Palak or Sarso, which is healthier? Know how to relish these winter superfoods | Health

Winter is the season of leafy greens and with the improved appetite there is a plenty of scope to incorporate all these nutrient-rich veggies into your delicious recipes. Sarso (mustard greens) and palak (spinach) feature on the top of the winter veggies list with their amazing nutritional profile and delicious taste. Both the veggies are filled with wonderful nutrients that can support your heart, bone health, and brain health, boost immunity and reduce cholesterol levels. Not everyone likes to have a curry or stir-fry, when it comes to enjoying these vegetables to their heart’s content. In case you want to relish them in the form of pakora, paratha, soup, salad or smoothie, we are here to help you with how to do it. (See pics | Avocado to spinach; 5 foods to keep your body and brain young)

Spinach and sarso (mustard greens) are two leafy greens that have gained popularity due to their impressive nutritional content and potential health benefits(Freepik, Pinterest)

“Spinach and sarso (mustard greens) are two leafy greens that have gained popularity due to their impressive nutritional content and potential health benefits,” says Dietitian Vidhi Chawla, the Architect of Fisico Diet and Aesthetic Clinic.

Chawla in this interview with HT Digital shares benefits of spinach and sarso, compares their nutrient profiles, and provides creative ways to incorporate these greens into your diet


Nutrient Profile

Spinach is renowned for its exceptional nutrient density, offering a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. A 100-gram serving of spinach provides the following key nutrients:

  • Vitamin K: Essential for blood clotting and bone health.
  • Vitamin A: Important for vision, immune function, and skin health.
  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant that supports the immune system and skin health.
  • Folate: Vital for cell division and the prevention of birth defects.
  • Iron: Crucial for transporting oxygen in the blood.
  • Potassium: A mineral that helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Magnesium: Important for muscle and nerve function.

Health benefits of spinach

1. Bone health: Spinach is rich in Vitamin K, promoting healthy bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

2. Eye health: Abundant in lutein and zeaxanthin, spinach can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, supporting overall eye health.

3. Heart health: Its high potassium content helps regulate blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease.

4. Cancer prevention: Spinach is packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids and carotenoids, which may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

5. Weight management: Low in calories and high in fibre, spinach aids in weight management by promoting satiety and supporting digestive health.

How to add spinach to your diet

1. Salads: Spinach serves as an excellent base for salads. Combine it with various vegetables, fruits, and your choice of protein, such as grilled chicken or tofu.

2. Smoothies: Blend fresh or frozen spinach into your smoothies to enhance their nutrient content.

3. Cooked dishes: Sautee spinach with garlic and olive oil or steam it as a side dish. You can also add it to soups, stews, and pasta dishes for extra flavour and nutrition.

Sarso (Mustard Greens)

Nutrient profile

Sarso, or mustard greens, are a lesser-known leafy green with their own impressive nutrient profile. A 100-gram serving of sarso offers the following key nutrients:

  • Vitamin A: Essential for vision, skin health, and immune function.
  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant that boosts the immune system.
  • Vitamin K: Supports bone health and blood clotting.
  • Calcium: Crucial for strong bones and teeth.
  • Iron: Essential for oxygen transport in the blood.
  • Folate: Important for cell division and foetal development.
  • Dietary Fibre: Supports digestive health and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Health benefits

1. Immune support: Sarso is a rich source of vitamin C, known for its immune-boosting properties, helping the body fight off infections and illnesses.

2. Bone health: High Vitamin K content in sarso contributes to strong and healthy bones, reducing the risk of fractures.

3. Heart health: The presence of fibre and antioxidants in mustard greens can reduce the risk of heart disease by promoting healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

4. Digestive health: Mustard greens are a good source of dietary fibre, aiding digestion and promoting a healthy gut microbiome.

5. Anti-inflammatory: Sarso contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, potentially providing relief from inflammatory conditions.

How to add sarso to your diet

1. Sarso saag: A traditional North Indian dish, Sarso Saag is a flavourful puree of mustard greens and spices, often enjoyed with makki di roti (corn flatbread).

2. Salads: Incorporate mustard greens into your salads for a peppery and slightly bitter flavour that adds variety to your greens.

3. Stir-fries: Add sarso to stir-fries along with other vegetables, tofu, or lean protein sources for a nutritious and delicious meal.

4. Sarso leaves paratha: Create nutritious parathas by finely chopping mustard greens and adding them to the dough.

Spinach vs Sarso

Vitamin K: Spinach offers higher Vitamin K content, which is essential for bone health and blood clotting.

Vitamin A: Sarso is a richer source of Vitamin A, promoting good vision, skin health, and immune function.

Vitamin C: Both greens provide Vitamin C, but sarso contains slightly more, enhancing immune support.

Folate: Spinach has a slightly higher folate content, important for cell division and preventing birth defects.

Iron: Spinach has a higher iron content, which is crucial for oxygen transport in the blood.

Calcium: Sarso contains calcium, essential for strong bones and teeth, while spinach provides minimal amounts.

Potassium: Spinach is a better source of potassium, aiding heart health and blood pressure regulation.

Fibre: Both greens provide dietary fibre, with sarso having a slightly higher content.

“Spinach and sarso are outstanding leafy greens, each offering unique health benefits and nutrient profiles. To maximize your nutritional intake and culinary experiences, consider incorporating both into your diet. Spinach shines with its Vitamin K content, while sarso excels in Vitamin A and C. By embracing the versatility of these greens, you can promote a healthier lifestyle and savour the unique flavours and nutritional richness they bring to your table. Whether it’s a nutritious salad, a comforting saag, or a flavourful stir-fry, these greens can be your allies in achieving better health and well-being,” adds Chawla.

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