Spinach is so versatile, it comes as dark green, robust leaves as well as small baby smooth leaves, and you can literally have it at every meal—whether it’s the star or hidden (a definite plus for some taste buds). For every “why” you should eat the green stuff, we’ve added a “how” to give you some recipe ideas. Happy National Spinach Day!
#10 Why? Your skin. High in vitamin A, spinach will help keep your skin, whether your issues are acne, aging, rosacea, uneven pigmentation or pre-cancerous signs.
How? Include leaves, either chopped or puréed, in your next dip. It’ll improve the health factor of a traditional onion dip, provide some hidden nutrients in a hummus or serve as the co-star of a spinach-artichoke dip.
#9 Why? Antioxidants. With vitamin C, vitamin E and manganese, and disease-fighting phytonutrients, spinach is great for your immune system and metabolism—and it’s an anti-inflammatory.
How? Top a pizza with spinach leaves and mushrooms for a tasty combo.
#8 Why? Folic acid. It’s not only critical for pregnancy, but folic acid is also a B vitamin that’s good for everyone’s cellular growth and regeneration.
How? An omelet or scramble will only be tastier with the addition of spinach, tomatoes and Parmesan.
#7 Why? Fiber. Greens provide fiber and the water content of spinach is high, so together, that’s a great combo for your whole digestive tract.
How? Spanakopita is a must for any list of yummy spinach dishes, but you must like the taste for this rich dish to make your heart sing.
#6 Why? Iron. This veggie has about twice the iron of other greens, and it’s good for your blood and warding off fatigue.
How? Instead of plain old lettuce, use this leafy option in your next sandwich or wrap.
#5 Why? Your bones. With about ½ cup delivering the daily recommended value of vitamin K, spinach is great for strong bones. It’s got calcium too!
How? Smoothies or pressed juices are great ways to start getting your greens first thing in the morning. Smoothies have the added fiber benefits as well. I like the combo of also adding cucumber, carrot, apple and frozen strawberries.
#4 Why? Your eyes. The lutein in it can help your vision by preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.
How? Depending on how cooked you like your spinach, either lightly or heavily sauté the green in a pan with shallots and raisins.
#3 Why? Low calories. At 40 cals per cup, you don’t have to worry about this green upping the total calorie count of a meal too much.
How? A quick pulse in a food processor and add some spinach to mac and cheese or a red pasta for healthier meal. Process longer to make a spinach-based pesto.
#2 Why? Energy. The nitrates in spinach have been shown to boost cellular efficiency. It may not be caffeine-level energy, but we’ll take it.
How? Add chopped spinach to a pot of minestrone or just about any soup you purée.
#1 Why? Strength like Popeye. It’s no joke, the green stuff can boost your muscles—and running prowess—by feeding them more nutrients and oxygen. It’s also high in potassium, which is great for muscle recovery.
How? My favorite way to eat spinach is in a salad, with sliced strawberries and a balsamic dressing. “Strong to the finish, cause [she] eats [her] spinach!”