I’m Strong to the Finich, Cause I Eat Me Spinach!

August 3, 2012 — 97 Comments

Blog Image17Remember Popeye, the hero who had to rescue Olive Oyl from “the most remarkable extraordinary fellow,” Sindbad the Sailor? Popeye got his butt kicked and it wasn’t until he managed to scoff down a can of spinach that he was able to turn the tides, pummel the brute, and save the day. Popeye definitely had the right idea with spinach and if there is one simple swap you should be making immediately, it’s this leafy green graciously lying on your sandwich instead of iceberg lettuce.

I would never tell anyone NOT to eat iceberg lettuce, because any lettuce is better than no lettuce, but nutritionally speaking, you are probably getting the same amount of nutrients from that leaf of iceberg lettuce as the Toronto Maple Leafs would get wins. Ouch. However the fact is as follows: compared to other vegetables in regards to total calories versus nutrient density, spinach is one tough dog to beat.

Let’s start with the basics. 1 cup of raw spinach contains 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of protein, and a ton of vitamins and minerals that we’ll get into soon. You get all of that nutritional goodness for a measly 7 calories. Cook the spinach and suddenly everything sky-rockets (excluding calories) since 1 cup of cooked spinach is a lot more than a cup of raw. The protein suggests why spinach is known as a renowned muscle builder. In fact, researchers have discovered that treating human cells with a hormone found in spinach increases protein synthesis by 20% (Weber, Zimmerman 92). Protein synthesis is when specific parts of DNA form proteins. Don’t expect that from a cup of iceberg lettuce, just to put that out there.

Spinach is rich in vitamin K (approx. 181% of recommended daily intake), calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and selenium, a nutrient that may help protect the liver and ward of Alzheimer’s (Weber, Zimmerman 92). Also, vitamin K isn’t the easiest to find in abundance and spinach actually ranks 2nd only to kale for vegetables that house this great bone-supportive nutrient.

Another really cool fact that makes spinach even more awesome than it already is is the discovery of new health-supportive nutrients called glycoglycerolipids. Try saying that 5 times fast, if you can even say it once. They are fat-related molecules in the membranes of light-sensitive organs found in many plants, and can essentially help protect the lining of the digestive tract from inflammation. I pulled that one out of my geeky hat just for you.

Some of us may already know that excessive inflammation typically is associated with a greater risk of cancer development, and if not, you now know. The point is that spinach contains more than twelve flavanoid compounds that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. What does that mean to you? Eating more spinach can potential decrease your risk of inflammation and thus decreasing your risk of cancer. If I haven’t won you over already, let’s try this one out too: A recent study on the relationship between prostate cancer risk and vegetable intake that included spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, mustard/turnip greens, collards, and kale, only spinach showed evidence of significant protection. The main culprit may be neoxanthin, a carotenoid that can kill prostate cancer cells according to the Journal of Nutrition. So not only was Popeye fighting buff sailors, but he was also fighting cancer every time he devoured his can of whoop-ass.

Before you quit reading, as I’m sure a lot of you are struggling to make sense of my 10-sylable words, I have one last point to make. Spinach is a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our body from harmful free radicals. The two seen plentiful in spinach are lutein and zeaxanthin which primarily target regions of the eye (retina and macula), therefore research suggests that spinach likely has a role to play in the development in age related eye issues. More research is needed to confirm this however.

Whether you want to sail the great oceans of our planet to find villains harbouring on the backs of whales, build muscle while losing fat, or simply just to eat healthier food, spinach is a great choice for you. It is readily available all over the world and is so versatile. I love to shove a whole fist-full into my daily morning omelets for an extra hit of everything I just explained. The choice is all yours. I do really encourage you to incorporate spinach into your diet, and if you do already, eat more!



97 responses to I’m Strong to the Finich, Cause I Eat Me Spinach!


    I love spinach for every single reason you mentioned. And it tastes a million times better than iceberg!!


    Ooooh. Timely. I just bought a giant container of baby spinach and have been worried about consuming it before it goes bad. Solution: eat it with everything!

    I am actually eating spinach pesto as we speak: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9Fm9Y7tjpw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    I just subbed the orzo pasta with cauliflower “rice.” I have a side of baked salmon.

