St. Patrick’s Day abounds with all things green: Shamrocks, leprechauns and foods of all sorts. With a little addition of green dye, any food can become a part of the Irish celebration: Eggs, cookies, bread or beer. And just as easily, this holiday could turn into a calorie overload.
But amidst the revelry, let’s pause for a moment and consider what foods naturally pay homage to the color of this Irish celebration: Greens! Naturally green foods, like kale, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard offer a bigger nutritional bang for the buck than most other foods. Consider that two cups of spinach (an average serving for a salad) naturally provides:
- More vitamin A than two large carrots
- As much vitamin C as seven to eight lemon wedges
- About 350% of our daily needs of vitamin K, a nutrient vital for blood clotting and wound repair
- More folate than two cups of whole wheat flour
- Almost the same amount of iron as a hamburger
Not only that, it’s also a good source of fiber, calcium, vitamin E, many other B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and zinc. Your body needs all of these nutrients to function properly, and dark leafy greens like spinach allow you to maximize your nutrient intake (i.e. vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.) while minimizing your calorie intake. So just how many calories are in those two cups of fresh spinach? About 14 calories.