The first round is a tight fight – so much so we that have to take into account how quickly these two vert colossi are digested. Despite broccoli having a higher calorie count – 34 per 100g to spinach’s 23 – the leafy veg gets the nod on this round thanks to its speedy delivery system.
The judges declare a draw in the protein round. Both greenies offer a token of 3g of protein per 100g – not enough to make a difference to even the most malnourished biceps. Still, cruciferous veg reduces estrogen levels and helps produce more muscle-building testosterone, says the journal Metabolism. And serve with olive oil, because good fats create testosterone, too.
Here’s where broccoli nibbles at the spinach empire. It contains 102% more vitamin C than the same serving of spinach. This will help you recover faster from workouts, according to research in the British Journal of Nutrition. The best way to cook it is in the microwave. Research at the University of Murcia found broccoli prepared this way held more of this recovery-boosting antioxidant.
Low-calorie spinach is ideal for losing weight. And it packs 40% more B vitamins and 10% more iron than broccoli. “Iron helps transport more oxygen to your cells, helping you train for longer, says sports scientist Brad Morris. Long runs on a belly full of Popeye food will be significantly easier.
When it comes to vitamins, Spinach surges into the lead: just a single salad’s worth will give you 604% of your RDA of vitamin K, compared to broccoli’s 127%. This vitamin is responsible for keeping your skeleton strong and reducing the number of fractures you get, found research in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. And big muscles need a solid coat hanger to drape off.
The leaf is a better recovery option if you’re eating it before bed. A study in the aptly named journal Sleep found a diet rich in magnesium improves the quality of your sleep, and spinach has 15% more than broccoli. And frozen is just as healthy as fresh – how convenient!
And the winner is…
Spinach! Its night-time recovery and weight-loss boosting prowess ears it a points victory.