    Here’s a good method to “rice” cauliflower if you don’t have a food processor like me… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW6UA90bnIo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Then I just steam the cauliflower in the microwave. So simple. It’s as enjoyable as the orzo version. 🙂


      I love me some spinach pesto too! Please send the leftovers. I’m serious. And I can’t say that I’ve ever tried cauliflower rice but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the link. This is great Ameina! I’m so glad you are enjoying this healthy food. See, you don’t need me.


    Good post … although you were preaching to the choir. I love spinach already:)


      Thanks. Do you have any favourite ways to eat it?


        I often add it to rice, but I like it blanched, rolled tightly and cut into sections, then topped with a sauce made from ground toasted sesame seed and mirin 🙂


        That sounds really good. I’ll have to try it sometime. I’m always looking for ways to add in a little extra green.


    Makes me glad that spinach salad is my daily lunch of choice 🙂 Great information, thanks for sharing!


    Great info on this post! There are some really creative ways to cook spinach, so it can definitely make for a tasty dish. Thankfully, I love spinach, so I didn’t need convincing! 😉


    Baby spinach tastes so good in place of iceberg lettuce; whenever it is offered here at school, I always try to go green with my salads and sandwiches.


      You’re definitely on the right track. Iceberg lettuce offers very little nutrition, but spinach, as you read, offers a ton. Thanks for reading!


    I think people who say they don’t like spinach have never tried it fresh. The fresh, raw leaves are so much better than canned or frozen. Sorry Popeye.


      Haha I’m sure Popeye won’t mind your comment. I hope… But I have to agree with you. Fresh spinach is much tastier to me, and not to mention more nutrient dense. However, I guess when you’re a sailor who never knows what predicaments are coming his way, canned is acceptable. Thanks for reading.


    I gave up iceberg a lot time ago and glad I did. Spinach+Garlic=the best!


      Totally! Although my opinion may be a bit bias because to me garlic + anything = the best! Haha. Thanks for reading.


    I got diagnosed with potassium deficiency and started eating more spinach, I make all my salads with spinach now!! Delicious! In addition to being extremely healthy, I like the more substancial texture of spinach leaves…


    I lead a generally unhealthy life, but reading your post makes me happy because I do love me some spinach and all these facts that you have listed make me want to eat more of it and maybe get something more healthy going!


      They say healthy behaviour begets more healthy behaviour, so you never know! I’m glad my article had a positive effect on you. Thanks for reading!

    sarahjamalwriter August 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Spinich is awsome but diddnt like it until after i was about 20. Yummy in eggs, salad, pasta…hmm hungry now


    I got my husband into including a big handful of raw spinach into his breakfast protein shake – soy protein powder (no sugar or sweetener added), one cup of frozen fruit, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, nonfat milk, one banana, a few chunks of fresh pineapple, and the handful of spinach. You can’t even taste the spinach in there, but it sure adds all of the great stuff you noted in your post. It’s a good way to get spinach into your diet if you are not crazy about the way spinach tastes. I also cook the spinach in a small amount of chicken broth and then serve it with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Yum!


      That’s the thing. You really can’t taste it in a smoothie so that negates the “I don’t like the taste” excuse most commonly associated with spinach. Yours sounds delicious. Thanks for reading!


    *sings* The more you know!!!


    Reblogged this on Cari's Choices and commented:
    As a kid, I really couldn’t stomach spinach, but now that I’ve ‘matured’, I LOVE IT!!


    I love spinach, raw or cooked, but I didn’t realize the bit about the inflammation thing. I’m dealing with something intestinal that might be celiac, because it goes away when I don’t eat wheat, but I’ve experienced a lot of …it’s not bloating, it’s like my stomach gets swollen or something. And I know that can’t be healthy. Thanks for the tip and congrats on FP!


      I would suggest maybe looking into gluten free products, or at least speaking with someone knowledgeable with the topic. You’d be surprised how many people are gluten intolerant. Thank you so much for reading though. I hope you figure out your intestinal issue.


    Lovely ode to spinach, though I cling to kale.


