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Spinach nutrition facts

私人电影网Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is one of incredible green-leafy vegetable often recognized as one of the functional foods for its health benefiting nutritional, antioxidants and anti-cancer composition. Its tender, crispy, dark-green leaves are one of the favorite ingredients of chefs all around the world.

Botanically, it belongs to the Amaranthaceae family, and its scientific name: Spinacia oleracea.

私人电影网Spinacia plant grows to about 1 foot in height. Although it can be grown year round, its fresh greens are best available soon after the winter season from March through May in the Northern Hemisphere, and from September until November in the South of the equator.

spinach plant spinach in the field
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea). Spinach plant with broad green leaves.

At least, two varieties of spinach are cultivated for their edible leaves; Savoy type with dark-green crinkle (wrinkled) leaves and flat-leaf 私人电影网variety with smooth surfaced leaves.

Health Benefits of Spinach

  • Spinach is storehouse for many phytonutrients that have health promotion and disease prevention properties.

  • 私人电影网It is very low in calories and fats (100 g of raw leaves provide just 23 calories). Also, its leaves hold a good amount of soluble dietary fiber; no wonder why this leafy greens often recommended by dieticians in the cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs!

  • Fresh 100 g of spinach contains about 25% of daily intake of iron, one of the highest for any green leafy vegetables. Iron is an essential trace element required by the human body for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for an oxidation-reduction enzyme, cytochrome oxidase during the cellular metabolism.

  • Fresh leaves are a rich source of several vital antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-A, vitamin-C, and flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and β-carotene私人电影网. Together, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a healing role in aging and various disease processes.

  • Zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV light-filtering functions. It thus helps protect from "age-related macular related macular disease" (ARMD), especially in the older adults.

  • 私人电影网Further, vitamin-A is required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin and is essential for night vision. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids are also known to help the body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • Spinach leaves are an excellent source of vitamin-K. 100 g of fresh greens provides 402% of daily vitamin-K requirements. Vitamin-K plays a vital role in strengthening the bone mass by promoting osteoblastic activity in the bones. Additionally, it also has an established role in patients with Alzheimer's disease by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

  • This green leafy vegetable also contains good amounts of many B-complex vitamins such as vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin, folates, and niacin. Folates help prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.

  • 100 g of farm fresh spinach has 47% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C. Vitamin-C is a powerful antioxidant, which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.

  • Its leaves also contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. The human body uses manganese and copper as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells. Zinc is a co-factor for many enzymes that regulate growth and development, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.

  • It is also a small source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Regular consumption of spinach in the diet helps prevent osteoporosis (weakness of bones), iron-deficiency anemia私人电影网. Moreover, its soft leaves are believed to protect the human body from cardiovascular diseases and cancers of colon and prostate.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients: Spinach nutrition (Spinacia oleracea), raw, values per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 23 Kcal 1%
Carbohydrates 3.63 g 3%
Protein 2.86 g 5%
Total Fat 0.39 g 1.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g 6%
Folates 194 µg 48.5%
Niacin 0.724 mg 4.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.065 mg 1%
Pyridoxine 0.195 mg 15%
Riboflavin 0.189 mg 14.5%
Thiamin 0.078 mg 6.5%
Vitamin A 9377 IU 312%
Vitamin C 28.1 mg 47%
Vitamin E 2.03 mg 13.5%
Vitamin K 482.9 µg 402%
Sodium 79 mg 5%
Potassium 558 mg 12%
Calcium 99 mg 10%
Copper 0.130 mg 14%
Iron 2.71 mg 34%
Magnesium 79 mg 20%
Manganese 0.897 mg 39%
Zinc 0.53 mg 5%
Carotene-ß 5,626 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 12,198 µg --

Selection and storage

私人电影网Spinach is best available during the winter season. In the markets, buy fresh leaves featuring dark-green color, vitality, and crispiness. Avoid those with dull/sunken leaves, yellow discoloration, and spots.

私人电影网Once at home, wash them thoroughly in clean running water, and rinse in salt water for about 30 minutes in order to remove dirt and any insecticide residues.

私人电影网Although it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, fresh leaves should be eaten at the earliest in order to get maximum nutrition benefits.

Preparation and serving methods

Wash leaves in cold water before using in cooking. Gently pat them dry using a tissue or soft cloth. Trim away tough stems. Raw leaves can be either chopped or used as they are in a variety of recipes.

spinach rice
Spinach-rice with chickpeas and tofu.
Photo courtesy:
palak paneer
Palak-paneer. Thoroughly cooked spinach leaves mashed, sauteed and mixed with cheese cubes.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Fresh, tender spinach leaves (baby spinach) can be eaten raw either in salad and vegetable burgers or as juice. Antioxidant properties may decrease significantly on steaming, frying and boiling for longer periods.

  • Along with other vegetables, its leaves are used in the preparation of noodles, pie, pasta, pilaf (pulao), and soups as well as in the preparation of baby foods.

  • Prepare Mediterranean-style spinach souffle私人电影网, casserole, lasagna, quiche, spinach-filled tortellini, etc.

  • In India and Pakistan, where it is popular as "palak," spinach features in a variety of delicious cooking such as "palak paneer" (Indian cottage cheese), aloo-palak (with potato私人电影网), fried rice, chicken and meat preparations.

  • In India and Bangladesh spinach is mixed with other seasonal greens like goosefoot (Chenopodium album), fenugreek, mustard greens, Malabar spinach私人电影网 (Basella alba), etc., to prepare "saag" which is eaten with unleavened bread (roti), and rice.

Safety profile

  • Reheating of spinach leftover may cause conversion of nitrates into nitrites and nitrosamines by certain bacteria that thrive on pre-prepared nitrate-rich foods such as spinach and many other green vegetables. These harmful compounds may be bad for health, especially in children.

  • 私人电影网Phytates and dietary fiber present in the leaves may interfere with the bioavailability of iron, calcium, and magnesium.

  • 私人电影网Because of its high vitamin-K content, patients taking anti-coagulants such as "warfarin" are encouraged to avoid spinach in their food since it interferes with drug metabolism.

  • Spinach contains oxalic acid, a naturally-occurring substance found in some vegetables, which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some people. Individuals with known oxalate urinary tract stones are advised to avoid eating certain vegetables belonging to Amaranthaceae and Brassica family. Adequate intake of water is therefore advised to maintain normal urine output.

  • It may also contain goitrogens, which may interfere with thyroid hormone production and can cause thyroxin hormone deficiency in individuals with thyroid dysfunction. (Medical disclaimer).

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