How often do Americans eat leafy greens, and which ones do they think are the best?

Oana DumitruContributor
July 10, 2024, 10:03 PM GMT+0

Medical professionals, fitness influencers, and many others recognize leafy greens as among the healthiest widely available foods. Kale, for instance, has grown in popularity over the past decade thanks in part to its billing — and marketing — as a superfood for its high concentration of vitamins. But a recent YouGov poll found that twice as many Americans prefer spinach rather than kale for nutrition, and spinach beats kale for taste in a rout.

Most Americans eat salad frequently. 40% of Americans say they eat salad at least a few times a week, including 6% who eat it daily. Another 38% say they eat salad at least a few times a month. Only 4% of Americans say they never eat salad. Americans with higher family incomes are more likely to say they consume salad at least a few times a week.

A majority of Americans say they seldom or never consume smoothies (60%), with only 3% saying they drink a smoothie daily. Adults under 30 are more likely to say they drink smoothies a few times a week compared to older Americans. Smoothies are also consumed more frequently by Americans from households with higher incomes, with 8% of Americans who make $100,000 or more saying they drink smoothies daily.

Iceberg is considered the best-tasting by the largest share of Americans (18%), and 25% say it's their top choice as the base for their salad. However, 38% of Americans say iceberg lettuce is the least nutritious by 38% of Americans — by far the highest share for any of the greens polled about. Spinach, romaine, and spring mix are among the top choices for taste among Americans, just behind iceberg lettuce: 15%, 13%, and 10% say each tastes the best, respectively. While few Americans consider romaine and spring mix to be the most nutritious green — 3% and 4%, respectively — spinach wins the largest share of Americans who say it is the most nutritious (33%).

In spite of its reputation as a superfood, kale is considered to be the most nutritious by only 17% of Americans — half as many as say the same about spinach. Kale also is considered to have the worst taste by 20% of Americans — double the share who say runner-up mustard greens — and garners the largest shares who say they dislike it the most as a base for both salads (15%) and smoothies (11%).

One-third of Americans (33%) say they prefer none of the options polled as a base for their smoothies. Spinach is the only leafy green included that more than 10% say they like the most as the base for their drink.

— Taylor Orth contributed to this article


See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This YouGov poll was conducted online on March 4 - 8, 2024 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample in each survey is approximately 4%.

Image: Getty (Johner Images)