Knowing the importance of adding Spinach to your diet

We all know spinach is good for us. The nutrition in spinach is almost a cliché. Images of Popeye and mothers forcing children to eat steamed spinach are part of our culture. We have come a long way in understanding the health benefits of spinach. 

There is more to spinach than the distasteful canned spinach so many people were forced to eat as children. Fresh spinach is now available just at any grocery store. Spinach is great raw. Spinach salads are on restaurant menus all over. And the spinach sautee is now a restaurant staple. 

But how much do we know about spinach? Beyond the iron boost we get from spinach, what are the health benefits does spinach provide? Like any leafy green, there are numerous health benefits of spinach. 

And there is more to simple spinach than we may realize. What is spinach? What are the health benefits of spinach? And what are the best ways to consume spinach? This guide will give you basic information on spinach and all its health benefits. 

What is Spinach?

The scientific name for spinach is Spinacia oleracea. It is a leafy flowering green plant. Originally, spinach was native to central and western Asia. Spinach is in the Amaranth family which includes several species that produce edible seeds and ornamental plants. 

Spinach is an annual plant. It typically grows to about 1 foot. Spinach can be grown in temperate regions and can even be cultivated through the winter in some climates. Spinach is known to contain high concentrations of several important vitamins and minerals. 

Spinach nutrition facts

The flowing nutrition facts are from the United States Department of Agriculture

One cup of raw spinach contains:

  • calories
  • 0.86 grams (g) of protein
  • 30 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 0.81 g of iron
  • 24 mg of magnesium
  • 167 mg of potassium
  • 2,813 international units (IU) of Vitamin A
  • 58 micrograms of folate

Spinach also contains vitamin K, fiber, phosphorus, and thiamine. Most of the calories in spinach come from protein and carbohydrates.


Iron deficiency can lead to serious health problems including a lack of energy. Spinach is one of the best sources of dietary iron. 


One cup of spinach contains about 250 mg of calcium. However, spinach contains compounds called oxalates that inhibit the absorption of calcium. 


Spinach is one of the best sources of dietary magnesium. The magnesium in spinach helps boost the immune system, provides energy, and improves muscle and nerve function. Magnesium is an essential mineral for hundreds of biochemical functions in the body. 

Health benefits of spinach

There are reasons why spinach is known as a superfood. The health benefits of spinach are not only plentiful, the kinds of health benefits we get from spinach are essential for our health. 

Oxidative stress

Free radicals are one of the primary toxins that can accumulate in the body. Free radicals are chemical compounds that are produced during normal metabolism. But these free radicals cause oxidative stress in the body which can lead to accelerated aging and can even increase your risk of cancer. 

The antioxidants in spinach bind with these free radicals and remove them from the body. Spinach can reduce your risk of conditions linked to oxidative stress.  

Healthy eyes

Spinach contains high concentrations of zeaxanthin and lutein. These are compounds called carotenoids and produce the color in some vegetables. These compounds are also great for eye health. 

The human eye contains large quantities of these compounds and they protect the eyes from the damage from sunlight. Some studies have found that zeaxanthin and lutein can help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, two conditions that lead to blindness. 

Prevent cancer

Spinach contains two important compounds that can slow the growth of cancer. MGDG and SQDG have been shown to slow the growth of tumors. Researchers believe the function of these two compounds can potentially stop the development of cancerous tumors. 

Several studies have linked spinach consumption with a reduced risk of both prostate and breast cancers. 

In addition to these important compounds for fighting cancer, the large concentrations of antioxidants naturally found in spinach also help reduce your risk of cancer. 

Healthy blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious problem and leads to heart disease, among other conditions. Spinach contains high concentrations of nitrates. These naturally occurring chemicals help reduce blood pressure levels and can prevent the development of high blood pressure. 

Healthy blood clotting

Spinach contains high levels of vitamin K which is a necessary nutrient for blood clotting functions. Especially for people who have problems with blood clotting, spinach can be extremely beneficial. 

Bone health

Doctors know that vitamin K deficiency is linked to a high risk of bone fractures. Vitamin K acts as a modifier of the bone matrix which improves the absorption of calcium. Since spinach is loaded with vitamin K, it is naturally good for bone health.  

Healthy skin and hair

Spinach has high concentrations of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps regulate the production of oil in the skin, pores, and hair follicles. 

If these oils buildup, they can lead to acne. The vitamin A in spinach can help prevent these types of acne problems. Since spinach helps regulate oils on the skin, it also makes for healthy hair. 

Spinach and other leafy greens are also high in vitamin C which contributes to the production of collagen. This is a natural compound that provides structure to the hair. Consuming spinach can lead to healthier hair.  

Types of spinach

Savoy spinach

Types of spinach. Also called curly-leaf spinach, savoy spinach is known for its thick green curly leaves. It is crunchy when eaten raw. Savoy spinach is valued for its rich flavor and texture. 

