You might remember those cartoons of Popeye eating spinach out of the can, getting super jacked and beating up anyone who tried to steal his girl, Olive Oyl. While you won’t see any results within 30 seconds of eating spinach like he did, we can guarantee that if you make it a regular part of your diet, you’ll be swoll just like Popeye. Spinach is among the world’s healthiest foods and is highly recommend by every doctor, dietician and nutritionist. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, packed with anti-oxidants and phytonutrients and extremely low in calories and fat. One cup of cooked spinach has just 41 calories and over 100 percent of your daily vitamins K and A, so you can eat it whether you’re bulking or cutting. It also contains high percentages of other daily recommend vitamins and minerals, including:
- 84 percent of your daily recommend manganese
- 66 percent of your daily recommend folate
- About a third of your daily recommend magnesium, iron, copper and vitamin B2
- About a quarter of your daily recommended vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, vitamin C and potassium
- 10 other beneficial vitamins, minerals and acids including choline, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids
Spinach protects your body against inflammation, reduces the risk of oxidative stress-related damages to the body, reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure, bone problems and multiple cancers. It has been shown to be particularly effective in preventing stomach cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer and some extremely aggressive forms of prostate cancer that other, similar foods have not been shown to protect against as well as spinach. It has also been proven to have numerous benefits for the nervous system and for your eyes. Studies have shown that eating spinach daily can reduce the risk of age-related eye conditions, including macular degeneration.
And if those benefits weren’t enough to convince you, since spinach is so rich in vitamin K, it’s great for promoting healthy bones. Bone health is essential, especially as you age. Working to promote bone strength now will save you a lot of time—and probably pain and money—down the road, especially for bodybuilders. Any way you break it down, leafy greens like spinach provide more nutrients per calorie than any other kind of vegetable. So make sure you’re making them a part of your diet a few times a week.
How to Eat Spinach
There are three different types of spinach—savoy, smooth-leaf and baby—all packed with nutrients but with slightly different tastes and each is better in a different type of dish. Here are some easy, healthy ideas of how you can incorporate spinach into your everyday diet:
Spinach is a great way to pump up the nutrient count in your smoothies. Green smoothies are tasty, healthy and full of vitamins and minerals. They’re great for a post-workout meal or as a mid-day snack. Spinach is one of the best greens to add because it provides all the nutritional content you want without ruining the flavor. Savory or smooth-leaf spinach would be a good choice for this.
You can also use spinach in pasta and as a topping for steaks like in this recipe from our forum. Spinach cooks down a lot, so you can use a good amount of it in a recipe without it taking up all the room on your plate. It also blends with other flavors well when cooked, so if you don’t like the taste you can still get all the nutritional benefits without suffering the taste. Any type of spinach will work in a dish like this.
Salads are always a good use for spinach—try to get baby spinach because it is a little more tender and doesn’t have that bitter taste that other spinaches have. You can mix your spinach in with other greens or have just a spinach salad. Make sure to mix up your own salad dressing and you’ll be good to go with a healthy snack or side dish.
There are also a lot of ways to incorporate spinach into a healthy breakfast, like putting it in scrambled eggs or an omelet, on a toasted breakfast power sandwich or in a green breakfast smoothie.