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8 Benefits of Spinach & 5 Tips for Preparation

Spinach is one of the oldest kinds of vegetable and it has grown to become a popular ingredient in many dishes. But why is it so good for you and what positive effects does eating it have on your health? Read this article to find out more about why spinach is so nutritious, as well as to discover some top tips on how best to add it to your diet.

It is not only healthy, but tasty too. The leafy green vegetable contains many valuable nutrients and should therefore be a regular feature in your diet. Here we have some tips for you on how to get the best out of spinach and benefit from the goodness it offers.

Spinach: taste, calories and nutrition

Spinach: taste, calories and nutrition

Spinach is a superfood that has an array of health benefits. Not only is it versatile, but it is also delicious and very healthy to boot.

Below you can find out what makes spinach so good for you, what it tastes like, and what added value this leafy green vegetable has for your health.

Raw or cooked? Frozen or fresh?

You don’t necessarily have to cook spinach to reap its health benefits. The vegetable can be eaten raw, or you can even freeze it and consume it later. If you do want to eat it raw, we suggest seasoning it with a dressing made of vinegar and oil or yogurt to bring out its flavor. Eating raw spinach is good for you as it makes it easier for your body to get nutrients like niacin, riboflavin, and potassium.

You can also add fresh spinach to your salads or smoothies. If you prefer it cooked rather than raw, there are many different ways it can be prepared. It can be sautéed or braised with olive oil, baked in the oven or steamed in a pan. What’s more, cooked spinach actually contains more vitamin A.

Spinach leaves can be quickly blanched (scalded in hot water) and, with the right seasoning, taste especially good in pasta or soups.

Of course, not everyone has the time or inclination to go to the trouble of preparing fresh spinach, but don’t worry: it’s just as healthy frozen as it is fresh. Frozen spinach retains its nutritional value and usually contains more vitamins than its fresh counterpart. Plus, it’s readily available and requires little effort.

Spinach: what does it taste like?

Raw spinach has a mild, slightly sweet taste, while the taste of cooked spinach is a little more robust and acidic, and many people are put off by its tartness. However, once you learn how to use the versatile, leafy green vegetable properly, you’ll be able to reap its health benefits and enjoy its taste in many different dishes.

Types of spinach

Baby spinach

Spinach can come without or without its stem depending on whether it has been harvested by machine (with its stem) or by hand (without its stem).

Savoy spinach has crisp, wrinkled, curly leaves, while flat-leaf spinach has smooth, unwrinkled, spade-shaped leaves. Semi-savoy spinach has a similar texture to savoy spinach, but is less wrinkled in appearance.

Baby spinach is harvested earlier than mature spinach and is a great option for salads because of its sweeter flavor and tender texture, and the leaves are much smaller too.

Calories in spinach

Calories in spinach

Spinach is one of the lowest-calorie vegetables around. A 100-gram serving of spinach contains only 23 calories. That’s less than a quarter of the calories in a similar amount of green leaf lettuce.

Other green vegetables are also very low in calories, but spinach has many more benefits than just its low calorie count as it is also very rich in nutrients.
Check out the table below to find out more about the nutrients in spinach.

Nutritional table for 100 grams of raw spinach

Below you can find the nutritional table for 100 grams of raw spinach. As you can see, spinach is full of important nutrients and healthy vitamins, so why not try out some new recipes with this green superfood today?

ComponentsAmount
Fats (total)0.4 g
Carbs (total)3.6 g
Dietary Fiber2.2 g
Sugar0.4 g
Protein2.9 g
Cholesterol0 mg
Vitamin A469.00 mcg
Vitamin C28.1 mg
Calcium99.00 mg
Iron2.71 mg
Magnesium(when cooked)
Sodium70 mg
Potassium558 mg

Is spinach good for you?

Is spinach good for you?

Spinach is a delicious, healthy vegetable that contains many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. It is rich in vitamin A, C and K, as well as folic acid, potassium and magnesium.

Spinach contains a lot of fiber and antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Spinach is also rich in iron and can help people suffering from anemia.

The benefits of spinach for men

The high amount of folic acid found in spinach can increase blood flow. Having a healthy amount of folic acid in the body, and thus a good blood flow, is essential for the male sex organ to work at its best.

Having too little folic acid in the blood can lead to erectile dysfunction, but this can be avoided through the consumption of spinach. Cooked spinach is especially recommended for this purpose, as it already covers 77% of a man’s daily requirement of folic acid. What’s more, spinach contains magnesium, which also helps with blood flow and can increase testosterone levels.

Spinach during pregnancy

Spinach during pregnancy

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is more important than ever during pregnancy. This includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. One of the best foods a pregnant woman can eat is spinach.

It is rich in nutrients, like calcium and vitamin C, and so it can help make sure that the mother and her baby get the goodness they need.

Eating spinach during pregnancy has a whole host of benefits. For example, it is rich in folic acid, which is important for both mother and child as it helps with cell division as well as with the production of red blood cells. It also helps prevent neural tube defects in the fetus.

