Spinach vs. Romaine Lettuce – What’s the Difference? (ANSWERED)

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spinach vs romaine lettuce

Romaine is one of the more flavorful salad greens available, and spinach is almost legendary for its many health benefits. Have you ever wondered what the differences are between Romaine Lettuce and spinach?   

If you have, keep reading. The differences between spinach and Romaine may go deeper than you thought.

In this article, we will explore: 

  • What’s the difference between spinach and Romaine Lettuce?
  • Taste differences between Romaine Lettuce and spinach.
  • Nutrients in Romaine Lettuce and spinach.
  • Is Spinach healthier than Romaine Lettuce?

Let’s dive right in.

What’s the Difference Between Spinach and Romaine Lettuce?

romaine lettuce name

Romaine Lettuce and spinach are very different plants with vastly different origins. 

Romaine Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia) is called ‘cos’ lettuce in the United Kingdom. Across the European continent, it is known by various names, all of which roughly translates to Roman Lettuce in the local language. The North American pronunciation of Romaine is believed to have been brought over by early French settlers who referred to the leafy green as ‘aslaitue romaine.’

Spinach, also known as ‘Persian Green,’ originated in Nepal and was cultivated in China as early as 647 AD. The modern pronunciation comes to us by way of France. In the 14th century, the Middle English word ‘espinache’ was adopted from the French ‘épinard.’ 

Appearance and Cultivation

romaine lettuce farm

Romaine can be tall, bolting to 3 feet or more in hot or dry conditions. Optimally it should be harvested at around 12 inches. It has frilly green leaves with a stiff central rib that grows around a central head or heart. 

Spinach has triangular or oval leaves that are a darker green than Romaine. These leaves grow in an alternating pattern on stalks that originate from a root core. 

Both spinach and Romaine Lettuce are cool weather crops preferring temperatures in the mid 50’s to low 70’s. However, Romaine is much more heat tolerant than other lettuce varieties or spinach. 

While spinach will wilt and die if the weather gets too hot or it receives too much direct sunlight, Romaine will bolt and go to seed.  

Both plants prefer loose, loamy soil with a nearly neutral pH. Spinach can withstand poor soil conditions better than Romaine but is more water sensitive.

Nutrition

No lettuce variety can match spinach for nutritional content, but Romaine fares better than most. 

Romaine Lettuce:

  • Is higher in pantothenic acid.
  • Is lower in sucrose and higher in glucose.
  • Is lower in saturated fatty acids and higher in monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Contains more gamma-tocopherol and delta-tocopherol.

Spinach:

  • Is higher in fiber.
  • Supplies more protein.
  • Contains more vitamins A, C, and E.
  • Is higher in calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
  • Supplies higher or equal levels of all nine essential amino acids. 

Taste Differences Between Romaine Lettuce and Spinach

romaine lettuce salad

Romaine lettuce has a juicy, refreshing flavor that is less sweet than iceberg but not as grassy as spinach and with just a bit of a bitter edge in the larger leaves. The heart of a Ceasar salad, Romain, has a mild flavor at home with a light gingery vinaigrette yet still robust enough not to be overpowered by the thickest Ranch Dressing. 

Spinach has a stouter earthy taste with a milder sweetness than Romain and a distinct grassy note that can be slightly bitter when larger leaves are eaten raw. Wilting with olive oil brings out spinach’s sweeter side, as does steaming. 

Nutrition Table

Per 100g Spinach Romaine Lettuce
Calories 23 (1%DV) 17 (1% DV)
Fat 0.4g 0.3g
Carbohydrates 3.6g 3.3g
Protein 2.9g 1.2g
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Fiber 2.2g 2.1g
Sugar 0.4g 1.2g
Iron 2.7mg 1mg
Vitamin A 469μg 436μg
Vitamin C 28.1mg 4mg
Vitamin B1 0.1mg 0.1mg
Vitamin B2 0.2mg 0.1mg
Vitamin B5 0.1mg 0.1mg
Vitamin B12 0 0
Biotin 0 0
Folate 194μg 136μg
Vitamin E 2mg 0.1mg
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin K 482.9μg 102.5μg
Vitamin K1 0 0

Is Spinach Healthier Than Romaine Lettuce?

spinach salad

Yes, spinach is healthier than Romaine Lettuce. Both leafy greens contain nutrients that:

  • Lower blood 
  • Protect against age-related eye diseases 
  • Improve cognitive abilities
  • Aid in bone development and bone density retention
  • Help assure healthy blood and skin.
  • Boost immunity

The difference is, in nearly every instance, the levels of these nutrients are higher in spinach than in Romaine Lettuce or are combined to make them readily available.

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