Raw spinach is not generally bad for you. Some people may suffer adverse symptoms as a result of certain conditions they may have, but a healthy human body is more than capable of dealing with the consumption of raw spinach. Not to mention there are many health benefits to be had.
Spinach has seen something of a renaissance in the last few years. This is primarily due to the popularity of the green juice movement advocated by healthy eating foodies. Many people following the raw food diet drink foods like spinach and kale in their raw form to ensure that they are getting their required intake of nutrients.
This begs the question: Can consuming raw spinach be bad for you?
First off, the good news. As we’ve just mentioned, spinach is incredibly rich in a wide variety of nutrients. At the top of the list is potassium, which is essential for many bodily functions including maintaining blood pressure, water balance, and nervous system health. Raw spinach is also rich in vitamins A and C - both are essential to the immune system and help to prevent us from picking up illnesses.
Pregnant women benefit enormously from spinach as it provides a considerable amount of folate which ensures healthy cell growth. There is also substantial evidence to suggest that folate can help alleviate mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
Manganese, magnesium, and calcium all play an essential part in bone health, so regular intake of spinach will ensure that you reduce the risk of bone diseases like osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Finally, spinach contains copious amounts of lutein, a pigment that enables you to retain healthy eyes and has been proven to slow down the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
So what are the downsides of eating raw spinach?
E. coli is the most common risk associated with raw spinach consumption. Washing the spinach greatly reduces this risk, but if you are unlucky enough to eat contaminated spinach, it will most likely result in food poisoning. Cooking the spinach is the only surefire way to eliminate any bacteria contamination, however, this can also reduce the nutritional content - which is why many choose to eat raw spinach in the first place.
Spinach also contains high amounts oxalic acid which can, in some cases, have a detrimental effect on your kidneys. Oxalates can bind with calcium, which over time can build up and result in kidney stones. Most healthy bodies can naturally get rid of oxalic acid during the digestion process, but if you have a history of kidney stones in your family, it is worth keeping your consumption of raw spinach to a minimum.
Alongside kidney problems, research suggests that there may be a link between oxalates and autism. People on the autistic spectrum have reported a worsening of particular symptoms when they introduce too much oxalate into their body.
Raw spinach does come with its risks. However, many of these adverse effects are a result of health implications from which you may already suffer. If you have any of the conditions mentioned in this article, then it is advisable to eat raw spinach sparingly. That said, spinach is not bad for you. There is a whole host of nutritional benefits to be had from raw spinach, so don’t be afraid to consume in moderation.
Possible short-term side effects
Possible long-term side effects
- kidney stones
- worsening of symptoms for people on the autistic spectrum
Ingredients to be aware of
- oxalic acid
- vitamin k (can be problematic if you are taking a blood thinner)
- retains more nutritional value than cooked spinach