There is also research showing that an increased intake of folic acid during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of birth defects. Therefore, it is highly recommended to take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day in the form of nutritional supplements or foods such as spinach.

Calcium is also an important component of spinach. Calcium is essential for building strong bones and teeth, both for the fetus in the womb and after birth. Getting enough calcium can also help prevent preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy).

So if you’re not getting enough calcium from other foods, you should definitely include this leafy green vegetable in your diet.

Finally, spinach also contains vitamin C, an antioxidant which can help the body fight off infection. Vitamin C also plays a role in the formation of the baby’s connective tissue and helps the body better absorb iron.

Something to note:
All in all, spinach is an excellent addition to any pregnant woman’s diet plan. It can be eaten in a salad or smoothie, or mixed with other fresh fruits and vegetables for a tasty snack. However, pregnant women should make sure to wash the vegetable thoroughly before consumption to get rid of any bacteria.

Spinach for weight loss

Spinach for weight loss

There are studies that suggest that eating four servings of vegetables a day instead of two can reduce the risk of weight gain by up to 82%.

As spinach has so few calories, it is very beneficial for losing weight. Its high fiber content aids digestion, regulates blood sugar levels and prevents constipation. Spinach, therefore, provides you with enough fiber whilst keeping the calories you consume under control. It makes you feel full and curbs your appetite too.

Add one cup of spinach to your daily meal plan and you’ll start to see the benefits in no time.

Find out more about whether sushi is also good for weight loss here.

The benefits of spinach for children

The benefits of spinach for children

Not all children like spinach. In fact, many can’t stand the taste and texture of it. If your child isn’t a fan, there are some tricks you can try out to make it more palatable for them.

First of all, try buying fresh or frozen spinach instead of canned or bagged as they have a much better taste and they’re also much healthier because they do not contain preservatives.

If you opt for fresh spinach, wash it thoroughly to make sure it doesn’t have any pesticides on. Then cook it for about three to five minutes until soft. If you’re using frozen spinach, simply cook it according to the directions on the package.

Another trick to make spinach taste palatable to your child is to mix it with other ingredients. For example, you can top it with tomato sauce and/or cheese, or mix it into a smoothie.

There are lots of options to try out – just play around a bit until you find the right one for your child!

Spinach: even good for dogs

Spinach: even good for dogs

It has long been known that various animal species eat spinach as part of their diet. For many animals, especially those who live in and around freshwater, spinach is an important part of their diet and many fish, reptiles and birds love the taste of the leafy vegetable.

It is especially common for various species of rodent mammals, such as hamsters and guinea pigs, to eat spinach, and rats and mice eat it regularly. The reason is quite simple: spinach contains many vitamins and minerals that are essential for animals to stay healthy.

Spinach, therefore, is an excellent addition to their standard diet. It also tastes good and is easy to find in their natural habitat.

Spinach is good for dogs too, and they can enjoy all the beneficial nutrients it contains. But beware: one of the biggest problems animals have with eating spinach is that it is very difficult to digest. Therefore, you should ensure that you only give fresh, organic spinach to your pets, and in moderation, so any digestive problems are avoided!

Spinach: the health benefits

Health benefits of spinach

Below you will find an overview of the various health benefits you can enjoy by consuming spinach. It’s clear to see why spinach enjoys its reputation as a super healthy vegetable!

Spinach as a source of antioxidants

Spinach contains many different antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful free radicals. These radicals are a type of unstable molecule formed during normal cellular metabolism and can lead to oxidative stress, which can, in turn, lead to a variety of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Antioxidants help the body fight this stress, reducing the risk of disease.

Benefits of spinach for your skin

Benefits of spinach for your skin

Thanks to the high amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, spinach is not just beneficial, but essential for your skin, as not only does it prevent acne, but its nutrients and minerals will make your skin glow.

In fact, spinach has natural anti-ageing properties: we have already learned that spinach is rich in antioxidants, which can help destroy free radicals and therefore prevent premature ageing.

As such, consuming healthy amounts of spinach can slow down the ageing processes in your cells.

Spinach can reduce the risk of cancer

A study has shown that regularly consuming spinach can reduce the risk of cancer, such as cancer of the colon, stomach and pancreas.

The nutrients found in spinach, such as folic acid, vitamin C and beta-carotene, can help fight cancer cells and therefore reduce your risk of contracting the illness.

Benefits of spinach for your hair

Benefits of spinach for your hair

One of the most common causes of hair loss is iron deficiency, especially among women. Vegetarians and vegans are often prone to having low iron levels too.

Consuming foods rich in iron, such as spinach, can counteract iron deficiency and the resulting hair loss, helping your hair grow faster and longer.

Benefits of spinach for your eyes

Vitamins A and C help to prevent what is known as AMD (age-related macular degeneration), a condition that affects your eyesight and therefore your ability to drive, read or recognize faces.

Since vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s even better for your eyesight if you combine spinach with fatty foods. You could, for example, cook a delicious omelet with spinach on the side.

