Spinach is one of the most popular dark leafy green vegetables used in several dishes. It has an impressive nutrient profile and is very versatile in the kitchen.
Because of its nutrient content, spinach can be beneficial in supporting health overall. Spinach was Popeye’s favorite for valid reasons. Even though you can’t expect your arms to grow four times the size, you can expect some impressive health benefits from the leafy green. Dark leafy greens are an excellent addition to most diets due to the plethora of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants they provide (1).
Spinach is a light vegetable that most people can stomach easier than other varieties. It does not overpower foods in the same way a dark leafy greens like kale may, so it can be a lot less intimidating to cook. If you have never cooked spinach, it does decrease tremendously in size, so be aware that you may need a whole bunch more if you decide to throw it into the skillet instead of munching on some raw in a salad.
Did You Know?:The green pigment in spinach was used as ink for artwork during medieval times.
Table of Contents
- Health Benefits of Spinach
- Potential Risks of Eating Spinach
Health Benefits of Spinach
Check out the many health benefits of spinach below. Plus, read on to learn about the potential risks and who should avoid eating spinach regularly.
1. It May Help Promote Hair Growth
Naturally high in vitamins A, E, folate, and even iron make spinach one of the best foods you can eat to promote healthy hair growth.
Vitamin A is necessary for all cellular growth, including your head of hair. Vitamin A also helps promote sebum in the scalp, which helps to decrease dryness and grow hair follicles (2).
All vitamins listed above are essential to grow and maintain healthy, strong locks. Most people reach only for B vitamins like biotin when trying to grow their hair, but folate is also a crucial B vitamin to increase to promote hair growth. Maintaining a healthy B vitamin and overall nutrient profile is essential to keep hair healthy. Folic acid also comes with an added hair benefit. It can even delay the risk of developing gray hair (3, 4).
Summary:Spinach has been noted as a great source of several vitamins and nutrients that are known for promoting hair growth and keeping hair healthy.
2. It May Burn Belly Fat
Obesity is one of the growing chronic diseases in the United States. There are many factors to weight loss, especially regarding belly fat in general. Excess belly fat, also known as visceral fat, increases the risk of many common chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and more (5, 6).
Eating the right foods can help keep your weight in a healthy range and prevent chronic disease. Spinach is one of the top nutrient-dense foods to help burn belly fat because it is a low calorie and high fiber leafy green. It can even act as an appetite suppressant due to its high nutrient profile (7). Fiber is an essential component for weight loss maintenance. Also, adding protein and healthy fats is necessary.
Adding spinach to your diet may be an easy way to get more fiber and lose fat at the same time. While everyone is different in what works for their body, keeping a versatile diet with vegetables is a great way to ensure more nutrients and sustainable results.
Summary:Because spinach is noted as one of the top nutrient-dense foods, it is a great choice food that may promote weight loss.
3. It May Improve Heart Health
The heart requires many nutrients and minerals to keep blood pressure levels healthy, prevent heart disease and avoid other heart complications such as arrhythmias. There is good news, though. Spinach has all the nutrients and minerals the heart needs to thrive.
Spinach is high in antioxidants such as lutein and vitamin E, which are beneficial to keep the heart functioning well. It is also high in omega 3 fatty acids, more vitamins, and fiber. Omega 3 fatty acids are necessary for a healthy heart because they help reduce triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. Omega 3 fatty acids can also reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, which is a contributor to heart attacks and heart disease (8, 9).
High in the B vitamin folate, spinach is a powerhouse vegetable for heart health. Folate is one of the B vitamins necessary to keep artery walls running smoothly. It helps to break down homocysteine, an amino acid that can harm the inner wall of the arteries (10).
A varied diet full of healthy vegetables, fruits, and proteins is the best way to ensure a healthy heart for the long run. Lifestyle is also a crucial element to preventing heart disease later in life, so be sure to keep exercise up, too.
Summary:Some of the nutrients in spinach, like folate and omega-3 fatty acids, promote heart health and may reduce risk of heart disease.
4. It May Prevent Acid Reflux or GERD
Spinach can even help diminish one of the most common problems, acid reflux. If you have an extended or long-term case of acid reflux, it typically is referred to as GERD, another common health issue facing millions of people globally.
