Top 5 Health Benefits of Spinach + Nutrition Info and Fun Facts

Written by Natalie Bickford, MScN

Spinach is an extremely popular leafy green vegetable and a good source of vitamin K, beta-carotene, vitamin A, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, and potassium.

In addition to being delicious, spinach also boosts brain health, helps maintain strong bones, improves skin health, protects against cancer, and helps prevent iron deficiency.

Read the article below for all the details on the health benefits of spinach, the nutrient info, and fun facts.

Health Benefits of Spinach Health Benefits

1. Spinach Boosts Brain Health

Spinach is an excellent source of folate and potassium which are correlated with improved memory and brain health. One cup of cooked spinach contains 66% DV for folate and 24% DV for potassium (1). One study showed a significant improvement in memory and attention in older women supplemented with folate (2). Another study found low levels of potassium in patients with Alzheimer's Disease (3).

2. Spinach Helps Maintain Strong Bones

Spinach is high in some essential nutrients for bone health. One cup of cooked spinach contains a whopping 888.5 micrograms of vitamin K (1111%DV) and 245 milligrams of calcium (25%DV) (1). Vitamin K increases bone mineral density and reduces the risk of fracture (4). Calcium is in high demand in our bodies and when we are getting enough calcium from our diet, our bodies pull it from our bones (5). Due to oxalates found in spinach, calcium absorption can be poor, however, spinach still provides calcium (6), and the daily value (%DV) already takes absorption factors into account.

3. Spinach Improves Skin Health

Spinach is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that improve your skin health. One cup of cooked spinach contains 377% DV for vitamin A and 26% DV for vitamin C (1). Vitamin A helps to prevent damage from UV rays and slows signs of aging (7). Vitamin C in our skin helps fight off free radicals and promotes collagen health. Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy which is basically joint pain due to an absence of collagen. (8).

4. Spinach Protects Against Cancer

Spinach is an excellent source of a class of nutrients called flavonoids. There are specific flavonoids in spinach, most notably apigenin, that have protective mechanisms against ovarian cancer (9). Spinach is also high in chlorophyll, a nutrient that gives spinach it's vibrant green color and has substantial anticarcinogenic effects (10).

5. Spinach Helps Prevent Iron Deficiency

Spinach is an excellent plant-based source of iron. One cup of cooked spinach contains 36% DV for iron (1). Further, spinach is high in vitamin C which can boost plant based iron absorption by as much as 85%. (11) Including spinach and other leafy greens in your daily diet can help to prevent iron deficiency, which is very common among women (12). Most common sources of iron are from animal products, but spinach is an excellent vegetarian alternative.

Nutrient Info For Health Benefits of Spinach

Serving size: 1 cup cooked

Top 10 Nutrients by %DV
  • Vitamin K1111% DV
  • Vitamin A377% DV
  • Manganese84% DV
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate)66% DV
  • Magnesium39% DV
  • Iron36% DV
  • Vitamin C29% DV
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)25% DV
  • Calcium24% DV
  • Potassium24% DV
Table for Common Nutrients
Nutrient%DV
Calories 41 2%
Fat 0.5g 1%
Protein 5.3g 11%
Carbohydrate 6.8g 2%
Sugars 0.8g ~
Fiber 4.3g 12%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Saturated Fats 0.077g 0%
Calcium, Ca 244.8mg 24%
Iron, Fe 6.4mg 36%
Potassium, K 838.8mg 24%
Magnesium, Mg 156.6mg 39%
Vitamin A, IU 18865.8IU 377%
Vitamin C 17.6mg 29%
Vitamin B-12 0μg 0%

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database - Release 28.
See the complete nutrition facts with over 150 nutrients, or the nutrition facts comparison of Health Benefits of Spinach vs other foods.

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Health Benefits of Spinach Fun Facts

  1. Spinach originated in Central/Southwest Asia and was first domesticated in Nepal. A hearty plant in cold climates, spinach is cultivated all over the temperate world.
  2. As of 2014, over 90% of the world's spinach is grown in China. (13).
  3. The U.S. is the world's 2nd largest producer, with California growing over 70% of spinach in the U.S.
  4. A recent study from Penn State found that fresh Spinach stored in bags for as much as 7 days will likely have a lower nutrient content than frozen or even canned spinach. The nutrition comparison of fresh, frozen, and canned spinach, shows that frozen spinach is the best choice for almost all nutrients except vitamin C, which is much higher in fresh spinach.
  5. Spinach was the strength-giving food for the cartoon character Popeye The Sailor Man.
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Data Sources and References

  1. Nutrition Facts for Cooked Spinach
  2. Fioravanti M, Ferrario E, Massaia M, et al. Low folate levels in the cognitive decline of elderly patients and the efficacy of folate as a treatment for improving memory deficits. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 1998;26(1):1-13.
  3. Roberts BR, Doecke JD, Rembach A, et al. Rubidium and potassium levels are altered in Alzheimer's disease brain and blood but not in cerebrospinal fluid. Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2016;4(1):119.
  4. Narayan S, Lakshmipriya N, Vaidya R, et al. Association of dietary fiber intake with serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in Urban Asian-Indian adults with type 2 diabetes. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2014;18(5):624-30.
  5. Oregon State University on Calcium
  6. Calcium absorbability from spinach
  7. Oregon State University on Vitamin A and Skin Health
  8. Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143-6.
  9. Gates MA, Vitonis AF, Tworoger SS, et al. Flavonoid intake and ovarian cancer risk in a population-based case-control study. Int J Cancer. 2009;124(8):1918-25.
  10. Mcquistan TJ, Simonich MT, Pratt MM, et al. Cancer chemoprevention by dietary chlorophylls: a 12,000-animal dose-dose matrix biomarker and tumor study. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012;50(2):341-52.
  11. Effect of different drinks on the absorption of non-heme iron from composite meals.
  12. Iron Deficiency Anemia. PubMed Health.
  13. FOA Statistics