Smart Swap Saturday: Spinach

When starting a healthier lifestyle, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by all the products and food on the market. I am a firm believer that simple swaps add up and make a difference over time. Each Saturday I will feature a Smart Swap! These Smart Swaps will be healthier choices and recommendations for your favorite not-so-healthy foods. 

Today’s Smart Swap: Spinach

Obviously we know veggies are good for us! Sometimes it can just be hard to get them in. This is a simple swap- switch out iceberg lettuce for spinach! You are instantly getting in more nutrients! 

Let’s break it down! 

One cup of iceberg lettuce comes in at about 10 calories, 2,666 international units of Vitamin A, 3.3 milligrams of Vitamin C and small amounts of riboflavin, niacin and Vitamin B-6. 

Iceberg lettuce is truly more than water. BUT, we can have even more benefits by choosing spinach! 

Healthy Swap: Spinach

One cup of spinach comes in at about 7 calories, has 2,813 international units of Vitamin A, 8.4 milligrams of Vitamin C (which is about 10 percent of the daily intake suggestion), twice the amount of riboflavin, niacin and Vitamin B-6 and 4-5 times more folate and Vitamin K than leaf lettuce. 

Additionally, spinach has almost three times more calcium, iron and potassium than leaf lettuce. 

Based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, 1-cup of spinach provides roughly 100 percent of the suggested daily intake, and leaf lettuce provides over 80 percent. (LiveStrong)

Chlorophyll and Chlorophyll Benefits

Additionally, spinach contains chlorophyll. Chlorophyll gives spinach the green pigment and is critical for photosynthesis. 

“Chlorophyll is a green pigment naturally produced by plants and algae and gives them their characteristic green color. Chlorophyll is critical for photosynthesis, the process by which sunlight is converted into chemical energy. Chlorophyll can function as a free radical neutralizer, may help to support the body’s detoxification processes and has been traditionally used as an internal deodorizer.” (NOW Food)

“Chlorophyll can actually help do the job of hemoglobin, increasing the quantity and quality of red blood cells in your body. Amazing fact: it’s even been known to be used in hospital IVs for pain & swelling! It is only natural that “green sunshine” should bring you energy: taking chlorophyll in capsule, powder, or liquid form will bring you an instant boost of energy and vitality. More healthy red blood cells mean better oxygen absorption in the bloodstream, which means more all around energy and oxygen utilization in the body. And because of its blood health-improving qualities, it can cleanse and rejuvenate your body at a cellular level.” (The Chalkboard)

If you are switching over from iceberg lettuce to spinach- make your salads half iceberg lettuce, half spinach. This is a super easy way to start transitioning to spinach. Adding in iceberg lettuce to your spinach salads can add volume and allow you to eat more for less calories. 

Please note- I am not saying iceberg lettuce is unhealthy! I am simply providing an option that is more nutrient-dense!

Key Takeaways:

  • Spinach is nutrient-dense and contains chlorophyll 
  • Iceberg lettuce is more than just water 
  • 1 cup of spinach provides roughly 100 percent of the suggested daily intake
  • There are many ways to incorporate spinach into your diet- there are so many more options than just salad.

What are your favorite ways to add more nutrition-dense ingredients to your salad and smoothies?