Spinach vs Romaine: Which is Better? An Ultimate Comparison


Part of my job as a Certified Health Coach is to inform people about healthy foods like spinach and romaine lettuce. Many of my clients ask me if one is superior to the other. Let’s answer which is better, spinach or romaine?

Spinach is better than romaine due to its higher percentage of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. Spinach provides 600% more vitamin C, 200% more calcium and 477% more iron than romaine. Spinach is easier to find in stores and costs less per ounce making it slightly more affordable.

This article will start with a side-by-side nutrient comparison of the two leafy greens. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, prices, glycemic indexes, health benefits and whether one can substitute for the other.

Spinach vs Romaine: A Nutrient Comparison

The following table compares the nutrients contained in raw spinach and romaine per 100 grams.

  Spinach, raw (100 g) Romaine, raw (100 g)
Calories 23 17
Protein 2.86 g 1.23 g
Carbohydrates 3.63 g 3.29 g
Fiber 2.2 g 2.1 g
Fat 0.39 g 0.30 g
Sugar 0.42 g 1.19 g
Vitamin A 9,380 IU 8,710 IU
Beta-carotene 5,630 mcg 5,230 mcg
Vitamin C 28.1 mg 4.0 mg
Vitamin K 483 mcg 102 mcg
Vitamin D 0 IU 0 IU
Vitamin B6 0.19 mg 0.07 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 194 mcg  136 mcg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.08 mg  0.07 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.19 mg  0.07 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.72 mg  0.31 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 0.07 mg  0.14 mg
Magnesium 79 mg  14 mg
Phosphorous 49 mg  30 mg
Potassium 558 mg 247 mg
Iron 2.71 mg 0.97 mg
Copper 0.13 mg  0.05 mg
Calcium 99 mg 33 mg
Zinc 0.53 mg  0.23 mg

Nutrient Resources 1 2

Spinach and romaine contain many of the same nutrients. After examining the table above let’s determine which is healthier, spinach or romaine.

Spinach is healthier than romaine because it provides more protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B6, folate, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, calcium and zinc.

Romaine provides more B5 and fewer calories, carbohydrates and total fat than spinach.

Find out how these nutrients benefit health further down in this article.

Spinach or Romaine: Which to Choose

Based on the nutrients just discussed, one of the two foods may be more beneficial for your particular goal. Let’s take a look at the more popular goals and which food is better for them.

Weight Loss

If weight loss is the goal, the number of calories per serving is important. Let’s examine how many calories per serving spinach and romaine contains.

Spinach has 23 calories, and romaine has 17 calories per 100 grams. Romaine provides 6 fewer calories than spinach. While this number may not seem like much, it equals 35% less calories making romaine better for weight loss.

When counting calories every little bit may help as the total is calculated for the day.

Low-carb or Keto Diets

If you’re currently consuming low-carb foods or considering one of these diets, the number of carbohydrates may make a huge difference. Therefore, let’s examine if spinach or romaine has more carbohydrates.

Spinach has 3.63 grams of carbohydrates, and romaine has 3.29 per 100 grams. Romaine provides 0.34 grams fewer than spinach. That’s 10% fewer carbohydrates per 100 grams making romaine better for low-carb diets.

The difference isn’t large but when limiting the total amount, every gram can make a difference at the end of the day. 

Gluten Free

For people who have celiac disease, whether one food contains gluten will automatically make the decision which to choose. Some people prefer following a gluten free diet, therefore it’s important also. 

Spinach and romaine are gluten free. Therefore, both foods are good options for a gluten free diet.

Bodybuilding

If gaining lean muscle mass is your goal then the amount of protein and carbohydrates may matter to you.

Healthy carbohydrates help to increase performance and fuel energy when exercising or lifting weights. It’s why marathon runners consume many carbs the day and night before the big race.

Any extra protein helps to build and repair muscle after putting them through a good workout. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at which is better for bodybuilding, spinach or romaine.

Spinach is better than romaine for bodybuilding due to its higher percentage of protein and carbohydrates. Spinach provides 2.86 grams of protein and romaine 1.23 grams per 100 grams. Spinach provides 133% more protein per 100 grams. 

In addition, spinach provides 10% more carbohydrates and 35% more calories which may help when trying to bulk up. 

spinach and romaine nutrient comparison

Spinach and Romaine: Tastes and Textures

Some foods taste undesirably to some people. In this situation, no matter how many nutrients the food has, that food may remain on the store shelf instead of in the shopping cart.

