How to measure a cup of spinach?

In this brief guide, we will answer ‘how to measure a cup of spinach?’ Also, we will see the nutritional profile and health profile of spinach and see the correct way to measure spinach.

How to measure a cup of spinach?

To measure a cup of raw spinach simply strip the stems off and chop the leaves, but if the recipe calls for full leaf don’t chop them similarly if the recipe calls for baby spinach keep the stems intact.

Simply pack the leaves in your measuring cup and give a little tap on the counter and add more leaves if needed. Tapping is to eliminate any void in the cup so the cup fills to its max potential.

Cooked spinach is easier to weigh as the leaves shrink dramatically after being cooked which makes it easy to measure. Simply cook the spinach as the recipe calls for, pack your cooked spinach in a measuring cup, tap and you get a cup of cooked spinach.  

Chef Intro

What is spinach?

Spinach is an annual plant grown in temperate regions exclusively for its leaves. Soon after the seedling stage, plants assume a rosette growth habit with many fleshy leaves attached to a short stem. Leaf blades range from ovate or nearly triangular to long and narrow arrowhead shapes. Spinach is a traditional potherb, but it is widely used uncooked in salads. It is also processed by canning and freezing (1). Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is not only healthy but is nutritious and packed with a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Spinach can help reduce oxidative stress, help prevent cancer, reduce blood pressure levels and can benefit your eye health.

There are a variety of ways you can enjoy your spinach whether you buy them fresh or canned or eat them cooked or raw. It is delicious on its own or with other dishes.

What is the nutritional profile of spinach?

Spinach is low in carbs and high in insoluble fiber. This fiber can help your health by aiding proper digestion. Spinach is also an excellent source with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin E, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. The phytochemicals of most importance are the carotenoids, β-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin and phenolic compounds (2).

Further breakdown of spinach nutritional facts is mentioned below;

Nutrition fact for 3.5 ounces or 100 gm of raw spinach
Calories23
Water91%
Proteins2.9 gm
Carbs3.6 gm
Sugars0.4 gm
Fiber2.2 gm
Fat0.4 gm

What health benefits does spinach provide?

Spinach provides the following health benefits;

Oxidative stress

Spinach contains many antioxidants that help fight off the cellular damage that is caused by the free radicals. The main compounds related to this property are carotenoids and phenolic compounds. Carotenoids are a group of yellow-orange-red pigments that are especially effective in quenching singlet oxygen and peroxyl radicals in the body (2).  

Phenolic compounds are a large group of secondary plant products, present in most if not all plants. They differ in chemical structure and reactivity, but all have at least one benzene ring with a hydroxyl group bound to a carbon atom. Chemical structures range from quite simple compounds such as caffeic acid to highly polymerised substances such as tannins. There are numerous different groups of phenolics but the most common phenolic compounds found in foods are generally phenolic acids, flavonoids, lignans, stilbenes, coumarins and tannins (2). 

Oxidative stress can lead to a number of health diseases including risks of cancer, strokes and diabetes.

Eye health

Spinach is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein. These are carotenoids that are responsible for the color of vegetables. A human eye contains high amounts of these carotenoids that protect your eyes from damage caused by sunlight.

These carotenoids also aid to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts which are major causes of blindness. Spinach contains some of the largest amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin from vegetable sources (2).

Cancer prevention

Spinach contains monogalactosyl diacylglycerol (MGDG), digalactosyl diacylglycerol (DGDG), and sulfoquinovosyl diacylglycerol (SQDG), glycolipids  MGDG and SQDG that is linked to slowing down cancer growth. They act as DNA-polymerase inhibitors and could therefore be employed as anti-cancer chemotherapy agents, because they inhibit cell proliferation (3). 

These compounds are effective against tumor growth in the cervix, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Spinach also packs in a number of antioxidants within them that may help to reduce tumor production and help fight off cancer. There are many ways in which the antioxidant compounds (phenolic and carotenoids) may act to prevent cancer, including inducing detoxification enzymes, inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and promoting cell differentiation (2).

Blood pressure

Spinach contains high amounts of nitrates that helps to moderate blood pressure levels and decreases the risk of other heart diseases. Spinach contains saponins and tends to readily accumulate high levels of nitrates. When spinach is ingested, nitrate ions oxidize blood hemoglobin, forming methemoglobin which interferes with blood oxygen transport. However, nitrates also form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic compounds (1).

Some flavonoids further help to prevent heart disease through inhibiting blood platelet aggregation and providing antioxidant protection for low density lipoprotein (2).

What are other ways to measure spinach?

There are many ways you can measure out the spinach needed as per the recipe or your need calls for.

Recipes call for a specific amount like a cup or pound of spinach, while some call for cooked or uncooked spinach. Use the appropriate measurement tool as per the recipe.

A cup using a measuring cup – simply trim the stems or leave them intact as the recipe calls for. Pack the spinach leaves tightly in your measuring cup.

Pack purchased by weight – while purchasing spinach, you can either ask the seller or purchase the pack according to your need.

Cooked spinach – you can measure cooked or thawed spinach by squeezing or drying any excess water out then packing it tightly into a measuring cup.

Using scales – according to the US measurement system, a cup of spinach is equal to 30 gm of spinach in a cup. You can simply put spinach on your kitchen scale till it displays 30 gm in weight.

Fist measurement – fastest way of measuring when you are in a rush is using your fist. Your fist is equal to a cup of any uncooked or cooked, frozen or thawed vegetable. But for longer vegetables cut them into pieces first.

How to store spinach for longer shelf life? Refer here.

Other FAQs about Spinach that you may be interested in.

How much spinach should I eat a day?

How much spinach should you eat?

 How to Drain Spinach

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered ‘how to measure a cup of spinach?’  Also, we saw the nutritional profile and health profile of spinach and the correct way to measure spinach.

Hopefully, you find this guide useful. If you have any questions or comments please do let us know.

Citation

  1. Rubatzky V.E., Yamaguchi M. Spinach, Table Beets, and Other Vegetable Chenopods. 2017, In: World Vegetables. Springer, Boston, MA.   
  2. Hedges, L. J., and C. E. Lister. Nutritional attributes of spinach, silverbeet and eggplant. Crop Food Res Confidential Rep, 2007, 1928.
  3. Maeda, Naoki, et al. Anti-tumor effects of the glycolipids fraction from spinach which inhibited DNA polymerase activity. Nutr cancer, 2007, 57, 216-223.