Regiment spinach

This is a hybrid variety of spinach. Regiment spinach has thick broad leaves. It is cultivated primarily during the spring and fall. Regiment spinach grows fast, reaching maturity in 37 days. Regiment spinach has a strong flavor and is one of the best varieties for cooking since it retains its rich flavor even after steaming. 

Semi-savoy spinach

This is similar to savoy spinach. It has the same crisp flavor when eaten raw. It is less curly and easier to handle in the kitchen. This is one of the ideal varieties of spinach for growing at home. Semi-savoy spinach is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and E. 

There are also several varieties of heirloom spinach that include: 


This variety has thick, dark-green leaves. It is more delicate than savoy spinach. Tyee spinach is great raw or cooked. IT can be cultivated in the fall and will last into colder months. 


This is one of the oldest varieties of spinach. Bloomsdale spinach has long, curly, and dark-green leaves. Bloomsdale spinach can be cultivated in spring and summer, and you can cut the baby leaves when they are about two inches long. 


This is the so-called baby-leaf spinach. It is a soft green-leafed variety. Catalina is resistant to heat and can be grown through the summer. It gets its name from the Catalina islands which allegedly provide the ideal climate for cultivating this variety of spinach. 


This is a resilient hybrid variety of spinach. Teton spinach has tender leaves that grow quickly. Since Teton is resistant to heat it can be planted early and will grow through spring and into late summer. Teton spinach is rich in vitamins A, C, and B-complex. 

Smooth leaf or flat-leaf spinach. This variety bears a broad flat leaf. It is easier to clean than other varieties and is frequently used for salads and other raw preparations. Smooth leaf spinach will also store for longer periods than other varieties of spinach, It is great for maintaining healthy bones, eye health, and preventing heart disease. 

How to consume spinach 

Spinach is extremely versatile when it comes to using it in the kitchen. Raw, cooked, mixed with other foods—you can consume spinach in a variety of ways and still get the healthy benefits of spinach. 


Many consider raw spinach the best way to consume spinach. It is great in salads. Make raw spinach salads with nuts and fresh cheeses. You can add fruit for added flavor and nutrition. 


Another great way to consume raw spinach is by adding it to smoothies. Simply put a handful of fresh raw spinach in with your regular fruits, yogurt, and nut milk. The spinach will mix in beautifully. You will get all the nutrition and health benefits of spinach and it will add a beautiful green hue to your smoothie. Research shows that blending fresh raw spinach into smoothies is the healthiest way to consume spinach. 


Spinach is a hardy plant. It works well in sautees. One of the great advantages of sauteing as a cooking method is it quickly cooks the food and locks in much of the nutritional value that can be lost in steaming. 

You can also add spinach to fresh pasta. Spinach lasagna is a popular favorite. Simply layer fresh spinach leaves in your lasagna for great flavor and all the health benefits of spinach. 

Spinach side effects

As a natural food, spinach has no real side effects. Some potential problems can come with spinach that comes when there are other health issues present. 

Kidney stones

People who are prone to developing kidney stones should be careful with how much spinach they consume. Kidney stones are caused by a buildup of acids and minerals in the kidneys. The most common type of kidney stones is made of calcium oxalate. Spinach is high in both calcium and oxalate which can easily lead to kidney stones, especially in people who are prone to them. 

Blood clotting

Since spinach is high in vitamin K it is great for helping with the natural processes of blood clotting. However, for people who take blood-thinning medications, the excess vitamin K in spinach can interfere with these medications. People who take blood-thinning medications like warfarin should consult their doctor about how much spinach they should consume.  

Spinach FAQS

What is spinach? 

The scientific name for spinach is Spinacia oleracea. It is a leafy flowering green plant. Originally, spinach was native to central and western Asia. Spinach is in the Amaranth family which includes several species that produce edible seeds and ornamental plants. 

Does spinach have nutritional value?

Spinach has high concentrations of iron, calcium, and magnesium. It is also high in vitamins A, C, E, and K. 

What are the health benefits of spinach? 

Spinach is loaded with antioxidants. It can help fight cancer. Spinach is also great for your eye health and can help keep blood pressure healthy. 

What is the best way to consume spinach?

Researchers found that the healthiest way to consume spinach is by putting raw spinach into a healthy smoothie. But you can eat spinach raw in salads or cooked in a variety of ways and still derive tremendous benefit from consuming spinach. 

Are there any downsides to consuming spinach? 

People who are prone to kidney stones and people who take blood-thinning medications should limit the amount of spinach they consume.   


Spinach is considered a superfood. What we mean by this is that spinach is one of those foods that by itself contains so many health benefits and is so loaded with nutrition that it appears to do miracles. 

Spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals. This alone provides massive health benefits simply due to the nutritional value of spinach. But spinach also contains chemical compounds that work other miracles. 

Everything from healthy hair to fighting cancer can be derived from eating spinach. Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about spinach is that we can get all these tremendous health benefits from simple raw spinach. 

We have come a long way since Popeye’s can of spinach in the cartoons. Spinach is now a staple in restaurants and on tables all over. Spinach tastes great and it does wonders for your body. 


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