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Spinach is a known dark green leafy vegetable, member of the Amaranthaceae family that includes beets and chard. Spinach is believed to originate in Iran; however, it found its way through parts of Asia and Europe. Spinach is categorised in three types according to the leaf texture: smooth-leaf, savoy, and semi-savoy (1).

Spinach is a highly nutritive plant

Spinach is composed by 91,4% of water. It contains small amounts of protein (2.95%), carbohydrate (3.6%), and fat (0.4%). One hundred grams of spinach contain 2.2 gr of fiber and high levels of folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamin K1, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin C (1). Production and cooking methods influence the composition of micronutrients in spinach. With folate being the most important nutrient in spinach, boiling and steaming spinach leads to a reduction of folate (-47% and -3%, respectively) and vitamin C (-75% and -34%, respectively) (1).

Spinach is rich in phytochemicals such as carotenoids which are naturally occurring pigments, such as lutein which is implicated in the prevention of aged-macular degeneration and cataracts (1). Spinach contains approximately 40% and 70% more phenols than cabbage, spinach, and lettuce, respectively (1). Phenolic compounds are known to function as antioxidants, signaling antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal agents (1).

Benefits of spinach consumption for pregnancy

Raw spinach consumption is an excellent nutritive food for pregnancy for its folate content, which is recommended during pregnancy to prevent neural tube effects (2).

1. Roberts JL, Moreau R. Functional properties of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) phytochemicals and bioactives. Food Funct. 2016 Aug 10;7(8):3337-53.  Epub 2016 Jun 29. PMID: 27353735.

2. Deniz, B. F., Confortim, H. D., Deckmann, I., Miguel, P. M., Bronauth, L., de Oliveira, B. C., … Pereira, L. O. (2018). Folic acid supplementation during pregnancy prevents cognitive impairments and BDNF imbalance in the hippocampus of the offspring after neonatal hypoxia-ischemia. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 60, 35–46.