    I, too, enjoy spinach in smoothies! A summery treat I recently concocted: 3 nectarines, 1 packed cup of spinach, about 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 cup oats, splash of OJ for ease of blending, ice and honey or agave nectar to taste, depending on your sweet tooth. Makes 2ish servings. 🙂
    Great nutrition info, btw! I’m just beginning my blogging/nutrition adventures but absolutely aspire to some day get to this level!


      I’m humbled by your comment! Thank you. Your recipe sounds delicious. I’m sure you can’t even taste the spinach and you’re getting a ton of amazing benefits. Best of luck on your nutrition adventures. I look forward to seeing some finished work from you. Thanks for reading.


    haha read this while eating spinach, made me feel great 😀 thanks


    I enjoy your blog!
    BTW spinach is my go-to greenery, whenever I need to healthify whatever I’m eating. Love it!


      I’m happy to hear that you turn to spinach when in danger! As you can see you’re getting plenty of benefits when you “healthify” your food. Thanks for reading.


    Nice one! Congratz on freshly pressed!


    I don’t think I’ll be able to give up my lettuce. (I eat plenty of fiber in other foods.)


    One of my favorite ways to get my spinach is in smoothies – greek yogurt, strawberries, peanut butter, frozen banana and spinach. Yum!


      Smoothies are a great way to add spinach. Especially for people who don’t really like the taste of it. Thanks for reading!


    Tell us a tale
    of finest kale
    critique chains
    claims to fame
    as health food
    to the masses.


    Perhaps you mentioned it, but I’m curious.

    I had a teacher who told me that the vitamin K and calcium in the green is blocked by celic acid (maybe it was different, this was 2 years ago). The only way to get the benefits is by cooking the spinach to break down the acid.

    I like spinach raw in salads. I don’t drink milk, so I thought I was giving my body benefits, but after that teacher, I got all confused.



      There are food combinations that can enhance or restrict your absorption of certain nutrients. Only if you’re consuming certain foods at the same time.That much is true. But the thing with vegetables is the longer you cook them, the more nutrients they’re losing. Raw is almost always best.


        Thats what I thought! I always try to eat as close to nature as possible, because (I thought) cooking loses nutrients. Store bought vegetables lose much nutrients anyway, from mass productions, so I always try to eat home grown garden veggies, raw.

        Ive been so confused since that class.


        It sounds like you’re doing the right thing to me! With this industry it’s very easy to get confused because a lot of the information comes from assumption rather than hard scientific evidence. A lot of it is marketing ploys too. Nasty I tell you!


    Reblogged this on Life's Journey and commented:
    Hi readers! I just read this blog and thought I would share on my blog. I lack the nutritional education to give in depth information like this on food so if you are interested I will continue to repost great nutritional info,,,enjoy!

    Barbara @ Just Another Manic Mommy August 29, 2012 at 3:46 am

    I was already sold on spinach when I read this but I learned a lot…thanks! When I’m at a salad place I am always perplexed as to why I am the only person, it seems, using spinach as my greens. Great post 🙂


      Spinach has got a “gross” reputation over the years and I really don’t know why. Keep piling it on! Thanks for reading.


    Shane, thanks for sharing the scientific facts about spinach. My hubby likes a lot of green veggies and spinach is in his top list. Therefore, I have kept his nickname as Popeye; to his surprise I like to cook with olive oil a lot (nope, he doesn’t call me Olive Oyl). I wonder if a large chunk of nutrients are spoilt on cooking.


      When you cook veggies they do lose nutrients, however how much depends on the style and length of cooking. If you can, maybe try to steam spinach. That’s one of the best techniques for cooking. We want Popeye to get as many nutrients as possible! Thanks for reading.


