Spinach may not be the best source of iron, but there are still health benefits — and the supermarket bags are better still
Q: Is spinach as good for as you people say? I’ve heard that it’s hardly got any iron, even though we all associate it with Popeye and bulging muscles.
A: Spinach does give us iron, but our bodies can make use of only about half of what is present because within the spinach leaves, the iron is bound tightly to a substance known as oxalic acid, making it hard for our bodies to absorb it.
The bottom line is that while 50g of fresh baby spinach leaves in a salad gives us about 1mg of iron, of which we can make use of 0.5g, you need about a 70g portion of cooked spinach to provide about the same. To give this a sense of perspective, women should be aiming for 14.8mg a day; men 8.7mg a day.
Popeye would have been better off gulping down a steak with about 2mg of very easily absorbed iron or better still, the same weight of canned sardines with more than double this.