tough, fibrous stalk. There are many different varieties of kale, including curly kale, dinosaur kale, and red Russian kale.

Wheatgrass, on the other hand, is the young grass shoots of the wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It has a bright green color and soft, smooth blades. It is commonly juiced or powdered for consumption.

Both kale and wheatgrass are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. However, their nutritional profiles do differ in some important ways. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the nutrition facts, benefits, and downsides of kale versus wheatgrass.

Nutrition Facts

Let’s start by examining the nutrition facts of kale versus wheatgrass. The table below shows the nutrient profiles of 1 cup (67g) of raw, chopped kale and 1 ounce (28g) of wheatgrass juice.

Nutrient Kale Wheatgrass
Calories 33 20
Protein 2.47g 2g
Carbs 6.71g 2g
Fiber 2.6g 1g
Vitamin A 10302IU (206% DV) 15mcg (3% DV)
Vitamin C 134mg (223% DV) 6mg (10% DV)
Vitamin K 1030mcg (1287% DV) 0.5mcg (1% DV)
Calcium 150mg (15% DV) 24mg (2% DV)
Iron 1.47mg (8% DV) 0.32mg (2% DV)
Potassium 296mg (9% DV) 120mg (3% DV)

As you can see, kale is significantly higher in vitamins A, C, and K. It also provides more fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium than wheatgrass. The only nutrient that wheatgrass contains more of is vitamin E.

One ounce of wheatgrass juice also provides only 20 calories, while 1 cup of kale provides 33 calories. So wheatgrass has a slight edge when it comes to low calorie content.

Overall, kale wins when it comes to density of nutrients based on typical serving sizes. But keep in mind that you can consume larger amounts of wheatgrass juice than kale in one sitting. So if you drink several ounces of wheatgrass juice, the nutrient differences become less significant.

Potential Health Benefits

Both kale and wheatgrass have been associated with a long list of health benefits. Here’s an overview of some of the top benefits of each green:

Kale Benefits

  • High in antioxidants like quercetin, kaempferol and vitamin C
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • May lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Rich in vision-protecting carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin
  • May protect against certain cancers like colon, prostate and breast cancer
  • Excellent source of vitamin K which supports bone and heart health

Wheatgrass Benefits

  • High in chlorophyll, which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • May help remove heavy metals and toxins from the body
  • Contains enzymes that aid digestion
  • May boost immunity by stimulating production of T cells
  • Rich in amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants
  • May help balance blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes risk

There is some overlap between the benefits of kale and wheatgrass. Both offer anti-inflammatory effects, aid detoxification, provide antioxidants, and support heart health.

Some studies suggest wheatgrass may have an edge when it comes to cancer prevention, immune-boosting, and blood sugar control. Kale, on the other hand, appears more beneficial for cardiovascular health and eye health.

Overall, both greens can positively impact health in many ways. Combining them can provide complementary effects for optimal wellness.

Potential Downsides

Kale and wheatgrass also come with some potential downsides to keep in mind:

Kale Downsides

  • Contains oxalates which can contribute to kidney stone formation in some people
  • Has goitrogens which may disrupt thyroid function if consumed in excess
  • Higher risk of contamination with bacteria like E. coli compared to wheatgrass
  • Tough texture when raw; can cause digestive upset if not properly chewed

Wheatgrass Downsides

  • Considered a common food allergen – may cause reactions in those with wheat/grass allergies
  • Can cause nausea, headaches, and dizziness when consumed in excess
  • Has a bitter, harsh taste that some find unpalatable
  • Requires caution for those taking blood thinners due to vitamin K content
  • Often expensive and difficult to find fresh

People who are sensitive to oxalates or have kidney issues may tolerate kale better than wheatgrass. For those with histamine intolerance or grass allergies, kale may also be the safer choice.

On the other hand, people who dislike the taste of kale or have digestive sensitivities may do better with wheatgrass juice. Those taking blood thinners should be mindful of wheatgrass’ vitamin K content.

Overall, both greens come with some potential drawbacks to keep in mind. Paying attention to individual tolerances and sensitivities can help determine which one is better suited to your needs.

Cost Comparison

Affordability is another factor that may sway you towards one green over the other. Here is an overview of the typical costs of kale versus wheatgrass:

Kale Cost

  • Bunch of fresh kale: $1.50 – $3
  • Bag of fresh chopped kale: $3 – $7
  • Bag of frozen chopped kale: $2 – $5

Wheatgrass Cost

  • Shot of fresh wheatgrass juice: $2 – $5
  • Ounce of fresh wheatgrass juice: $1 – $3
  • Tray of wheatgrass shots: $10 – $20
  • Powdered wheatgrass: $15 – $30 per 3-4oz

Fresh and frozen kale is one of the most budget-friendly greens you can buy. It provides an affordable way to get a nutrient-dense food regularly.

Wheatgrass is typically pricier, especially if you are getting freshly juiced shots at juice bars and cafes. However, growing your own wheatgrass at home or buying powdered wheatgrass can lower the cost.

Based solely on price considerations, kale generally wins out as the more cost-effective option for most people.

Ease of Use

Convenience is one final factor that may make one of these greens a better choice for your lifestyle.

Kale

  • Widely available at grocery stores
  • Can be eaten raw in salads, smoothies, etc.
  • Easy to cook by sautéing, steaming, or adding to soups
  • Stores well in fridge for 5-7 days

Wheatgrass

  • Harder to find fresh; primarily sold as juice shots
  • Requires juicer or blender to process into juice
  • Very perishable and lasts only 1-2 days in fridge
  • Growing wheatgrass at home takes 10-14 days

For most people, kale will be the more convenient option between the two. Kale is widely available, has a longer shelf life, and can be eaten raw or cooked quickly.

Wheatgrass is more difficult to source fresh and goes bad very quickly unless juiced or frozen. It also requires special equipment to process at home.

If ease of use is a priority, kale generally makes it easier to add greens to your diet on a regular basis.

Conclusion

So is kale better than wheatgrass when all factors are considered? Here’s a quick summary:

  • Kale is richer in vitamins, minerals, and fiber compared to wheatgrass based on typical serving sizes.
  • Both greens offer overlapping and complementary health benefits, with kale stronger for heart health and wheatgrass better for immunity and blood sugar control.
  • Kale is generally cheaper and easier to find than wheatgrass.
  • People with kidney issues or thyroid problems may tolerate kale better.
  • Those with grass allergies or who dislike kale’s texture may do better with wheatgrass.

In the end, incorporating both kale and wheatgrass into your diet provides the best way to take advantage of their diverse nutrients and health benefits. But if you had to choose just one, kale wins out for most people due to its stellar nutrition, affordability, availability, and ease of use. Try adding kale into your diet regularly in smoothies, salads, soups, and sides for an easy and delicious way to boost your nutrient intake.