Spinach is a leafy green vegetable rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating raw spinach as part of a salad adds bulk to your meals without a lot of calories, making it a good choice if you are watching your weight. Baby spinach leaves are smaller and more tender, so they are often served raw--but mature leaves share the same nutrients.
Calories and Macronutrients
One cup of raw spinach contains 7 calories and 0 g of fat. It provides just 1 g of carbohydrates and 1 g of fiber. The 1 g of protein in spinach is not complete, in that it does not provide all nine of the essential amino acids.
Additional Nutritional Benefits
A 1-cup serving of raw spinach provides 56 percent of the daily recommended allowance for vitamin A, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Raw spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, vitamin E, potassium, vitamin B6 and B12. Spinach provides 14 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, 3 percent of calcium and 5 percent of iron. It also offers the trace minerals selenium, copper and zinc.
Phytonutrients refer to antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids--a type of antioxidant--are highly concentrated in raw spinach. These carotenoids help with eyesight and scavenge free radicals from your system, helping to prevent illness and chronic disease.
Spinach is one of the “dirty dozen” listed by the Environmental Working Group. These fruits and vegetables were deemed the most contaminated by pesticides, and the EWG recommends always seeking out organic versions to reduce your exposure. The EWG found nine different chemicals present in conventional spinach.
A substantial amount of a substance called oxalates is found in raw or cooked spinach. People with the rare health conditions hypercalciuria type II, enteric hyperoxaluria, and primary hyperoxaluria need to restrict oxalates according to the Oxalosis & Hyperoxaluria Foundation.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.