Spinach is a delicious and nutritious leafy green that contains a wide variety of minerals and vitamins.
Because of that, it’s a staple in the kitchens of people who follow a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Spinach also contains some protein, which makes it an even more nutrient-dense food. But is the protein found in spinach complete?
Does it contain all nine essential amino acids in adequate amounts?
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Is spinach a complete protein?
Spinach contains all nine essential amino acids but not in adequate amounts. Because of that, spinach isn’t a complete protein, so you need to pair it with other foods to create a complete protein profile.
Aside from that, spinach is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, manganese, iron, and many other micronutrients.
So, adding spinach to your diet – both cooked and raw – is a great idea for your health.
Why is spinach not a complete protein?
Spinach contains all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own but not in sufficient amounts.
So, you’d have to consume a lot of spinach to reach any decent amount of each of the nine essential amino acids.
You’re also more likely to get more of each amino acid if you eat cooked spinach. This is because it’s easier to eat more cooked spinach than raw spinach.
One cup of cooked spinach contains about 5.3 g of protein, which equals 11% of your daily recommended need for this nutrient. This isn’t a lot, so it’s also why there are fewer amino acids in spinach.
It’s also important to note that even though eating more spinach can help you get more amino acids, it’s not recommended.
While spinach is generally safe and healthy, it contains a lot of vitamin K. This can cause problems for people who are taking blood thinners.
So, talk to your doctor before consuming a large amount of spinach.
Spinach is also high in oxalates. So, eating too much can be bad for your kidneys. So, try eating spinach in moderation and consume other protein-rich foods to increase your intake of all essential amino acids.
How can you make spinach a complete protein?
On its own, spinach isn’t a complete protein. But you can easily serve it with other foods, creating a complete protein.
Generally, spinach pairs well with whole grains like wild or brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats, and similar. These contain the missing amino acids and add even more to the ones already found in spinach.
Also, eating salads with spinach instead of lettuce can be a way to create a complete protein. When doing that, be sure to include lots of veggies, some type of grain, and seeds or nuts.
That way, you will not only load up on nutrients but also consume more amino acids.
Some people also enjoy serving spinach with some soy sauce, especially when making salads or steaming this leafy green. Soy sauce contains a lot of amino acids and, together with spinach, can create a complete protein.
So, as you can see, there are many ways you can use spinach to create a complete protein.
Is spinach good for you?
Spinach is one of the healthiest leafy greens out there. It’s also very rich in nutrients. For example, one cup of cooked spinach contains 17% of your daily recommended need for fiber.
The fiber found in spinach is mostly insoluble. This type of fiber adds bulk to the stool, preventing constipation.
It also promotes healthy bowel movement, supports insulin sensitivity, and reduces your risk of diabetes.
So, it’s important to eat foods containing this kind of fiber.
Spinach is rich in several vitamins, but especially in vitamin K. A one-cup serving of cooked spinach provides you with ten times as much vitamin K as you need per day.
This fat-soluble micronutrient helps produce various proteins that are necessary for blood clotting and the building of bones.
Because of that, it helps with wound healing and reduces your risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.
Another vitamin found in large amounts in spinach is vitamin A. This is yet another fat-soluble vitamin that’s important for goods health.
Vitamin A helps protect your eyes from night blindness as well as age-related decline.
It also contributes to a lower risk of certain types of cancer and promotes a healthy immune system. So, it’s important to include a lot of foods rich in this vitamin in your diet.
Just like other leafy greens, spinach is a wonderful source of powerful plant compounds and antioxidants.
They help flush free radicals out of your body, preventing oxidative stress and damage to your cells.
Thanks to that, you’re at a lower risk of various chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. So, you can see how important it is to consume antioxidant-rich foods.
Spinach is also very rich in bone-healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Together, all these nutrients help keep your bones healthy and lower your risk of fractures.
What’s more, magnesium and calcium help boost your immune system, so you’re less likely to catch the common cold and other viral infections.
So, eating leafy greens like spinach can be a great, healthy way to prevent diseases.
According to studies, spinach contains two components, MGDG and SQDG, that have been linked to cancer prevention. These compounds may reduce tumor growth and suppress cancer formation.
Some plant compounds in spinach can also lower your blood pressure, reducing your risk of strokes and other cardiovascular conditions.
So, there are only wonderful benefits to eating spinach.
Even though spinach contains all nine essential amino acids, it doesn’t provide you with enough of each of them in a single serving. So, it’s important to eat spinach with other foods that contain more amino acids.
Aside from protein, spinach also packs a lot of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. All of these contribute to good health and help in disease prevention.
So, eating spinach is a great idea if you’re trying to improve your health.