How much iron is really in spinach?

Some misunderstandings change the lives of thousands of people. And I’m sure you always heard as a kid that you   should eat  your spinach because it contains so much iron  , right? But this is a myth: Spinach is said to have 10 times more iron than it actually has.

The iron content in spinach

Exactly how the iron-rich spinach myth came about is unclear. There are two common explanations for this.

According to one version, 100 years ago someone made a mistake when writing a nutritional table  by one decimal place.  The actual iron content of  3.5 mg in 100 g of spinach  suddenly became 35 mg. This comma error was passed down through generations and persisted.

A more likely explanation is that back then, the iron content was determined for  dried spinach rather than fresh  . In this case, the statement of 35 mg per 100 g would actually be correct, but incorrectly applied to fresh spinach.

Either way: Today we know that spinach provides much less iron than was previously assumed. However, nutritionists have found that spinach is high in  magnesium , vitamins B1, B2 and  folic acid  .

While the vegetable still appears to be a relatively good source of iron, it’s also high in oxalic acid, which is suspected to inhibit the absorption of iron in the gut. As a result, the iron from the spinach could not be optimally utilized by our body. However, more recent studies assess the effect of oxalic acid on iron absorption as rather small.

prevent iron deficiency

A little bit of everything – that’s the motto when it comes to healthy eating. Because if you eat a healthy and varied diet, there is little risk of developing an iron deficiency. Iron-rich foods are, for example, wheat bran, legumes, pistachios or  amaranth . Iron from animal foods can be absorbed particularly well by the intestines, such as liver or meat.

origin of spinach

Incidentally, there is the following theory about the origin of spinach: the vegetable plant probably came from Persia, first came to Spain through the Moors and from there spread to all European countries. The main producing countries today are the USA, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries.


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