Spinach can help prevent heart disease

Spinach can help prevent heart disease

Spinach is rich in nutrients such as folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene, all of which can help prevent heart disease. Folate, for example, helps to reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood, which can, in turn, lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Vitamin C is another nutrient in spinach that can help prevent heart disease by oxidizing harmful LDL cholesterol, protecting the arteries in doing so.

Spinach helps prevent diabetes

Diabetes is caused by elevated blood sugar levels and a study has shown that people who eat spinach on a regular basis are at a lower risk of contracting the condition.

This is probably due to the nutrients it contains, such as magnesium and alpha-lipoic acid, both of which can help regulate blood sugar levels.

Spinach can minimize problems with memory

Spinach can minimize problems with memory

Spinach is rich in nutrients such as vitamin K and folic acid, both of which are important for keeping your brain healthy. Vitamin K helps combat memory problems, and folic acid can help here too, as it is involved in the production of new cells within the brain.

Vitamin B, too, has a special role to play when it comes to memory: it helps synthesize and regulate neurotransmitters, combating cognitive decline.

A study on more than 200 women found that a diet rich in folate and vitamin B6, such as that found in spinach and other dark leafy greens, helped improve cognitive abilities and short-term memory.

Can spinach be bad for you?

Too much spinach can cause cramps

Surely you remember Popeye, the strong cartoon sailor man who only eats canned spinach and is seemingly invincible? But before you decide to eat spinach all the time because you want to become as strong as Popeye, please bear in mind that too much spinach can also have some negative side effects.

One of these is an increased risk of kidney stones. The high amount of oxalic acid in spinach can lead to the formation of calcium oxalate (insoluble salts) if you consume too much of the vegetable too often. This can result in kidney stones and also the presence of insoluble salts in your intestines can prevent your body from absorbing enough calcium.

What’s more, eating too much spinach can cause bloating and cramping, because your body needs time to digest it. This means that if you eat too much spinach too quickly, you may experience some pain as your body won’t have enough time for digestion.

Please also beware that spinach contains vitamin K which can put you at risk of blood clots when combined with certain types of medication.

So the fact of the matter is, it is possible to eat too much spinach and experience some adverse effects, but as long as you make an effort to have a healthy, varied diet, spinach is packed full of benefits for you.

Tips on how to prepare spinach

How to prepare spinach

Spinach is a healthy, versatile vegetable used in a wide variety of dishes. However, it is often prepared incorrectly, which not only makes it taste boring and bland, but also results in the loss of a lot of important nutrients.

Here we have five tips for you on how to prepare delicious spinach, guaranteed.

  1. Make sure not to overcook your spinach
    If you want to preserve all the flavor and nutrients of spinach, don’t overcook it. Three to five minutes are quite enough.
  2. Blanch your spinach
    Blanching involves briefly placing food in boiling water to give it a longer life. Blanching will soften spinach and give it a milder flavor. The best way of blanching spinach is to put it in boiling water for a minute or two.
  3. Use fresh or frozen spinach
    Fresh spinach is best, but frozen is also a good alternative. Both are widely available in stores and taste good too. However, you should note that frozen spinach usually has slightly fewer nutrients than when fresh.
  4. Season to taste
    You can season your spinach to taste, depending on your personal preferences, and salt, pepper or other spices can be used to help bring out its flavor even more.

Recipe ideas for spinach: what does it go with?

Spinach recipe ideas

Spinach makes a great pair with other vegetables, especially cabbage, and it’s common to cook it together with kale or add it to broccoli and carrots, both of which make a great combination.

If you’re looking for some more ideas on how to prepare spinach, we’ve put together a list of recommended dishes below. All of them are quick and easy to prepare and taste fantastic too.

  • Green pasta bake with rocket and Parmesan
    This pasta bake is perfect for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. The pasta is baked in the oven with a delicious sauce of rocket, cream and Parmesan – a taste sensation!
  • Rocket and spinach pizza
    This pizza is the perfect alternative for those who don’t fancy a traditional tomato sauce base. Instead, the pizza is topped with a sauce made from rocket and spinach and topped with Parmesan cheese.
  • Gnocchi with spinach and ricotta
    Gnocchi are small dumplings usually made from potatoes and flour. In this recipe, they are filled with spinach and ricotta and served in a delicious tomato sauce. Yum!
  • Linguine with asparagus and spinach
    This dish is perfect for spring. The linguine is served with fresh asparagus and spinach in a delicious creamy sauce.
  • Cannelloni with ricotta and spinach
    Cannelloni are rolls of pasta that are usually filled with ground meat or ricotta. In this recipe, they are filled with ricotta and spinach and served in a delicious tomato sauce – what could be better?
To sum up

With just a few simple ingredients, you can create a dish that is both incredibly delicious and very healthy in no time at all. And once you know how to cook spinach properly, it will taste great and all its nutrients will be preserved.

In conclusion, eating spinach doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience – with a little time and creativity, you can make many a delicious dish and do good for your health at the same time.

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