Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a leafy, green vegetable of Persian origin. Spinach is a high-fiber, balanced food that brings density, color, texture, vitamins, and minerals to the recipes. Whether consumed cooked or raw, spinach is a vegetable-filled with nutrients.
Spinach belongs to the family of the amaranth, which is linked to beets and quinoa. Eating spinach can improve the safety of the lungs, minimize oxidative stress, help avoid cancer, and relieve blood pressure.
Nutrition Facts of Spinach
The USDA provides the following nutrition information for 3.5 ounces or 100 grams of fresh raw spinach:
- Calories – 23
- Carbohydrates – 3.6g
- Fiber – 2.2 grams
- Fat – 0.4 grams
- Water – 91%
- Protein – 2.9 grams
- Sugar – 0.4 grams
- Vitamin K – 483mcg
- Sodium – 76 mg
- Vitamin C – 28.6mg
Most of the spinach carbs are made from fiber, which is extremely safe. Spinach also contains small amounts of sugar, particularly in the form of glucose and fructose.
There are 2.9 grams of protein contained in 100 grams of fresh spinach. Spinach contains only about as much protein as carbs do.
Spinach and other leafy greens can be considered “healthy” foods on low-carbohydrate diets because they are so low in calories and they contain fiber. Spinach is rich in insoluble fiber, which in several ways will improve your wellbeing.
Vitamins and Minerals
- Iron – Spinach is an excellent source of this very important mineral. Iron works to produce hemoglobin, which adds oxygen to the tissues of the body.
- Calcium – This mineral is important for your bone health and is a vital signaling agent for your nervous system, heart, and muscles.
- Vitamin B9 – This vitamin, also known as folate or folic acid, is important to pregnant women and is necessary for proper cellular function and tissue development.
- Vitamin K – For blood clotting, this vitamin is important. One spinach leaf significantly provides more than half of your daily needs.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin is essential for blood clotting. One spinach leaf delivers significantly over half of your daily needs.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Spinach contains high concentrations of nitrates that have been found to improve reduce levels of blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease.
Spinach contains chlorophyll, which is responsible for its green color, as well as being filled with vitamins, food, and minerals. Chlorophyll has strong antioxidant effects which indicate promising cancer prevention benefits.
Vitamin A present in spinach plays a crucial role in avoiding oxidative damage to eye health. Spinach is abundant in zeaxanthin and lutein which are in some vegetables the carotenoids that are responsible for color.
Human eyes also contain large concentrations of these pigments that shield the eyes from sunlight damage.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron for non-animals. Iron deficiency is a common cause of women’s hair loss, which can be avoided with an adequate intake of iron-rich foods, such as spinach.
Spinach consumption and other vegetables are correlated dramatically with a lower chance of weight gain. Some studies have suggested that consuming four portions of vegetables a day, rather than two, could reduce the risk of weight gain by up to 82%.
Spinach contains a potent antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in patients with diabetes and decrease peripheral neuropathy.
How should we eat “cooked or raw”
Boiling spinach can significantly reduce the amounts of those good-for-you nitrates, so often the way to go is raw or steamed. Pureeing spinach leaves may also enhance the ability of the body to absorb lutein and beta-carotene from healthy compounds compared to uncut spinach.
How to prepare the spinach
Spinach combines well for moist cooking techniques but is more widely used for steaming and sauteing. When cooking with oil be vigilant as spinach will serve as a sponge and soak up a large portion of fat.
Seek to apply it to salads with acidic liquids such as lemon juice, white wines, and vinegar, as these can help to improve calcium absorption in spinach. Adding fat to fresh or steamed spinach also helps free up the bulk of the beta-carotene.
Here are some ideas that you can try :
- Salads – A limited quantity of baby spinach is still delightfully combined with other salad greens, spring mixes, fresh vegetables, nuts, and fruit.
- Fried – Of course frying is a simple way to cook every type of vegetables. Attach your other favorites to a fast stir-fry, or try something slightly more difficult like spanakopita.
- Smoothies – Spinach can be added to a number of smoothie combos to make the morning superfood. For a sweeter mix do it with bananas, berries, or orange juice and pineapple juice. Consider avocados, coconut oil or butter, soy (or some other dairy-free) yogurt, or even add a pinch of nuts to make your yummy beverage richer inconsistency.
- Spinach Curry – Dahl, an Indian dish made mainly of vegetables, lentils, and onions, is all the yummier added in with some spinach. This dish is simple and super flavourful, as far as Indian cuisine goes.
Risk of Spinach
- If your kidneys aren’t completely functioning, eating so much potassium in your blood may cause excess potassium and could even be fatal. Spinach also includes oxalates that can damage those with problems with the kidney or gallbladder.
- Plus your spinach consumption could be harmful if you take blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin). It is important that you maintain a consistent intake of vitamin K-containing foods (like spinach), which play a major role in blood coagulating.
- Spinach ranks number seven in the Environmental Working Group’s 2015 Dirty Dozen. That means they can be exposed to high pesticide levels. You can buy organic spinach where possible, but make sure to wash it well regardless of what kind it is.
Spinach is a very good source of vitamin K, vitamin A (carotenoids), manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and vitamin C.
While many associate spinach with its iron content, the nitrates in those green leaves are actually the ones that give you real-life power-up. Eating a nitrate-rich diet can potentially improve athletic performance, lower cholesterol levels, and lower heart disease risk.