    Hi Shane!
    Enjoyed the read. I am more of tasty food lover.But the leafy veggies have not attracted me much until I started using spinach in various ways.I make spinach flat bread,chicken in spinach gravy ,etc….the green color in all of these make me hungry,provides nutrition

    melissabaileycomstock August 29, 2012 at 6:10 am

    I put spinach on everything I used to put lettuce on and, taste-wise, the difference is negligible; nutrition-wise, through the roof. Thanks for getting the word out about a veggie that, as a kid, used to get a bad rap.


    and spinach is one of the easiest veggies to grow……..if you grow six plants and pick a few leaves of each one (coppicing)….as opposed to pulling the plant out of the ground…….this stimulates the growth of new leaves……..these six plants can serve a family opf four all season………


    and spinach is really one of the easiest plants to grow…..grow six to ten and do not pick the whole plant but take leaves of each plant as needed (coppicing)….this stimulates the growth of new leaves….these plants will serve a family of four all season and partially into the winter………


    not fond of lettuce however spinach is my vegetable love 😀


    Love how informative this is! I add baby spinach to heaps of meals, and make a “super green” puree for my bub with lots of spinach, is good to know what its helping..


    I love spinach and I prefer it to lettuce! I think they are more versatile than lettuce. Congrats on being freshly pressed!


    i love spinach, especially on my corn soup..


    Spinach is so healthy and it has such a great crunch on sandwiches. Despite this, the Popeye story is based on a mistake by a German scientist who accidentally misplaced a decimal point which made spinach seem to contain ten times more iron than it does. Despite that, it is delicious and you’re right about he calorie versus density wonder.


      I didn’t know that about Popeye, thanks! I can see how that would help him develop the idea haha. And yes it sure does taste great on sandwiches. Thanks for reading.


    This is such a great post! Spinach is dope. I love putting it on pizza, eggs, salad, in my shakes, nachos, uhh just about everything! I need to get me a corn cob pipe just like Popeye I guess.


    Fantastic post! No wonder it’s Fresh Pressed.

    Greens of many kinds (spinach included, beets and kale are my personal favorites) fit the bill. When someone asks me how it is I can be in my late 40’s, do all of my own manual (hard) yard labor, can still rock a bikini AND wear my wedding dress from 16 years ago, spat out 3 kids in my late-30’s with no drug intervention (the 4th had to be cut out), the answer is clear and concise: GREENS.

    Eat more greens. Nutrient-rich, calorie-shy (who’s not getting enough calories these days?), and a diet rich in greens fixes so much more than the waistline and cells in the body. (http://wp.me/P2Ej3Y-4)


      I wish everyone thought like you. Most women find it so difficult after giving birth and here you are showing that it can be done. I respect that. But it’s so true about the greens. They really are miracle workers. Thanks for your kind words and reading.


    Thanks for the info! Spinach is awesome and it’s amazing how many ways you can use it!


    I love spinach already as well 🙂 Both fresh and cooked with butter and vinegar/salt and garlic. I also love arugula, but that’s another story. I should buy more fresh spinach and use it with everything! 😀


      Vinegar, salt and garlic sounds good. I’ll need to try that. Arugula is very healthy as well. You can always mix it all together. Thanks for reading!


    Go Leafs Go!
    LOL I like that little joke, it’s s so true
    Thanks for the nutritional info, and co ngrats on the FP!


      Haha thanks! I didn’t think just anyone would get that joke, but knew at least one person would! And I was right. Thanks for reading!


    Popeye is the reason I eat spinach 😀


    oh, but if its boiled it makes my teeth gnarly :O


    I love spinach too and so does my lizard. It’s a fantastic addition to any meal…except maybe ice cream.


    I think I was the only kid growing up that actually ate spinich. and i hate to admit it, but I actually sang the song while eating it AND (because I was all of 4’5” and 95#) I would eat it right out of the can. Alas, It didnt help lol


    i love spinach & i loved your post too! thanks for spreading awareness about this humble yet highly nutritional green 🙂


    Great post! I would be happy eating spinach sauteed with coconut oil and garlic every day of the week!


    Reblogged this on How 2 Be Green.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. I’m Strong to the Finich, Cause I Eat Me Spinach! « Freckled Greens: A Healthy Life - August 29, 2012

    […] I’m Strong to the Finich, Cause I Eat Me Spinach!. […]

  2. So Healthy Turns 1 + Contest Giveaway + Happy New Year | So Healthy Nutrition - January 1, 2013

    […] kick everything off, my blog post “I’m Strong to the Finich, Cause I Eat Me Spinach” was Freshly Pressed on the WordPress homepage. This was a remarkable experience as it drove […]

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