Smackdown! Which Greens Deliver the Most Juice?

I love juicing, but I also love to save money, so whenever I can combine the two, I’m pretty happy. I’ve been using a lot of Swiss and rainbow chard in my juices lately, because that’s what’s been on sale. But it had me thinking: I wonder which leafy green veggies give you the most juice for your money?

In this highly scientific test (okay, it was just me, some veggies and a juicer), I set up the challenge: Juice roughly an equivalent volume of kale (Tuscan cabbage), chard, spinach and romaine (cos lettuce) to which wins.

I paid $2.50 per bunch for each type of greens, but in order to even out the volume of leaves, I only ended up using 2/3 of the spinach. Otherwise, I juiced a whole, small romaine lettuce, about 12 leaves of kale, 10 leaves of chard and about four cups of spinach leaves.

Four leafy greens

The winner: Romaine

I got almost twice the amount of juice from the romaine as the other three greens. But there’s a nutrient cost: While romaine lettuce ranks more highly in nutrient benefits than some other salad greens like butter lettuce, arugula and iceberg, it falls short of spinach, chard and kale.

Bottom line: Don’t neglect romaine in your juices, especially when the price per head is a good value. Try mixing it with other greens to stretch your juicing dollar.

Runner up: Spinach

In my photo, it looks like spinach did about as well as the kale and chard—but remember, I only used 2/3 of my bunch of spinach, making it a good value too. And spinach competes well nutritionally; it’s a good source of vitamin A, C and K, plus iron and fiber, and it’s also rich in folic acid.

The downside? Spinach is a pain to clean. It tends to be very sandy, so factor a good rinse in a colander into juicing time. If you’re in a rush, spinach isn’t the quickest choice. And the good value only works if you buy bunched spinach. Those bags of pre-washed spinach cost much more per pound.

Chard and kale: Lower yield but higher nutrition

It looks like these last two greens are real losers here, but it’s important to remember that kale and chard are nutritional superstars. Chard is packed with vitamins and phytonutrients, including some calcium, which you don’t find in other leafy greens. Honestly, I expected chard to do a little better than kale as far as juice yield, but science has spoken.

In addition to vitamins A, K and C, kale also provides some iron and calcium, plus the electrolyte potassium. Our Reboot with Joe nutritionists have written quite a bit about why kale is so awesome.

And hey, if either of these greens is in-season or on sale, snatch them up, and consider mixing them in with higher-yield veggies like cucumber, zucchini, tomato or celery. Check out all my budget-juicing columns.