Spinach:
Getting the most from a double-edge sword

Time to read: 2 minutes

Hey, I’m all about the truth and spinach has some surprising downsides.  Yes, too much of a good thing can be bad for you — including spinach.  Did you know that to avoid problems — and extract the most nutritional value from this famously nutritious veggie — you need to ingest olive oil?  It’s no coincidence that Olive Oyl was Popeye’s gal pal… it’s scientific fact!  Most of the vitamins in spinach need “good fat” to fully assimilate into our bodies. You’ve heard me and others praise spinach… now let’s take a fair and balanced look at the seriously surprising cons of spinach.

How spinach can hurt you

Spinach can be tricky.  It contains goitrogens which are naturally occurring substances in some foods that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Cooking helps to deactivate the goitrogenic compounds but the risk to those with thyroid problems is not fully known.

Spinach also contains another naturally occurring substance called purine.  I know — it sounds like a great brand name of something that’s actually bad for you!  Seriously… purine is in spinach.  Excessive consumption of spinach can lead to excessive accumulation of uric acid in the body from the purine. Gout and kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of problems related to excessive consumption of foods containing purine.

Spinach also contains measurable amounts of naturally occurring oxalates.  When oxalates become overly concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause problems with kidneys and gall bladder.

You should also know that pesticides are often found in spinach — and any other dark green leafy vegetables.

To avoid the health risks from pesticides buy only organic dark leafy green vegetables.

Also, all of the green leafy vegetables contain alkaloids (alkaloids: sometimes toxic, bitter tasting, nitrogen-containing organic compounds released by plants). Even though they are in very small amounts I use different greens every day for my son’s smoothies.

By mixing it up a bit I’m eliminating the possibilities of accumulating certain alkaloids in the body.

Bottom line: Mix it up, include essential fats

I’m not suggesting you to eliminate spinach from your diet.  That would be foolish considering the remarkable benefits.  These concerns mean that spinach should be a part of a diet that is composed of a wide variety of foods.

With this in mind, when you make a smoothie with spinach to add some kind of “good fat” (as an example, coconut or olive oil).  Or when serving your child a salad, dress-it-up with hemp oil or flax seed oil.  Most of the vitamins (A, E) in spinach are fat soluble so in order to get all the benefits from them and to fully assimilate them we need to add fat.


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Comments

7 Comments... read them below or add one
  1. Desiree Boller
    November 4th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Great information, but how much is too much?

  2. coral
    February 29th, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I thought this to be a very clever way of marketing for the original popeye stories with olive oil..I shall now remember to add some olive oil to my smoothies, as at present I am consuming alot of spinach juices with carrots and giner..so thank you

  3. Megan
    June 22nd, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    That sounds great-switching up the greens-but I live in a country that only sells spinach and arugula year round and only kale seasonally. There isn’t anything else I can get. Actually,as an American living here,it’s really very depressing,going to the grocery store. I wonder if I’m eating too much spinach,since it’s the only green I get. Also,unfortunately,it’s very difficult to get organic spinach here,and,when I do find it,it’s about 2 small handfuls for an outrageous price. So frustrating!

  4. Spinach nut
    September 6th, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Really good info. Only concern is if you’re using olive oil your servings will vary with cooked vs.uncooked spinach. You get extremely larger amounts of vitamins and minerals when spinach is cooked. It’s a good idea to probably only use olive oil on the raw spinach.

  5. mufaris
    December 18th, 2012 at 1:19 am

    well , after reading this post , i am very surprised how cleaver the past civilization of India was… coz the method of cooking spinach here includes coconut too … GREAT!!!

  6. Jenny Small
    March 19th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    very interesting article, how much is too much spinach ?
    also I live in France and cant find coconut oil, can you get the same from cocunut milk for example ?
    thanks

  7. Eats and Treats | Older Eyes
    May 14th, 2013 at 10:32 am

    [...] the thyroid gland).  Maybe that’s why Popeye always ate his spinach from a can.  Of course, GreenCravers.com, which stretches its credibility with the motto, Yes, kids love greens, tells me, To avoid the [...]






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