Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Adding a variety of greens to your diet may help boost brain health and lower your risk of some diseases.

Leafy green vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. They’re packed with micronutrients and flavor, and they’re low in calories.

Eating a diet rich in leafy greens can offer numerous health benefits, such as reducing your risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mental decline.

Here are 13 of the healthiest leafy green vegetables to include in your diet.

1. Kale

Kale is a nutrient-dense vegetable packed with many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

For example, 1 cup (21 grams (g)) of raw kale packs:

It also contains antioxidants like lutein and beta-carotene, which may reduce the risk of diseases caused by oxidative stress.

Kale can be consumed in many different ways, such as eaten raw, cooked, or blended in a smoothie.

A 2019 study found that steaming kale preserved most of its nutrients out of all the cooking methods in the study. These included boiling, pressure cooking, microwaving, and vacuum sealing.

2. Microgreens

Microgreens are nutrient-dense, immature greens produced from the seeds of vegetables and herbs. They typically measure 1–3 inches (2.5–7.5 centimeters).

Since the 1980s, they have often been used as a garnish or decoration, but they have many more uses.

Microgreens are rich in micronutrients like vitamins C, E, and K.

They’re also packed with biological phytochemicals that could play a big role in improving general health and preventing diseases. These may include ascorbic acid, β-carotene, and phenolic antioxidants, among others.

Microgreens can be grown in the comfort of your own home all year round, making them easily available.

3. Collard greens

Collard greens are loose, leafy greens. Their name comes from the word “colewort“, which includes it in the same family as kale, cabbage, and spring greens. They have thick leaves that taste slightly bitter.

Collard greens are a good source of:

  • calcium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B9 (folate)
  • vitamin C

They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin K when it comes to leafy greens. One cup (36 g) of raw collard greens packs 131% of the DV for vitamin K.

Vitamin K is known for its role in blood clotting and improving bone health.

4. Spinach

Spinach is a popular leafy green vegetable and can easily be incorporated into a variety of dishes, including soups, sauces, smoothies, and salads.

One cup (30 g) of raw spinach provides:

  • 121% of the DV for vitamin K
  • 16% of the DV for vitamin A
  • 12% of the DV for manganese

It’s also packed with folate, which plays a key role in red blood cell production. It may also help prevent neural tube defects in pregnancy, such as spina bifida.

5. Cabbage

Cabbage is formed of clusters of thick leaves that come in green, white, and purple colors.

It belongs to the Brassica family, along with Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli.

Vegetables in this plant family contain glucosinolates, which give them a bitter flavor.

Research suggests that foods with these plant compounds may have cancer-protective properties.

Another benefit of cabbage is that it can be fermented and turned into sauerkraut. This food provides numerous health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving your digestion, and supporting your immune system.

6. Beet greens

Beets are colorful, vibrant vegetables that have an impressive nutrient profile. Although beets are commonly used in dishes, the leaves are often ignored.

Beet greens are edible and rich in nutrients. One cup (38 g) of raw beet greens contains:

  • 127% of the DV for vitamin K
  • 13% of the DV for vitamin A
  • 12% of the DV for vitamin C

They also contain the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein. These may help reduce the risk of eye disorders, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Beet greens can be added raw to salads and soups, or sauteed and eaten as a side dish.

7. Watercress

Watercress is an aquatic plant from the Brassicaceae family. It’s similar to arugula and mustard greens.

It’s said to have healing properties and has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. However, no human studies have confirmed these benefits so far.

One cup (34 g) of raw watercress provides:

  • 17% of the DV for vitamin C
  • 6% of the DV for vitamin A
  • 71% of the DV for vitamin K

Due to its bitter and slightly spicy flavor, watercress makes a great addition to neutrally flavored foods.

8. Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce is a common leafy vegetable with sturdy, dark leaves with a firm center rib. It has a crunchy texture and is a popular lettuce, particularly in Caesar salads.

It’s a good source of vitamins A and K, with 1 cup (47 g) providing 23% and 40% of the DVs for these vitamins, respectively.