So why does spinach help with acid reflux and GERD? Spinach and other dark leafy greens are low in sugar and fat. Because of that and the many nutrients it provides, it can help minimize stomach acid secretions (11). Because spinach is an alkaline food, it helps to reduce acid buildup. Many factors may contribute to acid reflux or GERD, but diet is a primary indicator and the answer much of the time to keep it at bay.
See where you can sneak in some leafy greens, like spinach, to your meals throughout the day and start reaping the many health benefits.
Summary:Eating dark leafy greens like spinach can help with preventing the risk of acid reflux and GERD.
5. It May Improve Hormone Health
Spinach is not only a powerhouse vegetable for keeping a healthy weight, improving heart health, and improving digestion. It may even be a go-to vegetable for many hormonal flare-ups such as hormonal acne and even altered moods.
The main reason spinach can help with hormone health is because it is full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to fight free radicals in the body and reduce oxidative stress. This leafy green also helps to decrease inflammation that can cause excess estrogen. Spinach also includes phytoestrogens, compounds naturally found in plants that regulate hormones in the body (12).
With the right balance of hormones, common flare-ups like acne and altered moods can subside.
Summary:There are a high number of antioxidants in spinach, which have been noted to help reduce oxidative stress, decrease inflammation that can cause excess estrogen, and in turn may promote hormonal health.
6. It May Reduce Oxidative Stress and Prevent Cancer
The antioxidants in spinach reduce oxidative stress in the body. There are even more potential health benefits as well. Some research suggests eating more dark leafy greens like spinach can help to reduce the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer (13).
Spinach provides antioxidants and many vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin A, C, E, and K (14).
With cancer one of the most prominent diseases in the United States, it can’t hurt to include more leafy green vegetables like spinach in your diet to reap the many nutrient-dense benefits.
Summary:Studies have found that eating dark leafy greens like spinach may reduce the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer.
7. It May Improve Cognitive Function and Eye Health
Cognitive decline is one of the most common issues in the United States, but there are many ways to prevent it. While cognitive function and eye health may not seem related, they can be when it comes to spinach. That is because the antioxidant called lutein is abundant in spinach (15). It can be effective at improving cognitive function and enhancing eye health (16).
Spinach contains 8 milligrams of lutein per cup, so it can be a great option to support overall health (17). It can be helpful when related to cognitive function and eye health.
Spinach is also high in vitamin E, an essential nutrient for better brain and eye health. Adding more spinach to your diet can help to prevent common cognitive diseases and even keep your eyes healthy in the long run (18).
Summary:Spinach contains lutein and vitamin E, both of which may promote cognitive function and eye health. Adding spinach into your diet may help to prevent these things.
Potential Risks of Eating Spinach
Spinach can be a great addition to most diets, but there are some things to keep in mind with the regular consumption of spinach. High in vital nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins, spinach is a dark leafy green that is a great way to boost overall health, but there are some helpful facts to understand.
Some of the potential risks of eating spinach include:
- It May Lead to Kidney Stones: Spinach is high in oxalic acid, so too much of it can lead to kidney stone formation (19). However, if you eat spinach in moderation and don’t already have any history of kidney stones, this should not be a problem. For those prone to kidney stones, it may be best to opt for dark leafy greens instead of spinach most of the time.
- It May Interfere with the Absorption of Minerals: Too much oxalic acid can affect mineral absorption eventually (20). That would need to be in extremely high quantities. Too much of even a good thing can cause more harm than good.
- Potential Drug Interferences: Some medications may come with a warning to not consume dark leafy greens such as spinach because of the potential reaction with vitamin K (21).
Summary:Although spinach is part of an overall balanced diet, it may be a risk for some people who are at risk of kidney stones or who are on certain medications like Warfarin.
Spinach is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse vegetable high in tons of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin A, C, E, K, and antioxidants like lutein.
From enhancing heart health and boosting cognitive function to improving eye health and even regulating blood sugar, spinach can be a great addition to most diets. If you are having problems with kidney stones, be sure to limit your consumption of spinach.
Keeping a varied diet is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health, and spinach may be the next vegetable to change up your routine. How can you start adding more spinach to your diet today?