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Is Spinach a Fat Burner?

by
author image Jenna Cee
Jenna Cee has been writing professionally since 2006. Her articles appear on 2Athletes.com and Women's Fitness Online. She is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and as a fitness and sports nutritionist through the International Sports Sciences Association. Cee holds a Master of Science in human nutrition from Washington State University.
Is Spinach a Fat Burner?
Fresh basket of spinach on a wooden table. Photo Credit olgakr/iStock/Getty Images

Most people know that their diet is very important to achieving their health and fitness goals. Although experienced dieters and weight loss experts know which foods are the best and among their favorites for managing or losing weight, you may not know exactly what foods are the best to eat for fat loss. You probably know that spinach is "good" for you but might not know how or if it fits into a fat loss diet.

Is Spinach a Fat Burner?

Although many commercial diets and nonprofessional fitness "experts" recommend certain "fat-burning foods," there is actually no such thing as a fat-burning food, according to the Health Resource Center at California State University at Long Beach. The American Heart Association calls the notion of a fat-burning food an "unsubstantiated myth." Foods contain calories and nutrients; when you consume them, your body processes and digests them to supply your body with energy and essential vitamins and minerals it needs. Fat burning is the result of expending more calories than you consume. This is called a caloric deficit. By creating a caloric deficit on a daily basis by eating fewer calories than you burn, you will begin to burn fat.

Spinach Is Ideal for a Diet

Although spinach nor any other food will actually burn body fat, spinach is still an ideal food to support your weight loss goals. Spinach is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, and the American Council on Exercise. Vegetables such spinach are low in calories and rich in nutrients, making them ideal replacements for high-calorie foods. Spinach is especially low in calories -- 1 cup of fresh spinach is only 7 calories. You are encouraged to insert spinach as a substitute for foods higher in calories. For example, if you eat omelets in the morning, the CDC suggests replacing one of the eggs or half of the cheese with spinach. Instead of eating a baked potato with butter, try 2 cups of spinach. Replacements like these will help you create a caloric deficit to lose body fat.

Health Benefits

The American Council on Exercise refers to spinach as the "epitome" of health food, but it is so low in calories and so rich in nutrients. Dr. Jonny Bowden, PhD, an clinical nutrition specialist, in his book "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth," lists spinach among the very best, most healthy foods you can eat. A single cup of spinach has 200 percent of your vitamin K daily requirement. Vitamin K helps your bones absorb calcium. Spinach also has large amounts of folic acid, manganese, magnesium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. Spinach is also a food source for quercetin, a strong antioxidant that can prevent your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from being oxidized and clogging your arteries. Quercetin may also decrease your risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Environmental Considerations

Dr. Bowden recommends that you purchase organic spinach if you possibly can. He explains that in 2003, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit consumer protection organization, listed spinach as one of 12 foods that is most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. While buying organic spinach and washing it thoroughly does not guarantee the complete removal of pesticides and other environmental contaminants, it certainly should lower the risk of exposure.

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