Love ItLove It WINWIN CuteCute

The Similarities Between Spinach and Swiss Chard

Swiss chard and spinach are leaf vegetables that many people enjoy eating, particularly as potherbs. Quite a few people can’t tell the difference between these two leafy greens since the appearance and flavor are quite similar. So how do they actually compare to each other?

Botanically and scientifically, the two plants are totally different species. Chard (Beta vulgaris) is a member of the chenopod family. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a member of the amaranth family.

Beets also have the scientific name of Beta vulgaris because beets and chard are the same plant species. The main difference between beets and chard is that beets are primarily grown for the roots while chard is mainly grown for the leaves. Beet leaves and chard are the same things.

Chard originated in the Mediterranean region while spinach got its start in Persia. Incidentally, the name “chard” comes from the Latin “carduus”, which means artichoke thistle, though it obviously isn’t a thistle or related to artichokes. However, it also didn’t originate in Switzerland.

Despite being entirely different species and belonging to completely different plant families, spinach and chard are quite similar. In fact, they are more alike than they are unlike. As mentioned, they look and taste similar, though chard tends to have a milder flavor. They are alike in other ways, too.

Chard and spinach plants favor the same growing conditions, both grow easily from seeds, and both tend to grow vigorously in cool temperatures. Both are biennial, requiring two years to produce seeds. They are harvested in the same way and they can be interchanged in the same recipes.

You might ask, “How do they compare, nutritionally?” They are quite similar in this, too. Both are very low in fat content, though chard has about half the fat that spinach does. Neither contains cholesterol. Chard does contain almost three times as much sodium, though neither is exceptionally high in this mineral.

Both are quite low in calories. A hundred grams of chard has about 19 calories while the same amount of spinach has 23.

Both are very high in vitamin A, C, and K, although chard has nearly twice as much of the last vitamin. Both are good sources of vitamin E and riboflavin. Spinach contains nearly ten times more folate.

The two vegetables are also comparable in minerals and are good sources of iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Note: Chard and spinach are comparable in the amount of iron they contain. It is a myth that spinach is exceptionally high in iron and the myth was encouraged by the Popeye cartoon. The cause of the myth was a simple mathematical error of putting a decimal point in the wrong place. It was found that 100 g of spinach contains about 2.71 mg of iron. However, when it was written down, the transcriber wrote it as 27.1 mg of iron, which would indeed be exceptionally high.

One thing that could be said, however, is that since the body needs vitamin C in order to properly absorb iron, and as both of these plants contain a large amount of vitamin C, both are valuable sources of dietary iron.

What all of this boils down to is that although spinach and swiss chard are completely different plants, from totally different plant families, they are so similar in so many ways that the differences aren’t worth mentioning.

The bottom line is if you prefer chard to spinach, eat chard. If you prefer spinach, eat spinach. You are getting virtually the same nutrients from either. Both are easy to grow and harvest, too. Spinach and chard also are great for both spring and fall plantings.

Put in another way, what you can say about one of these plants, you can probably also say of the other.


What do you think?

21 Points

Written by Rex Trulove


  1. hey, I dont understand how their families r different. Amaranth and Chinopod are just the same.

    Plus their morphological character should be mentioned

    • In taste and appearance, there isn’t much difference between spinach and chard. I have yet to find a way of preparation where they can’t be successfully interchanged. Chard tends to have a slightly milder taste, though. I’d say that chard would do well in smoothies. I can’t confirm that, however, because I don’t drink smoothies. :))

  2. I grow a variety of chard known as ‘Rainbow chard’ which has bright red, orange and yellow stems. From a visual point of view it is far superior to plain green spinach, both in the bed and on the plate!

  3. not only these two but also other leaf vegetables are have similarities. Iron and potassium is very common in all the leafy vegetables.

    • Both chard and spinach are high in purine. I feel sorry for your son. Other purine foods include chicken, cauliflower, sardines, anchovies, mussels, peas, and mushrooms. That would take out a lot of my diet. lol I don’t eat sardines or anchovies, but I love all the other high purine foods. Thankfully, the only time I have a buildup of uric acid is in the heat of summer, if I don’t keep properly hydrated. That is only because the uric acid then concentrates because there aren’t enough fluids for urination.