Can you eat spinach raw?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat spinach raw?” and discuss how to ensure a safe consumption of raw spinach. Regular ingestion of spinach may improve blood glucose management in diabetics, reduce cancer risk, and improve bone health.

Can you eat spinach raw?

Yes, you can eat spinach raw. Spinach can be eaten cooked or raw. The nutritional profile of vegetables may change by cooking, as well as their flavor and texture. Both raw and cooked spinach are considered healthy.

However, raw vegetables may be contaminated with microorganisms and parasites and must, therefore, be thoroughly sanitized (1).

What happens when you cook spinach?

When you cook spinach, there is a loss in its vitamin C content. A study showed that, by cooking, the vitamin C of spinach decreased 92%. Cooking also leads to moisture loss, and softening of the tissue. Slight changes in the color are observed and there is an increase of the concentration of beta-carotene and some minerals, mostly due to water loss (2).

It is generally recognized by numerous studies that common cooking methods do not lead to significant losses of macronutrients, such as carbohydrate, protein, and fat, or of minerals. However, significant losses are observed by the vitamins, especially the water soluble and heat labile vitamins. By cooking vegetables, vitamin C is one of the most affected vitamins.

When a vegetable is cooked, its microbial load is reduced, thus decreasing the risks related to the consumption of raw products.

What are the risks when eating spinach raw?

The risks related to the consumption of raw spinach is of having a foodborne illness. Raw or slightly cooked vegetables, although having their taste and their nutrient contents preserved, acts as a potential source of various food-borne infections and disease outbreaks (3).

Common methods of cooking are sufficient to reduce the microbial contamination of food in most of the cases. The mild heat treatment kills vegetative forms of microorganisms, although is not severe enough to kill bacterial spores.

Consuming raw vegetables increases the risks of a foodborne illness significantly, and therefore vegetables must be properly washed and cooked prior to the consumption by susceptible people.

Possible symptoms of a foodborne illness are diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramping, fever, and headache. However, many individuals suffering from food outbreaks are asymptomatic. 

What is the best way to cook spinach and why?

The best way to cook spinach in order to preserve its original properties is conventional cooking in boiling water. As mentioned earlier in the article, the vitamin C of spinach decreased 92%. 

This loss is observed by any cooking method, according to a study comparing the nutrient losses in spinach when cooked by boiling in water, pressure cooking and microwave cooking. However, the sensory analysis indicated higher ratings for cooked spinach when the conventional method was used.

Better texture and better aroma was observed when spinach was boiled in water, when compared to other cooking methods, while the color did not show significant differences. In addition, cooking spinach in boiling water resulted in higher amounts of Calcium, Phosphorus and Iron, when compared with microwave and pressure cooking methods (2).

How to prepare raw spinach to maximize safety?

To prepare spinach to be consumed raw, spinach must be properly washed and sanitized. In addition, the best hygiene practices must be followed regarding personal cleanliness and sanitizing of the utensils used. Effective hand washing using soap and running water is required prior to the food preparation.

To avoid cross-contamination between raw foods and ready-to-eat foods, these should be well-separated. Food-contact surfaces and equipment, such as containers should be cleaned thoroughly. 

Spinach leaves must be washed in running water. Sanitize the vegetables by soaking them in a mixture of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water for 5-10 minutes. Rinse the vegetables again with clean water to remove any remaining bleach residue (4).

Who should not eat spinach raw?

People who are particularly susceptible to foodborne diseases should not eat raw spinach. They are not recommended to eat any raw vegetables. These individuals include the very young, the elderly, and the immune compromised, as well as pregnant women, cancer patients, diabetics and patients submitted to dialysis treatments.

Because their immune system is weakened, they have increased susceptibility to foodborne diseases. Vulnerable individuals have a greater than 100-fold increase in susceptibility of having an infection through  ingestion of contaminated food (1).

Why should you eat raw spinach?

You should eat raw spinach due to its high concentrations in vitamin C, which is lost during cooking. Cooking affects the amounts of vitamin B also, as folates decrease as spinach is boiled or steamed (2). 

A 100-g serving of spinach contains 47% of the RDA for vitamin C. It has been reported that raw spinach may have lipid lowering effects in blood. This property, however, is not likely to be the same for raw and cooked spinach, as boiling changes the constitution of spinach (5).

Other FAQs about Spinach that you may be interested in.

How much spinach should you eat?

How to Drain Spinach 

How much spinach should I eat a day?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat spinach raw?” and we discussed what are the risks of eating raw spinach.


  1. Lund, Barbara M. Microbiological Food Safety for Vulnerable People. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2015, 12, 10117..
  2. Kala, A., and Jamuna Prakash. Nutrient composition and sensory profile of differently cooked green leafy vegetables. Int J Food Prop, 2004, 7, 659-669..
  3. Choma, C., et al. Prevalence, characterization and growth of Bacillus cereus in commercial cooked chilled foods containing vegetables. J Appl Microbiol, 2000, 88, 617-625.
  4. McGlynn, William. Guidelines for the use of chlorine bleach as a sanitizer in food processing operations. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, 2004.
  5. Lasya, Chokkara Sri. Spinach and its health benefits: A review. Pharma Innov J, 2022, 1232-1239.