Spinach: Well being advantages, vitamin info (& Popeye)

For the reason that days of Popeye, spinach has been well-known for its skill to make you “sturdy to the end.” Whereas this leafy inexperienced received’t trigger your biceps to inflate like balloons, it’s dense in nutritional vitamins and minerals, low in energy and versatile in cooking. 

Spinach might also assist with a number of well being circumstances, in keeping with Megan Ware, a registered dietitian nutritionist based mostly in Orlando, Florida. “Consuming spinach is useful for sustaining wholesome pores and skin, hair and powerful bones, in addition to serving to with digestion, decreasing the chance for heart disease and enhancing blood glucose management in diabetics,” she informed Stay Science.

Spinach is believed to come back from Persia, in keeping with Arizona State University. It had arrived in China by the seventh century and reached Europe within the mid-Thirteenth century, in keeping with The Agricultural Marketing Research Center. For a while, the English referred to it because the “Spanish vegetable” as a result of it got here by Spain by way of the Moors. In line with BBC Good Food, use of the phrase “Florentine” to explain a dish with spinach can doubtless be traced to Catherine de Medici, the Italian spouse of France’s Henry II. It’s believed that Catherine, who cherished spinach, introduced her personal cooks from Florence to cook dinner spinach in her most popular type.

Spinach is a member of the Chenopodiaceae household, which additionally accommodates nutritionally highly effective meals like beets and Swiss chard. There are three forms of spinach:  

  • Savoy spinach, which has curly or closely wrinkled, darkish inexperienced leaves
  • Semi-savoy spinach, which is considerably much less wrinkly and good to make use of in cooking
  • Flat-leaf spinach, the favored, smooth-textured selection that works effectively in salads and is greatest eaten uncooked. Child spinach is a kind of flat-leaf spinach. 

Dietary profile

“Spinach is likely one of the greatest sources of dietary potassium and magnesium, two crucial electrolytes crucial for sustaining human well being,” Ware mentioned. “It supplies a whopping 839 milligrams of potassium per cup (cooked). As a comparability, one cup of sliced banana has about 539mg of potassium.” 

Ware famous that there are a number of well being advantages to potassium, amongst them “safety towards lack of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and discount within the formation of kidney stones,” she added. “Solely 2 % of U.S. adults meet the every day 4,700 mg advice for potassium.”

The George Mateljan Foundation’s evaluation of spinach’s dietary properties positioned it on the high of their nutrient-rich meals checklist. “Spinach is a wonderful supply of vitamin K, vitamin A (within the type of carotenoids), manganese, folate… copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium … and vitamin C.” Spinach’s calcium, nevertheless, can’t be as simply absorbed as calcium from dairy, and you need to solely count on to soak up about ten % of it. 

Spinach can also be an excellent supply of zinc, dietary fiber, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and choline. It accommodates a novel and helpful combination of phytonutrients, in addition to anti-oxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids. 

“Spinach can also be among the best non-heme (plant-based) sources of iron,” Ware added. The identical is true of spinach’s protein content material; many of the energy in spinach come from protein. This makes it a preferred meals for vegetarians. At solely 7 energy per cup of uncooked spinach and 41 per cup of cooked spinach, it’s additionally an incredible selection for dieters. 

Listed here are the vitamin info for spinach, in keeping with the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration, which regulates meals labeling by the Dietary Labeling and Training Act:

Diet Information Spinach Serving dimension: 1 cup (30 g) Energy 5   Energy from Fats 0 *P.c Every day Values (%DV) are based mostly on a 2,000 calorie weight-reduction plan. Amt per Serving %DV* Amt per Serving %DV*
Whole Fats 0g 0% Whole Carbohydrate 1g 1%
Ldl cholesterol 0mg 0% Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sodium 25mg 1% Sugars 0g
Protein 1g Potassium 167g 5%
Vitamin A 60% Calcium 2%
Vitamin C 15% Iron 4%

Well being advantages


The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends consuming spinach for its vitamin Okay and magnesium content material. Only one cup of cooked spinach accommodates an unbelievable 987 % of your every day vitamin Okay wants and 39 % of your magnesium ones.

In line with the US National Library of Medicine, previously few many years it has change into clear that vitamin Okay is essential to bone well being. A evaluate additionally revealed in Nutrition famous that vitamin Okay consumption may scale back fracture charges, work with vitamin D to extend bone density and positively have an effect on calcium steadiness. Your physique makes use of vitamin Okay when constructing bones, and the consequences appear to be particularly essential for girls: low vitamin Okay ranges have been related to low bone density in girls, however not in males. 

Further Studying

An earlier examine revealed within the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that low intakes of vitamin Okay have been related to an elevated danger of hip fractures in middle-aged girls. That is particularly fascinating as a result of the ladies noticed outcomes from consuming lettuce, displaying that dietary consumption of vitamin Okay by way of consuming greens (not dietary supplements) is useful. 