What’s more, a 2021 study in 16 healthy young males found that adding lettuce or watercress to a meal significantly lowered blood sugar and insulin levels following the meal.

9. Swiss chard

Swiss chard has dark green leaves with a thick stalk that is red, white, yellow, or green. It’s often used in Mediterranean cooking and belongs to the same family as beets and spinach.

It has an earthy taste and is rich in minerals and vitamins, such as magnesium and vitamins A, C, and K.

Swiss chard also contains a flavonoid called syringic acid, which may be beneficial for lowering blood sugar levels.

While many people typically throw away the stems of the Swiss chard plant, they’re crunchy and highly nutritious.

Next time, try adding all parts of the Swiss chard plant to dishes such as soups, tacos, or casseroles.

10. Arugula

Arugula is a leafy green from the Brassicaceae family. It goes by many different names, such as rocket, colewort, roquette, rucola, and rucoli.

Arugula has a peppery taste and small leaves that can easily be incorporated into salads or used as a garnish.

Arugula is packed with nutrients. One cup of raw arugula (20 g) provides:

  • 5% of the DV for folate
  • 3% of the DV for vitamin A
  • 3% of the DV for vitamin C
  • 18% of the DV for vitamin K

Like other leafy greens, arugula is a great source of dietary nitrates, which turn into nitric oxide in your body.

The benefits of nitrates are debated. However, some studies found that they may help increase blood flow and reduce your blood pressure.

11. Endive

Endive (pronounced “N-dive”) belongs to the Asteraceae family. It’s less well known than other leafy greens, possibly because it’s difficult to grow.

Endive is curly and crisp in texture. It has a nutty and mildly bitter flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked.

One cup (50 g) of raw endive leaves packs:

  • 97% of the DV for vitamin K
  • 6% of the DV for vitamin A
  • 18% of the DV for folate

Like other leafy greens, endive is good a source of kaempferol. This antioxidant has been shown to reduce inflammation and inhibit the growth of cancer cells in test-tube studies.

12. Bok choy

Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage.

This leafy green is packed with micronutrients. One cup (70g) of raw Bok choy contains:

  • 36% of the DV for vitamin C
  • 12% of the DV for folate
  • 17% of the DV for vitamin A
  • 27% of the DV for vitamin K

Boy choy has thick, dark green leaves that make a great addition to soups and stir-fries.

13. Turnip greens

Turnip greens are the leaves of the turnip plant, which is a root vegetable similar to beetroot.

These greens pack more nutrients than the turnip itself. One cup (55 g) of raw turnip greens includes:

  • 8% of the DV for calcium
  • 33% of the DV for vitamin C
  • 27% of the DV for folate
  • 35% of the DV for vitamin A
  • 11% of the DV for vitamin E
  • 115% of the DV for vitamin K

They have a strong and spicy flavor and are often enjoyed cooked rather than raw.

Turnip greens are considered a cruciferous vegetable. These have been shown to decrease your risk of health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.

Turnip greens also contain several important phytochemicals that may play a role in reducing stress in your body. These include:

  • glucosinolates
  • isothiocyanate
  • phenolic compounds
  • flavonoids
  • organic acids

Turnip greens can be used as a replacement for kale or spinach in most recipes.

What are examples of leafy greens?

Some examples of leafy greens include kale, spinach, arugula, and endive, as well as greens from beets, collards, and turnips.

Which leafy green is the healthiest?

There isn’t a single, healthiest leafy green, but leafy greens may be richer in some nutrients than others. For example, arugula contains almost six times more of the antioxidant kaempferol than endive. On the other hand, 1 cup (50 g) of raw endive leaves packs 97% of the DV for vitamin K compared to 1 cup (20 g) of arugula, which packs 18%.

What are the 5 green leafy vegetables?

Some leafy green vegetables include Bok choy, Swiss chard, microgreens, kale, and spinach, among others.


Leafy green vegetables are packed with important and powerful nutrients that are critical for good health.

Fortunately, many leafy greens can be found year-round, and they can easily be incorporated into your meals.

To reap the many health benefits of leafy greens, make sure to include a variety of these vegetables in your diet.