Kale has recently become the golden child of health foods. It seems as if it's impossible these days to go anywhere without finding a kale salad or smoothie on the menu. You can’t blame everyone for being so kale crazy though, when the cruciferous vegetable is so abundant with beneficial vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
No matter how healthy kale is, it can be tiresome to consume the same green, day after day. Luckily, there are plenty of other leafy greens that contain similar health benefits. If you’re looking to spice up your salads or switch up your typical dinner, try one of the following greens as a nutritious replacement for kale. We've even included some recipes to help you prepare them.
Like kale, swiss chard is full of antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, and fiber. It helps promote good eye health as well as cardiovascular health, and its fiber content can help lower cholesterol. Its taste is slightly bitter and salty, and it can be prepared simply by sautéing it in olive oil and garlic.
Collard greens are high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, and fiber, and they possess little to no calories. Studies show that collard greens are better than kale at fighting cholesterol, making them an extremely heart-healthy green. Collard leaves are very sturdy and resilient, so they can be used as a great substitute for tortillas when making wraps. They also taste delicious steamed or sautéed.
Typically a staple in Southern cuisine, mustard greens come from the leaves of the mustard plant. They are abundant in antioxidants, including vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and they are a great source of fiber. As an anti-inflammatory and detoxifier, mustard greens can help fight against cancer. Like kale and other cruciferous greens, bitter mustard greens taste best steamed or sautéed.
Recipe: Spicy Mustard Green Egg Scramble
Like kale and other greens, dandelion greens contain an assortment of vitamins, boosting your immune system, contributing to healthy bone health, and promoting good eyesight. They are low in calories and contain a bitter, peppery flavor that once cooked becomes more mild. Dandelion greens taste great in salads, sautéed with other vegetables, or even as a pesto.
Recipe: Dandelion Greens Pesto
Despite its name, broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is actually more closely related to turnips than to broccoli. Its buds resemble its namesake, but it is the leaves of the plant that are used in cooking, especially in Italian cuisine. Broccoli rabe is a great cancer fighter, and it provides a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and fiber. Broccoli rabe can be sautéed and prepared with sweeter, starchier dishes such as pasta or white beans.
Recipe: Pasta and Broccoli Rabe
Turnip greens are a vegetable that contain one of the highest amounts of calcium. This cruciferous green is low in calories, contains a huge amount of vitamin K along with vitamin A and vitamin C, and is a great food to help prevent against cancer. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can help promote good cardiovascular health. Turnip greens can be bitter, so they are best prepared cooked alongside other flavorful foods.
If you’ve ever bought raw beets from the grocery store, you may have noticed some dark green leaves growing from the top. These are beet greens, and they are more than just edible — they are super nutritious. They are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, among many other nutrients. Beet greens are also known for their high iron source. They taste best sauteéd or boiled, so next time you buy beets, be sure not to toss their nutritious leafy counterparts.