In relation to males, the impacts of vitamin Okay and bone well being could change into extra obvious as they age, with decreased danger of hip fracture amongst each aged girls and aged males who consumed extra vitamin Okay.

The excessive degree of potassium in spinach can also be useful in defending towards bone mineral density loss, mentioned Ware. Moreover, spinach accommodates calcium, well-known to be essential for bones. The calcium in spinach is, nevertheless, troublesome to soak up so the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends getting calcium from different vegetable sources, reminiscent of broccoli and kale, or dairy. 


That is the commonest sort of anemia, and ladies are its largest danger group. With out adequate iron, your blood can’t produce sufficient hemoglobin, a blood protein that provides blood cells their pink colour and transports oxygen to organs. Consuming iron-rich meals is essential for these affected by or prone to anemia, and with 36 % of your every day iron wants per cooked cup, spinach is an efficient choice. The National Organization of Women’s Health, in addition to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends consuming spinach as a part of an anemia prevention or therapy program. 

Pores and skin and hair

“Need healthier-looking hair? Eat extra spinach!” mentioned Ware. “Spinach is excessive in vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum manufacturing to maintain hair moisturized. Vitamin A can also be crucial for the expansion of all bodily tissues, together with pores and skin and hair.” 

In line with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin A is a compound in retinoids, that are widespread in anti-aging pores and skin therapies. Moreover, vitamin C may also help preserve pores and skin trying youthful and aids in wound therapeutic. “Satisfactory consumption of vitamin C, which spinach may also help to supply, is required for the constructing and upkeep of collagen, which supplies construction to pores and skin and hair,” mentioned Ware. 

Most cancers-fighting

Spinach is a standout when it comes to its mixture of phytonutrient elements. In line with World’s Healthiest Meals, not like most different fruit and veggies, spinach accommodates cancer-fighting brokers known as methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides. It’s also a wonderful supply of antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, neoxanthin and violaxanthin. All of those are anti-inflammatories, which may be useful in most cancers prevention. 

Spinach’s excessive ranges of chlorophyll could have anti-cancer and anti-carcinogen results. A evaluate of anti-cancer weight-reduction plan analysis revealed in Nutrition Journal defined that it is because chorophyll helps bind collectively hydrocarbons, aflatoxins and different hydrophobic molecules which may be related to most cancers and expels them.

Some research have famous attainable anti-cancer results amongst prostate, breast and prostate cancers. One examine revealed within the Journal of Nutrition checked out 15 sorts of carotenoids to see in the event that they combatted most cancers cells and located solely neoxanthin from spinach and fucoxanthin from brown algae to be considerably efficient. 

A 3-year study from the early Nineties discovered that ladies who ate uncooked spinach or carrots greater than twice every week had a decrease danger of breast most cancers, whereas a extra 2010 study seemed on the relationship between flavonoid consumption and ovarian most cancers. Amongst its many findings, this large-scale examine noticed a decrease danger of ovarian most cancers amongst girls who ate essentially the most spinach than those that ate the least. 

Bronchial asthma

“The dangers for growing asthma are decrease in individuals who eat a excessive quantity of sure vitamins, considered one of these being beta-carotene,” mentioned Ware. Beta-carotene might also assist bronchial asthma victims scale back their signs. A examine from the Annals of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology discovered that folks with exercise-induced bronchial asthma didn’t develop signs throughout a seven-minute intense train session after consuming 64 mg of beta-carotene for one week. “Many individuals routinely consider orange fruit and veggies when considering of beta-carotene, however spinach can also be a wonderful supply,” mentioned Ware. 

Spinach’s magnesium content material might also be good for bronchial asthma victims. Magnesium may be an efficient emergency therapy for bronchial asthma assaults. However a literature review of research involving magnesium and bronchial asthma discovered that solely intravenous magnesium is conclusively useful; oral or vaporized magnesium’s effectiveness is unclear. 


“Spinach accommodates a strong antioxidant often called alpha-lipoic acid, which has been proven to decrease blood sugar ranges and enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce peripheral neuropathy [weakness or numbness in the hands or feet] in sufferers with diabetes,” mentioned Ware. 

The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that a lot of the analysis has been completed with intravaneous alpha-lipoic acid, nevertheless, so it’s much less clear that consuming the antioxidant by mouth has the identical outcomes. A examine revealed in Diabetes Care discovered that consuming 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid by mouth each day for 5 weeks improved neuropathic signs, reminiscent of stabbing and burning ache, numbness in ft and paresthesia (a tingling or itching sensation), greater than a placebo. 

