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

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A pregnancy diet should contain all the required nutrients. Consumption of spinach during pregnancy can provide you with protein, minerals, iron, and vitamins. It belongs to the Amaranthaceae family of flowering plants and offers several health benefits. Read on to learn more about it, including its benefits for pregnant women and more.

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

Good source of omega 3 fatty acids

Image: Shutterstock

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).
Eating spinach during pregnancy can aid fetal development

Image: Shutterstock

Quick fact
Spinach also contains vitamin K which plays an important role in blood clotting and also participates in bone development (14).

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).
Quick tip
Oxalates are water soluble and their content in spinach may be reduced by blanching, steaming, or boiling (15).
  • 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).
To avoid diarrhea always wash spinach properly

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  • 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
You can have spinach omelet with cheese

Image: Shutterstock

  • 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
Quick tip
Buy spinach with crisp and dark green leaves, and avoid those that are yellow, limp, wilted, or spotted.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I eat raw spinach when pregnant?

Yes, you can eat raw spinach when pregnant. However, you should buy fresh spinach and clean it thoroughly under cold water to ensure its safety. You can also use a vegetable brush to remove dust and dirt from the spinach leaves’ surface.

Does spinach cause gas during pregnancy?

Spinach is a fibrous vegetable that facilitates smooth digestion. However, its excessive consumption, especially in raw form, can cause gas and heartburn in some expecting mothers.

Consuming spinach during pregnancy is safe and may offer you essential pregnancy nutrients, including protein, minerals, iron, and vitamins. However, stick to eating spinach in moderation to avoid deficiency or overconsumption. If you like the taste of this green leafy vegetable, you may incorporate it into your pregnancy diet as a soup, smoothie, salad, snack dips, or as an ingredient in various meals such as scrambled eggs, sandwiches, and more. Also, ensure to use fresh spinach leaves that have been thoroughly washed before use.

Infographic: Benefits And Risks Of Eating Spinach When Pregnant

Spinach is a green leafy vegetable recommended for a balanced diet. Though it is beneficial for expectant mothers, overeating might be detrimental. To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of eating spinach while pregnant, see the infographic below.

pros and cons of eating spinach during pregnancy [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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)
14. Spinach. Washington State University
15. J. Hennecke, Reducing Oxalates. Washington College

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