Spinach For Health – So Many Ways to Have a Good Thing | Home Cooking for Health

Spinach For Health – So Many Ways to Have a Good Thing

Fresh Spinach

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Spinach, one of the “super foods” out there. It is also probably one of the most known. Even Popeye became famous for eating his can of spinach and growing big and strong and able to defeat the bad guys to save Olive.

But what really is in spinach that makes it so healthy? Do you have to eat it raw to get all the benefits? These are all things that we will look at and more while you decide if you want to eat spinach for health.

Where it Comes From

Spinach is believed to originated in Persia, where it then made its way East to India and China around 674 AD. Then its spread even farther and made its way into Sicily and the Mediterranean in 847 AD. It continued its spread through Europe and eventually made its way into France and England in the 14th century.

One of the reasons that spinach spread so far and so fast was because of many reasons. First it is an early spring crop. Before refrigeration, foods had to be eaten relatively soon after being picked and harvested. Fresh fruits and vegetables didn’t store well for long periods and went rotten.

In the early months of spring right after winter, not many crops are available to be harvested. Spinach was an exception and grace many a table at this time of year when other crops were still growing. It is a fast growing crop and is easy to cultivate.

Why We Eat It

Fresh Spinach

Raw spinach consists of 91% water, 4% carbohydrates, 3% protein and trace amounts of fat. In a single serving of spinach (100g or 3.5 oz), you can expect to find 460% Vitamin K, 59% Vitamin A, 52% Beta Carotene, 49% B9, 34% Vitamin C, 16% B2, 15% B6, 13% Vitamin E, 7% B1, and 5% B3 of your recommended daily intake of vitamins.

It also contains 43% Manganese, 22% Magnesium, 21% Iron, 12% Potassium, 10% Calcium, 7% Phosphorus, 6% Zinc, and 5% Sodium. All these percentages are based on consumption of a 2000 calorie a day diet.

Considering it has all of that in just one serving, no wonder it is called a super food!

Raw vs Cooked – The Great Debate

The great debate; whether to eat your health foods raw or cooked. A lot of people think that raw is the way to go. The food is in its most natural state and will be best for your body.

On the other hand, if you cook food, it can release bonds in the food that makes it easier to digest and therefore easier to absorb the nutrients that are in the food. The main downside to cooking food is that some nutrients get destroyed when exposed to heat, or cooked.

Unfortunately the only vitamins that aren’t destroyed by heat are Vitamins B2, B7, and D. The minerals are not destroyed by cooking as they are elements.

So depending on what you are adding the spinach to your diet for will dictate if you can or shouldn’t cook the spinach. If you want the vitamin boosts, then you are going to want to eat the spinach raw. If you are just going for the minerals then it is alright to cook the spinach.

An important thing to keep in mind is that it is not absolute when you cook stuff. The more you cook the food the more of the nutrients will be destroyed. Conversely, the less you cook the food, the more of the nutrients will be retained in the food. Unfortunately there is no real way to calculate how much cooking destroys how much nutrients.

I prefer to look at as more of and ‘all or nothing’ type of deal. If you want to vitamins, don’t cook the spinach. If you are looking only for the minerals from the spinach, go ahead and cook it if you want to.

Recipes to Tantalize Your Taste Buds

Spinach on Toast

Simple Spinach Sautee

  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat up a saute pan on medium-high until pan is hot.
  2. Add the oil and garlic. Stir continually to prevent burning the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach and continue to move the spinach around the pan. (Spinach will wilt in pan as it heats up)
  4. When spinach is all wilted and heated through, take off heat and seasons with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy!



Spinach Smoothie

Spinach Smoothie

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 apple
  • 2 cups fruit juice(your preference)
  • 1-2 tsp honey to taste(omit if desired)
  1. Peel cucumber and apple and wash spinach.
  2. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add more liquid if needed (depends on desired consistency)
  4. Enjoy!

Spinach of Deliciousness

Spinach is a wonderfully diverse and healthy ‘super food’ that you can easily add you any meal, even dessert! It packs a huge punch of vitamins and nutrients that are good for your health every day. I try to include it in a meal some way at least every other day so that I can have the benefits of all the nutrients spinach has to offer.

As always, please consult your doctor before changing or starting any new diet plan or menu change. Your doctor should always be included to help you get the most of what you want to accomplish and to make sure no changes are dangerous or interfere with current treatments.

I would love to hear from you! Any questions or comments are welcome, and I would love to hear how you include spinach in your meals 🙂

Suggested Resources & Reading




    I just mentioned spinach in one of my posts today! I made a kale salad the other day with arugula and man I wish I used spinach instead! I like kale cooked, but raw? Bleck! No thanks! Spinach is so much more versatile and easy on the palate. I could eat a spinach salad for days! I love the quick sauteed spinach recipe you provided. I do mine similarly except add a knob of butter:p Thank you!


      Angela K

      Hello Jennifer!
      I love kale but yes, i prefer to cook or juice mine. Otherwise it is just so fibrous and off-putting. I do love spinach, and try to include it in one of my meals each day.
      Yes butter is good when cooking spinach, but that also adds a good deal of saturated fat to the dish that is easily avoided 🙂



    I agree with you on the nutritional value of spinach as good source of important vitamins and minerals. When I can I use cut frozen spinach to make spinach cheese pie which taste so good. I would like to try the spinach smoothie looks healthy.

    My question for you is do you know of any preservative in spinach that could cause inflammation of the joints because judging from the natural content of the vegetable not seems to be responsible for that but my husband said each time he eats spinach he feels joint pain afterwards.


      Angela K

      Hello Giano!
      I highly encourage you to try the smoothie, it does taste very delicious.

      As far as preservatives in spinach, you would need to look at the ingredients that are on your package of spinach. Spinach itself is one of the top anti-inflammatory vegetables out there. Perhaps take a look at what else is being served with the spinach if the package is just spinach or you are using a fresh bunch. Foods high in sugar, salt, carbs, saturated fats and gluten as well as alcohol can cause an inflammatory response in the body. If spinach is being served with any of those it could be seen as it’s the spinach when in reality it isn’t.

      I hope this helps 🙂



    I love how versatile spinach is. I usually purchase a large quantity at a time and start eating it raw. If I don’t eat it all within a few days, I cook the rest. It shrinks so much that I easily eat the whole batch and then there’s no waste.


      Angela K

      Excellent to hear Theresa!

      I love the versatility of spinach as well, and the many forms that you can buy it, store it, and use it. Make sure that when you are purchasing it in bulk, that you rinse it well. Spinach is grown in a very sandy soil, and the best way to wash them is to put a bunch in a water bath and let the sand sink to the bottom. Take the spinach out and drain water. repeat till water no longer has dirt 🙂



    Hi, do you think it is better to steam spinach rather than boiling. Do you think that would retain more vitamins and minerals? One of my favourite recipes is Spinach and Feta Pie made with filo pastry….yummy. Great article, Im definitely going to try the smoothie.


      Angela K

      Hey there Bev,

      For retaining vitamins and minerals yes steaming is better. When you boil vegetables some of the nutrients are leeched into the water and hence are no longer in the food. To prevent this, steaming any vegetable is recommended over boiling.

      Your pie sounds amazingly delicious! I love phyllo(filo) dough for all the many wonderful and delicious foods that it can make. 🙂


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