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Broccoli vs. Kale

A collage of broccoli and kale on bowl.

Broccoli and kale are both super-nutritious green veggies. You’re likely to find one zhooshed up at trendy restaurants (we’re looking at you, kale!) and the other spat out by toddlers (sorry, broccoli), but the two veggies are equally popular on the health scene.

Though, if we had to choose only one to fill our bellies and give us a healthy glow, which would be the better bet – broccoli or kale?

Broccoli and kale might look and taste different, but they’re more similar than you might realize. If we consider what makes these veggies the same and sets them apart, does one outshine the other? Find out whether broccoli or kale gives you more bang for your bite.

Broccoli vs. Kale: How Do They Compare?

Here’s how broccoli and kale measure up against each other in taste, preparation methods, nutrition, health benefits, and risks.

Broccoli And Kale Are From The Same Family

Broccoli plant at the garden.

Kale and broccoli both belong to the cabbage family,  Brassica oleracea. More of their veggie relatives are Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and collard greens.

Kale and broccoli are forms of the wild cabbage plant. Farmers cultivated this plant to create the veggies we know today.

Broccoli

Broccoli is the plant’s flower.

Kale

Kale is the leafy part of the plant.

There Are Different Types Of Broccoli And Kale

You’ll find three main varieties of both broccoli and kale.

Broccoli

The broccoli you see at your standard grocery store is Calabrese broccoli. Other common varieties are sprouting broccoli and purple cauliflower (a type of broccoli despite its misleading name).

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Kale

The types of kale you’re most likely to find are curly, dinosaur (you might know it as black), and redbor kale.

Broccoli And Kale Look Different

Kale plant at the garden.

Broccoli and kale are totally different veggies when it comes to their appearance. Kale is leafy, and broccoli is flower-like.

Broccoli

This is what the most common broccoli varieties look like:

  • Calabrese broccoli resembles a mini tree with a green head and thick stem.
  • Sprouting broccoli is white or purple with lots of heads and thin stems.
  • Purple cauliflower can be purple, white, red, green, or other colors (another thing that makes its name confusing!) with a cauliflower-like head made up of tiny flower buds.

Kale

Here’s how you can spot the most common types of kale:

  • Curly kale has green, frilly leaves.
  • Dinosaur kale has long, flat, wrinkly, bluish-green leaves and a thick stem.
  • Redbor kale has filly leaves like curly kale, but it’s deep red or purple.

Broccoli And Kale Taste Different

Although broccoli and kale both taste a bit bitter (especially when raw), their overall flavor differs.

You’ll know you’re eating these veggies if your tastebuds pick up these flavors:

Broccoli

Raw broccoli has a mix of sweet and bitter flavors with a milder-tasting stem than florets. When cooked, the veg gets sweeter.

Kale

Like broccoli, raw kale tastes slightly bitter. However, it’s also earthy and a little peppery and nutty. Cooked kale has a milder flavor.

Broccoli And Kale Can Both Be Eaten Raw Or Cooked

Fresh broccoli on bowl.

Both veggies are pretty versatile ingredients for raw and cooked dishes. Though, you can perhaps use kale in more ways.

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Here’s recipe inspiration for the best ways to eat broccoli and kale:

Broccoli

If you’re keen to eat broccoli raw, try it cut into thin strips with a dip like hummus. To make it sweeter and more tender, roast or stir-fry it. For max nutrition, eat your broccoli lightly steamed.

Kale

Raw kale is most delicious when chopped and smothered in a creamy, nutty dressing like tahini. You can also whizz a few raw leaves with your smoothie. Or cook kale in soups, stir-fries, or pasta sauces. You can even juice kale or drizzle it with olive oil and pop it in the oven to make kale chips.

 Broccoli And Kale Are Both Packed With Nutrients

Fresh kale in a small basket.

Broccoli and kale are both nutrient superstars. The two veggies have the same vitamins and minerals, but, weight for weight, kale has a little more protein, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K than broccoli.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the good stuff in broccoli and kale:

Broccoli

A cup (about 90g) of raw broccoli will give you all this:

  • 35 calories
  • 2g protein
  • 6g carbs
  • 2.4g fiber
  • Vitamins: A, C, K, and various B vitamins.
  • Minerals: potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.

Kale

All this goodness is in a cup (70g or so) of chopped raw kale:

  • 30 calories.
  • 2g protein.
  • 3g carbs.
  • 8g fiber.
  • Vitamins: A, C, K, and various B vitamins.
  • Minerals: potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.

Broccoli And Kale Both Have Impressive Health Benefits

Broccoli on a cutting board.

 

Broccoli, kale, and all their relatives from the cabbage family have something special inside them: disease-fighting compounds. Some of these good guys contain sulfur, giving cooked broccoli and kale that characteristic, umm, strong smell.

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Have a closer look at the compounds and their health-enhancing potential:

Broccoli

Broccoli’s boast-worthy compounds are sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (which might help protect against and fight cancer) and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (which look after your eyes).

Kale

Kale also contains the possible cancer-fighters sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol and eyesight-protecting lutein and zeaxanthin.

Broccoli And Kale Are Both Risky Foods For Some People

For most of us, broccoli and kale can only do us good (if we stick to a cup or two a day). However, if you experience certain health problems, it’s probably best to avoid these veggies.

Broccoli

Get your doc’s okay before adding broccoli to your meals if you have thyroid problems, kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or are taking blood thinners.

Kale

If you’re on blood thinners or experience trouble with your thyroid or kidneys, also chat to your doctor before eating kale on the reg.

Broccoli And Kale Are Both On The List Of Top Superfoods

Fresh kale leaves on cutting board.

Food experts keep telling us to eat broccoli and kale.

Here are reasons these veg made it onto Everyday Health’s list of 15 must-eat superfoods:

Broccoli

On top of their potential cancer-prevention perk, broccoli is also believed to protect against heart attacks and stroke. Plus, it might help keep your gut bacteria healthy and make you feel fuller for longer (thanks to its generous fiber content).

Kale

What makes kale shine is its antioxidants, which give this leafy green inflammation-busting power.

Conclusion

As far as nutrients and health-boosting potential go, broccoli and kale are both champs. Since their nutrients are so similar (they’re from the same family, after all), pick which veggie you eat based on its taste and recipe versatility.

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If you’re not a vegetable fan, the idea of turning kale into crisps or sneaking it into smoothies might get your attention. Though, don’t turn your nose up at broccoli till you’ve tasted it roasted in the oven and sprinkled with cheese slivers. For top health perks, give broccoli and kale turns to be the veggie hero on your plate – or let them share the role.

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