Therefore, let’s take a close look at how the taste and texture of spinach and romaine compare.

Romaine has a refreshing, juicy taste and is a little bitter like spinach. Raw spinach is drier and tastes grassier than romaine. Romaine is crispier than raw spinach which is softer raw or cooked.

I wanted to get the opinion of real people like you by conducting some original research. So I reached out to some of my clients, readers and members of food groups and asked, what tastes better, spinach or romaine?

  • 34% said they preferred the taste of spinach.
  • 58% said they preferred the taste of romaine.
  • 8% said it depended on their mood.

In the battle of taste, romaine was the winner over spinach. Many people also stated, if health or nutrients were the priority, they would choose spinach first even though they preferred the taste of romaine.

Substitutions

Sometimes you may only have one available at home and don’t want to run out to the store. In this situation or any other time when you may want to substitute, you’ll wonder if spinach and romaine can substitute for each other.

Spinach and romaine can substitute for each in raw or cooked dishes. They can also substitute for one another in gluten free recipes. When substituting, use a one to one ratio. When cooking, romaine will shrink in volume similar to spinach.

Other substitutes for spinach or romaine include the following:

  • Swiss chard
  • Bok choy
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Butterhead lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Collard greens
  • Iceberg
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Beet greens

Popular preparations for spinach and romaine include:

  • Salads
  • Wraps
  • Sandwiches
  • Smoothies
  • Juices
  • Steaming
  • Sauteeing
  • Blanching
  • Boiling

Spinach vs Romaine: Which Cost More?

The price of foods commonly purchased is important to most people, especially with the inflation we’re experiencing lately. Let’s take a detailed look at how much spinach and romaine cost.

Romaine costs more than spinach. The average price for romaine is $0.22 per ounce. The average price for spinach is $0.18 per ounce.

To conduct some original research, I visited some local supermarkets and compared the prices of romaine and spinach. Here are my findings.

First I checked Walmart:

  • Marketside bagged fresh spinach
    • 10 ounce bag $1.98. Equals $0.20 per ounce
  • Marketside bagged leafy romaine lettuce
    • 10 ounce bag $2.78. Equals $0.28 per ounce

I then checked my local Shoprite supermarket:

  • Fresh spinach bundle
    • 12 ounces for $1.87. Equals $0.16 per ounce
  • Romaine lettuce bundle
    • 20 ounces for $3.11. Equals $0.16 per ounce

spinach and romaine comparison

Spinach vs Romaine: Glycemic Index

Blood sugar spikes may lead to health complications over time 3. For this reason, avoiding blood sugar spikes as often as possible is an important part of a healthy diet.

The glycemic index measures how fast food raises blood sugar levels 4Foods 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 food has a higher glycemic index.

Spinach and romaine have low glycemic indexes and are considered low glycemic index foods. Therefore, either food is a good choice to avoid blood sugar spikes.

Find out if collard greens are better in my article, Collard Greens vs Spinach: Which is Better? A Comparison.

Spinach and Romaine Health Benefits 

This section will examine the health benefits of the nutrients provided by both foods. Each section includes the benefits of each nutrient and a breakdown of the numbers and percentages provided by each food.

Spinach Health Benefits

Vitamin C

  • Raw spinach contains 28.1 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams.
  • Raw romaine contains 4.0 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams.

Spinach provides 600% more vitamin C than romaine per 100 grams.

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps with the following:

  • Prevent cell damage.
  • May help boost the immune system.
  • Collagen production.
  • Help heal wounds.
  • Increases iron absorption.
  • Help maintain health gums.

Magnesium

  • Raw spinach contains 79 mg of magnesium per 100 grams.
  • Raw romaine contains 14 mg of magnesium per 100 grams.

Spinach provides 460% more magnesium than romaine per 100 grams.

Magnesium helps the body control the following:

  • Nerve function
  • Blood pressure
  • Muscle function
  • Insomnia
  • Blood sugar

Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 5.

Many people supplement with magnesium in the evening because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.

Find out if spinach or Swiss chard have more nutrients in my article, Spinach vs Swiss Chard: Which is Better? Complete Comparison.

romaine lettuce in the supermarket
Picking romaine lettuce in the supermarket

Potassium

  • Raw spinach contains 558 mg of potassium per 100 grams.
  • Raw romaine contains 247 mg of potassium per 100 grams.

Spinach provides 126% more potassium than romaine per 100 grams.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 6. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.

Calcium

  • Raw spinach contains 99 mg of calcium per 100 grams.
  • Raw romaine contains 47 mg of calcium per 100 grams.

