The Bad Sides of Spinach

Despite its high nutritional value, spinach also contains substances that may increase the risk of certain diseases. People with gout or kidney problems, for example, are suggested to limit their consumption of spinach. Spinach is a source of purines –naturally occurring substances– that often associated with uric acid-related problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, consuming a large amount of spinach can lead to high concentrations of uric acid in the blood. The accumulation may result in gout, needle-like crystals of uric acid that precipitate in joints and capillaries, causing pain, inflammation and swelling. Spinach is also high in oxalic acid. It can increase the risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones. To minimize the negative impacts of oxalic acid, spinach should be cooked rather than eaten raw.

spinachThese are some other negative effects that may come from spinach:

  • Oxalic acid binds with iron and calcium, reducing the amount of those nutrients absorbed by your body.
  • You may experience gas, bloating and cramping after eating spinach. Eat a large amount of spinach all at once may cause diarrhea.
  • Eating spinach can make your teeth feel gritty or slimy. It is because of the oxalic acid’s small crystals that do not dissolve in water. It is harmless and can be removed by brushing your teeth.
  • When spinach is heated, stored and then later reheated, the nitrate found in spinach can be converted to nitrite. Nitrite can affect the ability of the blood to transport oxygen by transforming hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood, into methemoglobin, a form of the protein which is unable to carry oxygen. This can be dangerous for babies and is commonly known as “Blue Baby Syndrome”.
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