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Spinach (Palak) During Pregnancy: Health Benefits And Possible Side Effects

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Spinach, an edible plant from the Amaranthaceae family, is nutritious as it contains the necessary minerals, vitamins, iron, and protein. If you are adding it to our pregnancy diet, you might want to know its safety, how it can benefit you and more. MomJunction tells you about it in this post.

Is It Safe To Eat Spinach During Pregnancy?

You can consume spinach during pregnancy, but in moderation. Spinach contains folic acid, which is one of the essential nutrients that pregnant women should include in their diet. Folate or folic acid helps prevent birth defects (1).

This green leafy vegetable also contains iron, which is another vital nutrient required in pregnancy (2). But see that you are not consuming spinach in excess. For instance, if you are susceptible to kidney stones, then you may want to cut down the consumption of spinach.

Nutritional Facts Of Spinach

Spinach is rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, magnesium, folate, potassium, iron, and copper. It is also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and flavonoids (3).

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of spinach contains 23kcal, 99mg calcium, 79mg magnesium, 558mg potassium, 28.1mg vitamin C, and 194µg folate. In addition, it also has 79mg sodium and 49mg phosphorus .

All these nutrients of spinach can be beneficial to the mother and the baby.

Benefits Of Spinach During Pregnancy

The nutrients in spinach can be helpful in the below-mentioned ways:

  1. Iron and folic acid: During pregnancy, the blood volume in the body goes up by 30 to 50% (4) that can increase iron and folic acid requirement of the body. Regularly consuming spinach may help meet the iron requirements of the body.
  1. Calcium: Increased calcium levels may result in low blood pressure, while low levels of calcium may lead to hypertension in pregnancy. The bioavailability of calcium in spinach might help in maintaining the blood pressure levels (5).
  1. Vitamins: Spinach, a rich source of vitamins A and C, may help strengthen the immune system (6). Spinach can help you meet the daily requirement of vitamin A, which is required for your health as well as fetal development (7).Consuming spinach during pregnancy adds to your daily intake of vitamin B, which is essential for the development of the baby’s nervous system (8).

How Much Spinach Should You Have During Pregnancy?

The Central District Health Department, Idaho, recommends one serving of spinach (half-a-cup) a day for pregnant women (9). Excess consumption of spinach might lead to some adverse effects.

Possible Side Effects Of Eating Spinach During Pregnancy

Ingesting too much of spinach when pregnant can result in some side effects such as:

  • Kidney stones: Pregnant women could have more chances of developing calcium phosphate stones, especially during the second and third trimester. Also, high intake of oxalate foods may result in urinary tract infections. However, consuming spinach in moderate amounts may not pose this risk (10).
  • Diarrhea: Expecting moms are susceptible to listeriosis and salmonellosis. Spinach leaves may have bacterial contaminants that could lead to diarrhea. Therefore, always wash the leaves properly before consumption (11).
  • Salicylate allergies: Salicylate, especially in the third trimester, can cause bleeding and prolong the labor. As spinach contains salicylate, minimize its consumption in the last couple of months of pregnancy (12) (13).

Ways To Include Spinach In Pregnancy Diet

You can enjoy the taste and reap the nutrient benefits of spinach in different ways.

  • Prepare spinach soup and enjoy it for your lunch or dinner
  • Spinach omelet with cheese is not only healthy but also delicious
  • A glass of nutritious spinach smoothie could be a healthy choice
  • You may include spinach in your vegetable salad as well
  • Sauté spinach in olive oil and garlic, and have it with bread

Next, we answer some questions about spinach intake during pregnancy.

Frequently Answered Questions

1. Can I drink spinach juice in pregnancy?

Yes, you can drink spinach juice when pregnant, provided you are making it fresh at home. However, drink it in limited quantities.

2. Can I eat spinach salad while pregnant?

Yes, but make sure you are using fresh leaves and washing them thoroughly to avoid bacterial contamination.

If you like the taste of spinach, you may include it in your routine diet in various ways. This green leafy vegetable is completely safe during pregnancy when eaten in the right quantities.

How do you like to eat spinach? Let us know in the comment section below.

References:

1. Health Tips for Pregnant Women; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
2. Anemia and Pregnancy; University of California San Francisco
3. Spinach, raw; United States Department of Agriculture
4. Priya Soma-Pillay et al., Physiological changes in pregnancy; National Center for Biotechnology Information
5. Calcium; Oregon State University
6. Nutrition; Allina Health
7. Vitamin A; National Institutes of Health
8. Spinach; Foundation Louis Bonduelle
9. Eating for a Healthy Pregnancy; Central District Health Department, Idaho
10. L. Frassetto & I. Kohlstadt, Treatment and Prevention of Kidney Stones: An Update; American Academy of Family Physicians
11. S. K. Mritunjay and V. Kumar, A study on prevalence of microbial contamination on the surface of raw salad vegetables; Indian Institute of Technology
12. Salicylate (Oral Route, Rectal Route); Mayo Clinic
13. J. Hennecke, Salicylic add – a problem substance for allergy sufferers (2014)

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