Basil vs Spinach: A Complete Comparison Including Nutrients

As a Certified Health Coach, many people ask me about food comparisons including basil and spinach. Let’s take a close look at each one and their differences.

Spinach has a milder, earthier taste than the aromatic basil which has a hint of sweetness. Both can substitute for each other although the taste will differ. Basil costs more money per bunch. Spinach has more fiber and vitamins A and C. Basil has more calcium, iron and phosphorous.

This article will examine each one in more detail including their glycemic indexes, prices and the results of a taste poll I conducted.

Nutritional Profiles and Health Benefits

Spinach on the left and basil on the right.
Spinach on the left and basil on the right

My clients ask me about spinach and other related topics like basil. I purchase and consume both foods. For these reasons, I have researched this topic for years. Let’s move on to the comparison starting with nutrients..

Basil and spinach offer unique nutritional benefits and flavors, making them desirable for a healthy diet. This section breaks down their nutritional profiles and explores their health benefits.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

 Spinach, raw (100 g)Basil, raw (100 g)
Protein2.86 g3.15 g
Carbohydrates3.63 g2.65 g
Fiber2.2 g1.6 g
Fat0.39 g0.64 g
Sugar0.42 g0.30 g
Vitamin A9,380 IU5,280 IU
Beta-carotene5,630 mcg3,140 mcg
Vitamin C28.1 mg18.0 mg
Vitamin K483 mcg415 mcg
Vitamin D0 IU0 IU
Vitamin B60.19 mg0.15 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)194 mcg68 mcg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0.08 mg0.03 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.19 mg0.07 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)0.72 mg0.90 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)0.07 mg0.21 mg
Magnesium79 mg 64 mg
Phosphorous49 mg 56 mg
Potassium558 mg295 mg
Iron2.71 mg3.17 mg
Copper0.13 mg0.38 mg
Calcium99 mg177 mg
Zinc0.53 mg0.81 mg
Spinach and basil nutrient comparison.

Nutrient Resources 1 2

Vitamins and Minerals

  • Vitamin A: Spinach contains more vitamin A, beneficial for eye health and the immune system.
  • Vitamin C: Spinach provides more vitamin C, which is important for skin health and the immune system.
  • Vitamin K: Both herbs are good sources of vitamin K, necessary for blood clotting and bone health. Spinach contains a little more.
  • Calcium: Basil has more calcium than spinach, crucial for bones and teeth.
  • Iron: Basil also boasts a higher iron content, aiding in oxygen transport in the blood.
  • Magnesium: Spinach provides more magnesium, known for supporting muscular and nerve functions.
  • Phosphorus: Basil is richer in phosphorus, important for kidney function and creating DNA.
  • Potassium: Spinach contains higher levels of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.

Macronutrients and Calories

Spinach and basil are similar in calorie content but vary in macronutrient distribution. Basil has slightly more protein and fats, whereas spinach contains a higher amount of fiber. The fats provided are mainly unsaturated and beneficial to heart health.

Glycemic Indexes

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 3.

Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:

  • Low-GI foods: 55 or under
  • Medium-GI foods: 56-69
  • High-GI foods: 70 or over

How blood sugars levels are affected:

  • Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.

Let’s examine which leafy green has a higher glycemic index.

Basil and spinach have low glycemic indexes and are considered low GI foods. Either food is a good choice avoiding many blood sugar spikes.

Taste and Texture Comparison

Let’s take a close look at their taste and textures.

The flavor of basil is aromatic with a hint of sweetness, while spinach has a milder, slightly earthy taste. Basil has a soft, smooth texture, and spinach is known for its slightly crisper consistency.

I wanted to conduct original research and get the opinion of real people like you. So I reached out to some of my clients, readers and members of food groups and asked, which of the two taste better,?

  • 38% said they preferred the taste of spinach.
  • 36% said they preferred the taste of basil.
  • 26% said it depended on the dish or food prepared.

To conduct more original research, I setup a blind taste test at home which consisted of three other people and me. We added both to a dish. They were chopped up into similar leaves size to avoid simple detection. Two out of four chose the spinach for its better taste.

In the battle of taste, spinach had a slight win in my poll and both were even at home.

tasting organic spinach and regular spinach
Tasting organic spinach

Cooking and Preparation Techniques

Basil and spinach can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. They are both commonly chopped with a knife or in a food processor. Spinach can be steamed or sautéed, while basil is often torn to preserve flavor when finishing dishes.

Substitution Options

When substituting fresh herbs:

  • For spinach: Opt for kale, arugula, basil or even Swiss chard.
  • For basil: Try using oregano, arugula, or spinach basil pesto.

Even though the two can substitute for each other, both will produce a different flavor profile. Use equal amounts when substituting.

cooking spinach
Cooking spinach

Food Pairings and Combinations

Spinach and basil pair well with ingredients like olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, walnuts, and cheeses like parmesan and mozzarella. They are staples in dishes such as pasta, pizza, and sandwiches.

Basil is the key component of pesto, while spinach can be used to create a nutritious spinach pesto variant.


Kevin Garce checking the prices of spinach and basil at his local supermarket.
Checking the prices of spinach and basil at my local supermarket

The price of food matters to must of us. Therefore, how much each one will dent your pocket is important.

The price for fresh basil costs more than spinach. The average price for fresh spinach $2.56 per pound. The average price for fresh basil is $2.99 per 2.5 ounces.

To conduct my own original research, I visited my local supermarket and compared the prices. Basil is typically sold in smaller amounts. I compared a bunch of each green.

Here are my findings.

I checked the ShopRite Supermarket:

  • Spinach
    • 12 ounce spinach bunch was $1.87. Equals $2.56 per pound.
  • Basil
    • $2.99 per bunch of 2.5 ounces. Equals $19.00 per pound.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article, don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read More Spinach Articles

Kale vs Spinach: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison

Cabbage vs Spinach

Spinach Juice Benefits

Article Resources

  1. USDA: Spinach, raw[]
  2. USDA: Basil, raw[]
  3. Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[]

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