Dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, are beneficial for skin, hair, and bone health. They also provide protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals.

The possible health benefits of consuming spinach include improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering the risk of cancer, and improving bone health. Additionally, this vegetable provides minerals and vitamins that can confer a range of benefits.

Fast facts on spinach include:

  • A 100-gram (g) serving of spinach contains 28.1 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, 34% of a person’s daily recommended amount.
  • Spinach also contains iron, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium.
  • Different cooking methods can change the nutritional content of spinach.

This article explores the nutrition contained in spinach, how it can benefit the body, and a range of flavorsome ways to include it in the diet.

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One cup of raw spinach contains:

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

Iron

Spinach is a nutritious and plant-based source of iron, a mineral that is crucial in transporting oxygen in the blood. Iron is also important for maintaining healthy pregnancies, supporting the immune system, and aiding digestive processes.

A person can increase their body’s iron absorption from plant-based products by consuming them alongside foods rich in vitamin C.

Learn more about iron.

Calcium

Spinach contains approximately 30 mg of calcium per cup.

However, the body absorbs this less easily than dairy sources of calcium. Spinach also has a high oxalate content, which binds to calcium and makes it difficult for our bodies to use.

Magnesium

One cup of spinach contains 24 mg of magnesium.

Magnesium is necessary for energy metabolism, maintaining muscle and nerve function, regular heart rhythm, a healthy immune system, and maintaining blood pressure. Magnesium also plays a part in numerous biochemical reactions in the body.

Plant compounds

Spinach contains many important plant compounds, including:

  • lutein
  • kaempferol
  • nitrates
  • quercetin
  • zeaxanthin

These can play important roles in the body, from maintaining eye health to reducing inflammation.

Spinach contains many vitamins, minerals, and compounds that may have various health benefits.

Diabetes management

Spinach contains an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which studies suggest lowers glucose levels, increases insulin sensitivity, and prevents oxidative, stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

Learn more about diets for diabetes

Cancer prevention

Spinach and other green vegetables contain chlorophyll, a pigment that gives plants their green color.

Research suggests chlorophyll may have anticancer properties and that people who eat diets rich in green vegetables may have a lower incidence of developing cancer.

Discover the other health benefits of chlorophyll.

Asthma management

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the severity of asthma symptoms and lessen the risk of attacks.

Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene, may all assist lung function, and spinach contains all three.

Learn more about asthma and diet.

Lowering blood pressure

Due to its high potassium content, spinach may help reduce or manage high blood pressure.

Potassium can help reduce the effects of sodium in the body. Additionally, a low potassium intake might be as potent a risk factor for developing high blood pressure as a high sodium intake.

Discover 15 foods that help lower blood pressure.

Bone health

Scientists have found a link between low intakes of vitamin K and a higher risk of bone fracture.

Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health. It acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption, and may reduce the amount of calcium that leaves the body in urine.

Learn more about vitamin K deficiency and its risks.

Promotes digestive regularity

Spinach is high in fiber and water, both of which help prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.

Learn more about foods that promote regular digestive function.

Healthy skin and hair

Spinach features large quantities of vitamin A, which moderates oil production in the skin pores and hair follicles to moisturize the skin and hair. A buildup of this oil can lead to acne. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.

Spinach and other leafy greens high in vitamin C are crucial for building and maintaining collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.

Additionally, iron deficiency is a common cause of hair loss, which a person can help prevent with a diet of sufficient iron-rich foods, such as spinach.

Discover the links between diet and hair loss.

Spinach is typically safe to consume as part of a well-rounded, nutritious diet. However, some people may benefit from limiting their intake of this vegetable.

Spinach is also rich in dietary oxalate. Consuming large amounts of oxalate in the diet can increase a person’s risk of developing kidney stones.

Additionally, if someone is taking blood-thinners, such as warfarin, it is important that they do not suddenly begin to change the amount of food they eat containing vitamin K, such as spinach. These rapid dietary changes can interfere with these medications.

Spinach is also high in potassium. In high concentrations, this substance can cause harmful effects to those with reduced kidney function.

Spinach is rich in iron, vitamin C and E, potassium, and magnesium. As part of a nutritious diet, it can help support immune function, aid the digestive system, may even have anticancer properties.

However, certain individuals may need to eat this vegetable in moderation.

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