Yes, Spinach is Paleo!
Overview of Spinach
Spinach is a soft, green, leafy, flowering plant from the Amaranthaceae family that includes beets and quinoa. It is thought to have originated in ancient Persia several thousands of years ago and was introduced to other countries like India, China and Europe. To this day, dishes with spinach are known to be “Florentine” because Catherine de Medici, a queen of France born in Florence insisted to eat spinach at every meal.
There are three types of spinach. The first one is the savoy, one with dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. In the United States, it is sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets.
The second type of spinach is Flat or smooth-leaf spinach. It has broad and smooth leaves that are easier to clean compared to savoy. It is often grown for canned and frozen spinach.
Semi-savoy is the last type of spinach which is a hybrid with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as the savoy but not that difficult to clean. It is grown for fresh market and processing.
Health Benefits of Spinach
When we were kids, Popeye the Sailor Man is one of the all-time favorite cartoons that we loved to watch. We saw how Popeye consumed a lot of spinach to become strong and beat his enemy Bluto and save his wife Olive. Below is a list of benefits that one can get from eating spinach:
- Spinach is proven to be an excellent source of nutrients including vitamin B2, B6, C, E, folic acid, niacin, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium and zinc. It is also a good source of fiber and amino acids that help in building proteins in the body. Small amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids are also present in spinach.
- Vitamin K in spinach as well as vitamin A and calcium are good for bone health. Vitamin K plays an important role in keeping the bones healthy.
- The dark green color of the spinach leaves indicate high chlorophyll levels and carotenoids (beta-carotene) which can be converted by the human body to Vitamin A. Luthein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants have anti-cancer and anti-inflammation properties and are also important in for healthy eye sight, preventing, macular degeneration and cataracts are also abundant in spinach.
- 12 different flavonoids, (phytonutrients) are present in spinach which can help reduce inflammation and keeping the digestive system healthy. Spinach contains molecules called glycoglycerolipids that fend off inflammation attacking the lining of the digestive tract.
- Spinach when cooked can provide a good amount of iron in the body, which is a primary component in hemoglobin and has a vital role in energy production and metabolism.
- Spinach is one of the best sources of betaine, a nutrient like folate which regualates homocysteine levels in the body and maintains liver health.
- Spinach and other green-leafy vegetables are good combination with other meats as they reduce the absorption of carcinogen heterocyclic amines (HCAs) on meats when cooked on high heat.
- Peptides in spinach can help in lowering blood pressure. With the help of antioxidants, peptides aid in keeping the blood vessels well.
- All those antioxidants, vitamins and minerals present in spinach can help improve the skin giving it a glowing and radiant complexion.
But Doesn’t Spinach Have Oxalates?
Oxalates are antinutrients that bind with minerals making it difficult to absorb other important nutrients like iron and calcium. Oxalates are normally found in dark green colored-vegetables like spinach. High oxalate levels can cause certain digestive conditions.
For most people oxalates is not a problem especially those with healthy gut. But other conditions can elevate calcium or oxalate in the urine that may increase the risk of kidney stones. Most kidney stones have oxalates.
Yes, spinach contains oxalates but it doesn’t mean you can no longer eat it. Cooking might help in reducing oxalic acids in spinach. But moderation is always a key in maintaining balance in the body’s nutrients. Including lots of other fruits and vegetables especially those containing vitamins C and magnesium, together with spinach can help in balancing the vitamins and minerals in the body.
What Experts Say About Spinach.. Is It Paleo?
“But what about the muscles? Well, the reality is, spinach probably isn’t going to give you super human strength (or gargantuan muscles ala Popeye), but when it conveys this many other health benefits, perhaps it makes sense to keep on eating it and plan on outliving – as opposed to straight pulverizing – Bluto”. – Mark Sisson
Click here to see what other vegetables are Paleo
All you ever wanted to know about Spinach and Paleo
Mark’s Daily Apple. Why You Should Eat Leafy Greens
Mark’s Daily Apple. Smart Fuel: Spinach
Robb Wolf. Fear and Loathing at the Dinner Table
RHR: Do Raw Vegetables Hurt Your Thyroid Health?
Got digestive problems? Take it easy on the veggies.
The Paleo Diet. Wild Salmon and Sauteed Spinach
The Paleo Diet. What to Eat on a Paleo Diet
Paleo Diet. Spinach
Paleo Burn. Eat Your Spinach!
Paleo Porn. Is Spinach Paleo?
Original Eating. Spinach
The Paleo Gut. Health Benefits of Spinach
Good Food. The health benefits of… spinach
Other names for Spinach
Baby spinach, savoy, palak
Did we miss anything?
Comment below and let us know what you think. Do you agree with our conclusion?
photo credit: Spinach Salad 042210Th