What is the Difference Between Kale and Lettuce

The main difference between kale and lettuce is that kale is a cruciferous vegetable while lettuce is a leafy vegetable.

Simply put, we usually consume kale either raw, mixed in salads and smoothies or even cooked. For instance, baked kale and crispy kale chips made by sprinkling a spoon of olive oil and salt on top are popular delicacies. However, we always consume lettuce raw, often mixing with salads and as sandwich toppings.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Kale 
     – Definition, Nutrients, Varieties 
2. What is Lettuce
     – Definition, Nutrients, Varieties 
2. Similarities Between Kale and Lettuce
     – Outline of Common Features
3. Difference Between Kale and Lettuce
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Baby Kale, Butterhead Lettuce, Curly Kale, Iceberg Lettuce, Kale, Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Tuscan KaleDifference Between Kale and Lettuce - Comparison Summary

What is Kale

Kale is a green, leafy, cruciferous vegetable. Kale, just like cabbage and brussels sprouts, belongs to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables. It contains many nutrients that may greatly benefit your whole body. For instance, kale consists of antioxidants, vitamins C, vitamin K, fibre, iron, and calcium. These nutrients help the human body to fight various health problems. The antioxidants usually help the body to get rid of harmful toxins. A cup of cooked kale provides 3.6% of an adult’s daily needs for potassium which becomes beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and lowering high blood pressure. Moreover, like other green vegetables, kale possesses chlorophyll, which prevents the human body from absorbing heterocyclic amines, limiting the risk of cancer.

Compare Kale and Lettuce

When you pay a visit to the local grocery store, you may come across a few main varieties of kale, such as Tuscan kale, Curly kale, or Baby kale.

Tuscan kale is a variety of dark green kale leaves that are flat. Tuscan kale comes with a mellow and rich flavour, so it is frequently used in Italian dishes like Kale Salad or Tuscan Vegetable Stew.  Curly kale, on the other hand, takes a bright green colour. Curly kale leaves appear quite curly and have a more bitter and spicy flavour to them. When making salads with curly kale, it is usually necessary to massage the leaves well in order to remove the bitterness from the leaves and to give them a sweeter taste. However, baby kale has an extremely tender taste. Therefore, baby kale leaves are often mixed in leafy green mixes and salad mixes you may find in the grocery stores.

What is Lettuce

Lettuce is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the daisy family of Asteraceae. Often, farmers cultivate lettuce as a leaf vegetable, but sometimes, farmers also cultivate it to obtain lettuce seeds and stems. In ancient Egypt, lettuce was cultivated mainly to obtain oil from lettuce seeds and lettuce leaves as a source of food. Lettuce must be cultivated in low temperatures in order to delay the flowering process.

Lettuce contains fat, dietary fibre, proteins, carbohydrates and sugars. Apart from that, the mineral content available in lettuce includes calcium, iron phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and sodium. It also contains vitamins such as folate, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, Vitamin C, A, E, K and B6. By adding lettuce to your daily diet, you can absorb nutrients necessary to fight cancer, lower cholesterol levels, protect neurons, prevent inflammation, and control anxiety and insomnia. Furthermore, there is a considerable amount of antioxidants present in lettuce as well.

Kale vs Lettuce

There are a few different varieties of lettuce such as Iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce, Butterhead lettuce, etc. Iceberg lettuce is one of them with a crispy texture and a mild taste. Iceberg lettuce has leaves with a greener shade on the outside and a whiter shade on the inside. It has a high content of choline. Romaine lettuce is another variety with long and deep greeny leaves. It also has a crispy texture but a deeper taste. Romaine lettuce is a source of vitamins; rich in vitamin C, A B1, A and B2. Butterhead lettuce contains loose and larger leaves with a sweet taste and a soft texture. These leaves can be separated from the stem easily. Further, loose-leaf lettuce has broad and curly leaves, which are loose and come with a tender taste and a crispy texture.

Similarities Between Kale and Lettuce

  • Kale and lettuce are leafy green vegetables that can be consumed raw.
  • Moreover, we can add both these green vegetables to a range of food items, extending from salads to smoothies.
  • They are two sources of food rich in nutrients vital for the maintenance of a healthy body.

Difference Between Kale and Lettuce


Kale is a type of hardy cabbage that produces erect stems with large leaves and no compact head while lettuce is a plant with large, green edible leaves.


Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, while lettuce is a leafy vegetable.


Moreover, kale can be consumed both raw and cooked, but lettuce is always consumed fresh mixed with salads, smoothies, sandwich toppings, etc.

Nutrient Profile

Kale consists of antioxidants, vitamins C and K, fibre, iron and calcium, while lettuce contains lots of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, proteins, carbohydrates and sugars.


The main difference between kale and lettuce is that kale is a cruciferous vegetable that can be consumed either cooked or fresh, while lettuce is a leafy vegetable that is always consumed raw. Most significantly, both kale and lettuce are two sources rich in vitamins and minerals which help your body to fight diseases.


1. Gunnars, Kris. “10 Health Benefits of Kale.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 29 June 2018.
2. Whelan, Corey. “Iceberg Lettuce: Nutrition, Calories, and Recipes.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 12 Oct. 2017.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Kale-Bundle” By Evan-Amos – Own work, CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Salad-leaf-lettuce-lettuce” (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Anuradha

Anuradha has a BA degree in English, French, and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Master's degree in Teaching English Literature in a Second Language Context. Her areas of interests include Arts and Literature, Language and Education, Nature and Animals, Cultures and Civilizations, Food, and Fashion.

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