Is Spinach Good For Diabetes?

Spinach may bring thoughts of a munching cartoon sailor, an unappetizing green vegetable, or one of your favorite dishes. While spinach can be all of these, it can also be a superfood for those with diabetes.

Spinach is a dark leafy green vegetable with a beneficial nutritional profile. Spinach comes in multiple forms, such as fresh or canned, and can be prepared in different ways using countless recipes. No matter how you consume spinach, it can provide many health benefits.

Spinach is a low-calorie food that contains a balance of water, fiber, protein, and carbs. A 3.5-ounce serving can provide 2.9 grams of protein and 2.2 grams of fiber with 3.9 grams of carbs and less than half a gram of fat (per Healthline). Aside from these excellent dietary stats, it also contains several antioxidants and vitamins. These valuable substances include quercetin, nitrates, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K1, calcium, folic acid, and iron. These nutrients make spinach a useful food, as they can help to promote eye health, reduce oxidative stress, reduce blood pressure levels, and potentially reduce the risk of cancer. Spinach's powerful ingredients can be especially helpful for people with diabetes.

How diabetes affects the body

Understanding how spinach can help patients with diabetes requires a basic comprehension of diabetes. Sugar and insulin are the significant factors at the core of diabetes. As you eat, the body turns food into glucose or sugar that circulates the bloodstream. When the amount of sugar in the blood increases, it causes the body to release insulin which allows the sugar into the cells to be used for energy (per CDC). This insulin that allows the sugar in the cells is usually released by the pancreas. However, the source of Type 1 diabetes is a lack of insulin.

In type 1 diabetes, what usually happens is the body stops making insulin due to the immune system attacking the cells in the pancreas that usually produce it. This lack of insulin leads to too much sugar in the blood resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, vision troubles, weight loss, mood changes, frequent urination, and feelings of hunger and thirst. Diabetes can become more complicated and lead to severe conditions such as kidney, eye, nerve, and foot damage, heart disease, pregnancy complications, and infections. There is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes (via Mayo Clinic).

According to the CDC, with type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't respond appropriately to the insulin produced. This poor response, parallel to type 1 diabetes, causes high blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes develops over time. Although it can't be cured, it can be managed with exercise, proper diet, and weight management (per Mayo Clinic).

Eating spinach can regulate blood sugar

Spinach can serve as an excellent meal add-on or snack choice to help fight the effects of diabetes. Spinach is not a starchy carbohydrate and generally contains relatively low levels of carbs, which is good because carbohydrates can raise blood sugar levels (per Everyday Health).

The fiber in spinach slows down digestion, which helps prevent blood sugar from spiking after eating. Fiber has other benefits, such as reducing cholesterol to protect heart health and aiding with healthy digestion (via Mayo Clinic).

Spinach is a low-calorie food (per Healthline). Although it's packed with nutrients that could boost your health, such as antioxidants, and keep you full, such as the decent protein and fiber content, it won't overload you with calories.

Diet is important for those with diabetes, as managing weight reduces symptoms and helps keep blood sugar levels in an acceptable range (per Mayo Clinic). Therefore spinach can likely be eaten without a negative effect on your diabetes or weight management efforts. It's worth your time, especially if you have diabetes or prediabetes, to find a style of spinach you enjoy eating so you can reap its mighty health benefits.