Does blending spinach ruin it?

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is beloved for its nutritional value. It contains high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide many health benefits. Some people prefer to eat spinach raw in salads or sandwiches, while others like to cook it by sautéing, boiling, or adding it to soups and casseroles. Blending spinach into smoothies has also become a popular way to consume this healthy veggie.

But some people wonder if blending spinach ruins some of its nutrients. There are a few things to consider when deciding whether to blend spinach or not.

Nutritional Overview of Spinach

First, let’s examine why spinach is considered so nutritious in the first place. Here is an overview of the major nutrients found in spinach (based on a 100g serving):

  • Vitamin K – 604% DV. Important for blood clotting.
  • Vitamin A – 56% DV. Key for eye health.
  • Folate – 15% DV. Crucial for cell growth and DNA synthesis.
  • Vitamin C – 14% DV. Boosts immune function.
  • Manganese – 30% DV. Involved in metabolism and bone health.
  • Vitamin B2 – 11% DV. Needed for red blood cell production.
  • Potassium – 12% DV. Important electrolyte for fluid balance.
  • Calcium – 10% DV. Essential for bone health.
  • Iron – 10% DV. Required for oxygen transport in blood.
  • Magnesium – 12% DV. Needed for muscle and nerve function.

Spinach also provides antioxidants like lutein, zeaxanthin, quercetin and kaempferol which help fight inflammation and oxidative damage in the body.

Effects of Blending on Nutrients

When you blend or process spinach, it ruptures the plant’s cell walls and allows you to consume the nutrients inside more easily. The spinach can be broken down better than just chewing, especially for compounds like carotenoids which are bound inside tough cell walls.

However, there are some potential downsides to blending spinach:

  • Blending raw spinach releases oxalic acid which can bind to calcium and reduce its absorption. Cooking helps deactivate oxalates.
  • The vitamin C in spinach degrades when exposed to heat, water, and air. Blending accelerates this oxidation process.
  • Blending makes the spinach nutrients more bioaccessible, but also speeds up nutrient deterioration. Drinking right away minimizes losses.

Overall, research shows blending spinach provides both benefits and drawbacks when it comes to nutrition:

Benefits Drawbacks
  • Increases carotenoid absorption
  • Improves digestion of fibers and proteins
  • Retains some heat-sensitive vitamins
  • Oxalic acid release may inhibit calcium absorption
  • Degrades vitamin C and folate content
  • Destroys thylakoid membranes which contain antioxidants

Ways to Minimize Nutrient Loss When Blending

If you want to blend spinach and maximize nutrient retention, here are some tips:

  • Blanch spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds before blending to deactivate oxalates.
  • Choose baby spinach leaves which are more tender and contain fewer oxalates.
  • Blend spinach with foods high in vitamin C like citrus juices to prevent oxidation.
  • Consume the smoothie immediately after blending, rather than letting it sit.
  • Blend spinach with probiotics like yogurt to improve mineral absorption.
  • Add nuts or seeds to provide calcium and healthy fats that aid carotenoid absorption.

Most Important Nutrients Retained When Blending Spinach

According to studies, here are some of the top nutrients that remain stable or even increase when spinach is blended:

  • Beta-carotene: Blending breaks down cell walls, releasing more beta-carotene for absorption. One study found 3x more became bioaccessible.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: These carotenoids are also better absorbed when spinach is pureed or processed.
  • Vitamin K: This fat-soluble vitamin is reasonably heat stable and not significantly degraded during blending.
  • Nitrates: These compounds are unaffected by processing and provide cardio-protective benefits.
  • Magnesium and potassium: These important minerals remain intact when spinach is blended.

Should You Avoid Blending Spinach Altogether?

Given the potential downsides, should you avoid tossing raw spinach into your morning smoothies? Not necessarily.

Blending does result in some nutrient losses, but it also substantially increases the absorption of beneficial compounds like carotenoids. Some reduction in vitamin C, folate and calcium can occur, but spinach still provides a very nutrient-dense, low-calorie food that offers significant health benefits.

Research suggests the carotenoid boost outweighs other nutrient losses overall. One study compared whole spinach to blended spinach and found that although vitamin C declined by 66% with blending, total antioxidant capacity only decreased by 12%.

Just be sure to blend and consume spinach smoothies promptly, and combine spinach with foods that mitigate the nutrient losses. Blending moderately sized portions of spinach to integrate it into your diet is better than not consuming it at all.

For those concerned about getting the maximum nutrition, alternating between raw spinach salads and smoothies provides a good balance.

Best Fruits and Vegetables to Blend with Spinach

To offset any potential downsides of blending spinach, you can include other fruits and vegetables in your green smoothies. Good options include:

  • Kiwi: Rich in vitamin C to prevent oxidation of spinach’s nutrients.
  • Pineapple: Contains bromelain to improve protein breakdown and absorption.
  • Lemon: Vitamin C boosts iron absorption from spinach.
  • Berry medley: Mixed berries add flavor plus vitamin C.
  • Mango: Sweetness balances spinach’s taste; good source of vitamin A.
  • Banana: Provides potassium to replace any losses from spinach.
  • Avocado: Healthy fats increase carotenoid absorption from spinach.

When assembling your spinach smoothies, combining fruits and veggies in this manner ensures you maximize the nutritional perks of blending spinach while reducing any possible downsides.


Overall, blending spinach does provide some benefits in terms of making certain nutrients like carotenoids and minerals more bioaccessible. However, the mechanical and oxidative damage during blending can degrade or inhibit absorption of some other compounds. To mitigate drawbacks, blanch spinach briefly before blending, blend with vitamin C-rich fruits, and drink smoothies promptly. Including spinach as part of balanced diet – whether blended or eaten raw in salads – offers a wide range of health benefits.

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