Can you eat spinach stems?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat spinach stems?” and discuss who should eat spinach stems.

Can you eat spinach stems?

Yes, you can eat spinach stems. Actually, they may be eaten in the same way as the leaves. Vegetable stalks like kale and spinach stems are usually discarded during the industry processes. However, they can be used as a food source, avoiding food wastes. In a study, food ink recipes were formulated from spinach stems and kale stalks (1).

Why should you eat spinach stems?

You should eat spinach stems due to their nutritional value and to avoid food wastes. Studies show that the stems of spinach have a higher content of Na and K than the leaves. 

Dried powders were prepared with leaves and stems of spinach. The stem powders showed significantly higher contents of 4-hydroxyphenylacetic acid, o-coumaric acid, and p-coumaric acid than the leaf powders (3).

In another study, water and ethanol extracts of leaves and stems of spinach were compared regarding the amount of phenolic compounds, the antioxidant and antiproliferative (action against the proliferation of cancer cells) activities. For all of the properties measured, ethanol extracts of the spinach stems were reported to have better results. 

In this study, it was shown that spinach stems possess improved scavenging capacity against free radicals, which are effective in preventing cancer diseases. Phenolic compounds have neutralizing effects against reactive oxygen species, which contribute to the development of degenerative or pathological processes, such as aging, cancer, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease (4).

How can you eat spinach stems?

You can eat spinach stems cooked or blended. Vegetable stems, due to the more fibrous nature, are recommended to be eaten cooked, as cooking softens the plant tissue. When dried, it can be incorporated in baked goods, increasing the nutritional profile and the fiber quality of breads and cookies. 

Stems can be used to enrich products or as an ingredient, as they are made up of polysaccharides, lignin, resistant oligosaccharides and resistant starch, among others, and can be used in the production of different products: beverages, soups, sauces, desserts, derivatives of milk, biscuits, pasta and bread (2).

Who should eat spinach stems?

Spinach stems or other stems of other vegetables are indicated to people suffering from constipation. Due to the high fiber content of these plant parts, they may benefit the bowel transit by increasing the intestinal motility (5). 

Due to insoluble fiber’s resistance to digestion, foods high in dietary fibers are often prescribed as the first line of treatment for constipation due to its laxative effect. In addition, the polysaccharides, which constitute the dietary fibers, are fermented in the large bowel by the gut microbiota, producing short chain fatty acids, which are related to improved health benefits. 

The inclusion of dietary fibers in the diet, especially from fruits and vegetables, is positively associated with the prevention of certain chronic diseases.

Who should not eat spinach stems?

People who are sensitive to food containing non-digestible carbohydrates should not eat spinach stems or other stems of other vegetables. In high quantities, dietary fibers may cause negative gastrointestinal issues.

These non-digestible carbohydrates (fructose, sugar alcohols, pectins) are dietary fibers, which may cause diarrhea, maldigestion and malabsorption of nutrients in the case of elderly and young children or infants, who have non-optimal digestion capabilities (6). 

What are the nutrients found in spinach  stems?

The nutrients found in spinach stems are similar to the ones found in spinach leaves, namely vitamin C, vitamin E, antioxidants and minerals. 

According to studies, the minerals from spinach stems were 558 mg potassium, 99 mg calcium, 79 mg sodium, 75 mg manganese, 49 mg phosphorus, and 2.7 mg iron in 100g dry weight, respectively. The amounts of vitamins C and E were 28.0 and 2.03 mg/100 dry weights, respectively (7).

Due to the increased amount in phenolic compounds and the high antioxidant capacity of the spinach stem extracts, scientists suggest that spinach stems could be used as a food ingredient to improve the nutritional quality of food, such as jelly.

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?

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Baby Spinach?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat spinach stems?” and we discussed who should eat spinach stems.


  1. Pant, Aakanksha, et al. Valorisation of vegetable food waste utilising three-dimensional food printing. Virtual Physic Prototyp, 2023, 18, e2146593. 
  2. Mauro, Ana Karina, Vera Lúcia Mathias da Silva, and Maria Cristina Jesus Freitas. Caracterização física, química e sensorial de cookies confeccionados com farinha de talo de couve (FTC) e farinha de talo de espinafre (FTE) ricas em fibra alimentar. Food Sci Technol, 2010, 30, 719-728.
  3. Różyło, Renata, et al. Effects of Wet and Dry Micronization on the GC-MS Identification of the Phenolic Compounds and Antioxidant Properties of Freeze-Dried Spinach Leaves and Stems. Molec, 2022, 27, 8174.
  4. Huang, Dong-Jiann, et al. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica Forsk) constituents. Botanical Bulletin of Academia Sinica 46 (2005).
  5. Padayachee, A., et al. Complexity and health functionality of plant cell wall fibers from fruits and vegetables. Crit rev food sci nutr, 2017, 57, 59-81.  
  6. Aggett, Peter J., et al. Nondigestible carbohydrates in the diets of infants and young children: a commentary by the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition. J pediatr gastroenterol nutr, 2003, 36, 329-337.
  7. Algarni, Eman Hassan Ahmed. Extraction of Natural Pigments from Food-Industrial Waste and their Use in the Manufacture of Jelly Candy for a Child. World, 2020, 9, 33-40.

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