Coronary heart

Ware famous that spinach’s potassium ranges are heart-healthy. “Excessive potassium intakes are related to a decreased danger of stroke, decrease blood stress, decrease danger of demise from coronary heart illness.” 

Potassium is an important a part of coronary heart well being. Many research have linked it with decrease blood stress as a result of it promotes vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels). One examine of 12,000 adults, revealed in Today’s Dietician, confirmed that those that consumed 4,069 mg of potassium every day lowered their danger of heart problems and ischemic coronary heart illness (characterised by decreased blood stream to the center) by 37 % and 49 %, respectively, in comparison with those that took 1,793 mg per day. 

Spinach’s astronomical ranges of vitamin Okay are additionally related to coronary heart well being and blood clotting. In line with the Linus Pauling Institute, vitamin Okay is an important consider blood clotting, and lack of it may well trigger hemorrhages. There are additionally ideas that vitamin Okay may scale back the chance of coronary heart illness as a result of with out it, mechanisms that cease the formation of blood vessel calcification could change into inactive. Research are nonetheless inconclusive, nevertheless, and one evaluate of them, revealed in Advances in Nutrition, advised that future analysis ought to focus particularly on vitamin-Okay poor sufferers. 

Being pregnant

The essentiality of folic acid (also called folate) throughout pregnancy is well-documented. Folic acid may also help forestall neural tube defects — particularly spina bifida and anencephaly — that happen early in being pregnant. 

Because it’s exhausting for girls to get sufficient folic acid from meals alone, the Centers for Disease Control recommends taking 400 mcg if you are pregnant or may change into pregnant. However spinach may also assist enhance your folic acid consumption, with 66 % of your every day (pre-pregnancy) folate wants per cooked cup. 


Spinach is an efficient supply of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, that are related to serving to to forestall age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. In line with The Scripps Research Institute, research have proven that those that ate spinach thrice per week had a 43 % decrease danger of growing macular degeneration. 

Dangers of consuming spinach

“Immediately growing your consumption of spinach might be dangerous in case you are taking blood thinners reminiscent of Coumadin (warfarin),” mentioned Ware. “It will be significant that you just preserve a constant consumption of meals containing vitamin Okay (like spinach), which play a big function in blood clotting.”

Spinach ranks quantity two on the Environmental Working Group’s 2021 Dirty Dozen checklist. Meaning it might be uncovered to excessive ranges of pesticides. If attainable, you can purchase natural spinach, however make sure you wash it completely no matter what sort it’s. 

“In case your kidneys should not totally practical, consuming an excessive amount of potassium might trigger an extra quantity of potassium within the blood and even be deadly,” mentioned Ware. Spinach additionally accommodates oxalates, which may be dangerous to these with kidney or gallbladder issues. Extreme accumulation of oxalates can crystalize and trigger issues, in keeping with World’s Healthiest Meals.

Eat extra spinach!

Ware offered some tips about tips on how to incorporate extra spinach into your weight-reduction plan:

  • Incorporate spinach into recipes you already make at dwelling. Throw just a few handfuls into your favourite pasta, soup or casserole.
  • Sautee spinach in a small quantity of additional virgin olive oil and season with floor black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Function a base for grilled rooster or salmon.
  • Add spinach to your wrap, sandwich or flatbread as an alternative of standard lettuce, or use it as a base on your salad.
  • Add spinach to any egg dish, like an omelet, scramble or quiche.
  • Throw a handful of spinach right into a smoothie or juice — it’s going to change the colour however not the style!

About that sailor man…

Popeye the Sailor Synthetic his debut in 1929 in a comic book strip known as “Thimble Theatre” and jumped to animated cartoons in 1933. In line with Comics Kingdom, he was a “good man underdog with bulging forearms, a imply uppercut and a penchant for canned spinach.”

Popeye’s love for spinach turned a typical plot gadget — popping open a can usually gave him super-strength. Spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33 % enhance in U.S. spinach consumption and saving the spinach trade within the Nineteen Thirties, in keeping with Comics Kingdom.

In 1937, Crystal Metropolis, Texas, a spinach-growing city, erected a statue to honor Popeye and his creator, E.C. Segar, for his or her constructive affect on America’s consuming habits, making Popeye the primary cartoon character ever immortalized in public sculpture.

Some sources declare that the explanation Segar selected spinach because the supply of Popeye’s energy was as a consequence of an error in an 1870 examine that measured the vegetable’s iron content material. The scientist who performed the analysis is claimed to have misplaced a decimal level, giving spinach ten instances the quantity of iron it really has. Nonetheless, creator Mike Sutton says this story is a fable, and that spinach was chosen for its vitamin A content material.

Further sources

Check out this helpful booklet from the College of the District of Columbia, What’s So Great About Spinach?, plus end up a tasty recipe for cooking with spinach at BBC Good Food.



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