Pregnancy is the time for you to carefully plan a wholesome strengthening and nourishing diet. Here we are to help you in that endeavour, by bringing to light the pregnancy-friendly foods hidden in our daily diet! Calorically light, rich in folates, fibres, vitamins and minerals, the spinach has long been in the good side as a perfect choice of food for a mother to be. Read on to discover the risks associated with eating spinach and what you can do if you love it!
The Spinach Plant
Scientifically called as the Spinacia oleracea, the spinach is an edible plant. The leaves of the spinach plant are served both cooked and raw. The spinach plant is called Palak, Pasalai keerai, Sag or Palanga Saga in different parts of India.
A serving of approximate 100g of spinach contains:
- 23 kcal of calories
- 2.3 g of proteins
- 4g of carbs
- 0g of fat
- 3 g of iron
- 194 mcg of folic acid
- 99 mg of calcium.
Along with these, this plant is also loaded with:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B9
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
Why is spinach good for moms to be?
Because it is loaded with such goodness, spinach helps moms to be in many ways. Here are some of its health benefits:
Us pregnant woman have fluctuating blood pressures as our body changes to accommodate a baby. It is very common to feel palpitations and dizziness during the three trimesters. The nitrate-rich spinach can help regulate your blood pressure. Its potassium is useful for lowering pressure and the sodium is useful in raising it, helping in maintaining an overall balance.
The glycol lipids of the spinach plant are excellent anti-inflammatory agents that provide relief from the pains caused by the stretching of different muscles and ligaments.
Repair and Protect
The proteins and amino acids in spinach promote healing, repair and building up of cells. This can be useful throughout pregnancy and after childbirth. The antioxidants and vitamin C content also helps keep our immunity in tip-top shape.
Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin K which helps blood clot faster. This can greatly help in minimalizing the blood loss during delivery.
Spinach is an excellent agent that reduces the blood sugar levels in diabetics. If you are borderline diabetic, including spinach in your food regularly can help you keep blood sugar in check.
How is spinach good for the baby?
Not just mothers, regular intake of spinach can be beneficial to the little one growing inside too. Here are a few ways in which spinach helps the growing baby:
Calcium is an element whose intake is much stressed over pregnancy. The fast-growing baby inside you needs a healthy supply of calcium to develop strong bones – a 100 g serving of spinach gives you 99 mg of this much-needed mineral.
Folic acid is an essential element needed during the growth of the baby. Loss of adequate folic acid can result in delayed cognitive development and cleft lips in unborn babies. Low iron levels are a leading factor in causing miscarriages and premature births. Stocking up on iron-rich food like spinach is a great way to keep these problems at bay.
Lungs and healthy weight
The beta carotene present in the spinach plants is synthesized into Vitamin A in our body, which plays an important role in the development of lungs. Regular intake of Vitamin A also ensures that your baby reaches a healthy weight when safely cuddled inside you.
The Vitamins B1 and B2 encourage the development of the nervous system in growing babies. These vitamins also play an important role in developing vision in the foetus.
The not so good side of spinach
Loaded with iron and calcium, the most basic needed pregnancy nutrients, we can see why it is easy to love spinach. Unfortunately, much of its strengths are also its weaknesses. For example, because it is rich in calcium, it encourages healthy bones and more kidney stones! And its oxalates and fibres can get in the way of our body actually utilizing the iron. Here is a list of the side effects of eating too much spinach.
- The fibre rich spinach plant is great in encouraging regular bowel movements. But, some mothers to be can have a hard time digesting this leafy food, resulting in belching, gas and indigestion.
- Spinach is rich in purines, the substance that encourages the formation of kidney stones.
- The high levels of purines in spinach are also not good for arthritis. If you are a joint pain prone person, avoid taking too much spinach because it can result in gout flares and swelling of joints.
- Although spinach is very rich in iron, much of it is in a form that is hard to absorb by our intestines. The presence of higher levels of oxalic acids in spinach (at levels around 1000 mg per 100 mg) prevents and blocks the absorption of iron. When compared, a carrot has 49 mg of oxalic acid and beetroot has 67 mg. You can destroy most of the oxalates by boiling the spinach well. Boiling is more effective than baking or sauteeing the spinach.
- Spinach reduces blood sugar levels. If you are already taking medication for blood sugar, avoid too much spinach intake to prevent your blood sugar levels dropping too low.
- Spinach is rich in Vitamin K, which is a coagulant. If you are on anti-coagulant medications, stop your intake of spinach – it could interfere with your medicine.
Is spinach safe for pregnant women?
Rich in iron, calcium, proteins, vitamins and minerals, spinach is a good choice of food for pregnant women, but only in moderate doses. Rather than helping yourself to large servings of this green leafy vegetable in every other meal, reduce its role and sprinkle a few leaves as garnishes on your rotis, gravy and sandwiches to reap its abundant goodness while keeping the bad away.
Also, eating raw and uncooked food is a big no-no during pregnancy. Raw Palak and spinach juices are a delicacy, but make sure to stay away from it to prevent infection from microbes and pesticides when you are pregnant.
There is no need to shun spinach entirely just because it contains too much oxalic acid. It is still an excellent source of potassium, niacin, riboflavin, folate, vitamin K and C. Just keep an eye on your portions and cook everything well to have a problem-free pregnancy.