Spinach provides 110% more calcium than romaine per 100 grams.

Calcium helps the following:

  • Helps nerve function.
  • Help the muscles to function properly.
  • Build and maintain strong bones.

In addition, calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 7.

Vitamin K

  • Raw spinach contains 483 mcg of vitamin K per 100 grams.
  • Raw romaine contains 102 mcg of vitamin K per 100 grams.

Spinach provides 374% more vitamin K than romaine per 100 grams.

Vitamin K comes in two forms. Phylloquinone is the one found in spinach and romaine.

Vitamin K helps to make various proteins needed to help with the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Blood clotting
  • Bone health

Vitamin K, through the production of proteins, help to prevent hardening or calcification of the arteries 8.

Iron

  • Raw spinach contains 2.71 mg of iron per 100 grams.
  • Raw romaine contains 0.47 mg of iron per 100 grams.

Spinach provides 477% more iron than romaine per 100 grams.

Iron is a necessary part of any healthy diet 9 and may help with the following:

  • Vital for development and growth.
  • Is essential the creation of red blood cells.
  • Help some hormones remain balanced.
  • Help the immune system.

Find out if kale or spinach had more nutrients in my article, Kale vs Spinach: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.

Romaine and Spinach Benefits 

B Vitamins

Spinach provides a higher percentage of B6, folate, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin. Romaine provides a higher percentage of B5 but also contains the other B vitamins.

The B vitamins provided include the following:

  1. B1 (thiamin) 
  2. B2 (riboflavin) 
  3. B3 (niacin) 
  4. B5 
  5. B6 
  6. B9 (folate) 

B vitamins help support the following:

  • Brain function.
  • Digestion.
  • Nerve function.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Red blood cells.
  • Energy levels.

Vitamin A & Beta Carotene

Spinach provides more of both but romaine provides a good amount also.

  • Raw spinach contains 9,380 IU of vitamin A per 100 grams.
  • Raw romaine contains 8,710 IU of vitamin A per 100 grams.

Spinach provides 7.7% more vitamin A than romaine per 100 grams.

  • Raw spinach contains 5,630 mcg of beta carotene per 100 grams.
  • Raw romaine contains 5,230 mcg of beta carotene per 100 grams.

Spinach provides 7.6% more beta carotene than romaine per 100 grams.

Beta-carotene is a compound present in romaine and spinach. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A.

According to scientific studies, vitamin A helps the eyes when it comes to dim light vision and dry eyes 10.

Besides eye health, an increased number of vitamin A has been shown to fight and prevent cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States 11.

In addition, vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce cellular damage by controlling the negative effects of free radicals 12.

Compare the benefits of baby spinach and mature spinach in my article, Baby Spinach vs Spinach: Which is Better? A Comparison.

Additional article resources 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 2222 23 24 25

Read More Spinach Food vs Food Articles

Spinach vs Broccoli: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison

Frozen Spinach vs Fresh: Which is Better? A Comparison

Raw Spinach vs Cooked Spinach: Which is Better? A Comparison

Arugula vs Spinach: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison

Organic Spinach vs. Regular Spinach: What’s The Difference?

Spinach vs Lettuce: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. USDA: Spinach, raw[]
  2. USDA: Lettuce, cos or romaine, raw[]
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes[]
  4. Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  6. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  7. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  8. Harvard T.H. Chan: Vitamin K[]
  9. National Institutes of Health: Iron[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Nutrients for the aging eye[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Antioxidant potentials of vitamin A and carotenoids and their relevance to heart disease[]
  12. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health[]
  13. The University of Sydney: Your GI Shopping Guide[]
  14. Google Books: Vegetables[]
  15. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mutations in Lettuce Improvement[]
  16. USDA: cos or romaine, raw[]
  17. Wikipedia: Lettuce[]
  18. Harvard Health Publishing: Vegetable of the month: Leafy greens[]
  19. Harvard Health Publishing: Salad greens: Getting the most bang for the bite[]
  20. USDA: Spinach, baby[]
  21. Harvard Health Publishing: Chopped, uncooked spinach offers more antioxidants[]
  22. Harvard T.H. Chan: Fresh Spinach with Sesame Seeds[][]
  23. Wisconsin Horticulture: Spinach, Spinach oleracea[]
  24. University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: What to do with Spinach?[]
  25. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of Spinach, a High Dietary Nitrate Source, on Arterial Stiffness and Related Hemodynamic Measures: A Randomized, Controlled Trial in Healthy Adults[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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