What Are the Benefits of Spinach if You Are Diabetic?

The American Diabetes Association calls spinach a diabetes superfood and recommends that you regularly include this dark green leafy non-starchy vegetable in your diet. Besides being rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, spinach possesses a low glycemic index, which means eating it will help support healthy and stable blood glucose levels.

bowl filled with fresh spinach leaves (Image: Teleginatania/iStock/Getty Images)


close up of fresh spinach leaves (Image: Robert Burnside/Hemera/Getty Images)

Spinach is exceptionally low in calories. One cup of raw spinach contains only 7 calories. The fact that spinach contains so few calories is a major benefit to persons with diabetes. This is because one of the goals of a healthy diabetes diet is to promote a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing just 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight can help improve your blood glucose levels as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol.


baby spinach in garden (Image: Sylvie Bouchard/iStock/Getty Images)

All non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrate -- about 5 grams per cup -- but spinach is particularly low in carbohydrates, containing only 0.83 grams per cup. The fact that spinach contains so few carbohydrates makes it an excellent choice on a diabetes diet. Carbohydrate-containing foods cause your blood glucose levels to rise. This means that you must restrict your carbohydrate intake in order to control your glucose. A healthy diabetes meal includes about 45 grams to 65 grams of carbohydrates, according to the American Diabetes Association.


small spinach salad (Image: Alejandro Salvador Mir/iStock/Getty Images)

Your diabetes diet should include at least three to five servings of non-starchy vegetables per day, A serving size equals 1-cup raw or 1/2-cup cooked. Spinach is one of the only foods on a diabetes diet where more is better. Because spinach contains so few calories and carbohydrates, it is almost like a "free" food. This means that you can load up on spinach in order to curb your hunger without jeopardizing your diabetes health. So the next time you finish a meal and are still feeling hungry, instead of going for seconds, try preparing a simple spinach salad with diced tomato, ground black pepper and balsamic vinegar.


healthy spinach crepes (Image: Ildiko Papp/iStock/Getty Images)

Plain raw spinach contains 0 milligrams of cholesterol and 0.12 grams of total fat, per serving. In order to keep these figures low, avoid preparing your spinach in butter or other high-fat sauces. Creamed spinach, for instance, does not make a particularly healthy choice. Flavorful -- and healthy -- dishes that call for spinach include whole wheat manicotti shells, spinach and low-fat ricotta cheese crepes or a veggie quesadilla on a whole grain soft tortilla.

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