Of all the leafy greens people eat, spinach is one of the most popular. It goes great in lots of dishes and can even be eaten raw. Aside from all its culinary uses, it also boasts a long list of potential health benefits. Learn more about these health perks and other fun spinach facts below.
Spinach: A Fan Favorite
Spinach is a member of the goosefoot family and is related to beets and Swiss chard. It’s been cultivated in the U.S. for over 200 years. Over time, it’s become one of the most popular vegetables in the country. According to a Bon Appetite, one poll showed that 56% of people considered spinach their favorite vegetable.1
Spinach Nutrition Facts: Full Of Vitamins And Minerals
Spinach is regarded by many as a “superfood”. That’s because it is loaded with vitamins and minerals, yet contains very little calories. In other words, there are lots of perks and almost no downsides to eating lots of spinach. Find out about the specific benefits of spinach below.2
Vitamins And Minerals
- Vitamin A – Spinach contains provitamin A carotenoids which function as antioxidants, which help support eyesight and eye health.3
- Dietary Fiber – The fiber in spinach assists with digestion and stomach functions.4,5
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid – This antioxidant supports the body’s cell health.6,7
- Iron – Spinach contains about 15% of the daily recommended amount of iron in a diet. Iron supports red blood cell
health and oxygen distribution.8,9
- Folic Acid – One cup of raw spinach has about 58 mcg of folic acid which is an important nutrient during pregnancy.10,11
- Lutein – Regular portions of spinach provides lutein, another carotenoid which helps support eye health.12
Additional Health Benefits
All of those vitamins and nutrients make spinach one of the world’s healthiest foods. Here are a few additional examples of why it’s one of the best green leafy vegetables.
Spinach is chock full of vitamin A, an essential micronutrient for immune support.13
Your body doesn’t produce Vitamin A, so you must include it in your diet. Fortunately, one cup of raw spinach contains over half of the daily recommended amount of this micronutrient.14
Spinach provides your body with magnesium, which helps power you throughout the day. Plus, it contains folate that it uses to convert other foods into usable energy.15
The nitrates in spinach support healthy heart functions and work to support healthy blood pressure levels.16
Skin And Hair
Can’t make it to the spa? Try eating some spinach instead. As mentioned, this leafy green is full of vitamin A, which
is also an essential building block for healthy hair. It is also an important vitamin for skin tissue growth.17
Note: Spinach contains calcium oxalates, which is what kidney stones are made of. However, there is little evidence to suggest a relationship between dietary oxalates and kidney stones. Speak to a doctor to get the most up-to-date advice on calcium oxalates.18
Different Types Of Spinach
You can find spinach at the store or market in a variety of forms. There are three common spinach varieties that tend to come fresh, frozen, or canned. They are all equally nutritious and delicious.
This is the crinkly kind of spinach. You will often find it sold in fresh bunches at the store. It is dark green and crunchy, which makes it tasty in salads or cooked up in the sauté pan. Be sure to wash it well before eating.19
This spinach is lighter green and easier to clean. It is often frozen or canned, which is a great way to preserve all the nutrients at the peak of freshness. In fact, frozen spinach can sometimes contain more nutrients like folate than fresh spinach that sits around the grocery store.20
This tiny spinach is usually flat. It is easy to clean and very tender compared to the other spinaches. This makes it particularly great for salads.21
How And When To Eat Spinach
Another great thing about spinach is its versatility. You can eat spinach raw in a salad or sauté it with some olive oil and lemon juice. Add it to a smoothie for a quick fix of nutrition, or toss it in a soup for a touch of green. Spinach is a great addition to many dishes but is equally tasty all on its own.
Raw Vs Cooked Spinach
There are two camps of thought on whether cooked or raw spinach is better. The fact is that it all depends. Raw spinach contains oxalic acid that may prevent the body from absorbing nutrients like iron and calcium. This gets broken down when you cook spinach. However, nutrients such as folate and vitamin C are more plentiful in raw
It all boils down to what you are looking for in your diet. The good news is that neither is bad for you. You can enjoy the best of both worlds. Cook your spinach one night, and eat it raw the next for a balanced solution.
Talk to a doctor to get specific advice on your diet and what kind of spinach is right for you.
A Super Food In A Leafy Green Package
Some foods come and go as “superfood” fads. Spinach, though, is here to stay. This veggie lives up to all the hype. It contains essential vitamins and nutrients bring a variety of health benefits.23
You can cook spinach into an omelet, mix it into a salad, or even press it into juice. The list goes on and on. In fact, there are almost as many culinary possibilities for spinach as there are health benefits.