Spinach is known for its many health benefits, but can it have unpleasant side effects like gas and bloating?
Spinach contains high amounts of insoluble fiber. Eating too much can cause abdominal discomforts such as gas and bloating. Spinach also contains salicylate, which some people may be allergic to.
Check out whether or not the type of spinach matters and what you can do to avoid that uncomfortable gas and bloating below!
Can Spinach Give you Gas or Make You Fart?
Eating spinach can cause gas if you eat too much of it because it is rich in fiber. This is true for fresh, frozen, and canned spinach, as will be explained in the next section.
Why Does Spinach Make me Gassy?
Spinach has high levels of fiber, particularly insoluble fiber (source: Journal of Food Science and Technology.) Eating more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fiber for the day, or eating beyond what you’re used to, will lead to consequences like gas and bloating.
According to a study on the nutritional content of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables, the fiber content of vegetables, including spinach, didn’t change very much during storage or processing.
Generally, the fiber content of fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables was similar (source: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture).
The RDA for fiber for different age groups is the following:
- Women under 50 years old: 25–28 g
- Men under 50 years old: 31–34 g
- Women over 51 years old: 22 g
- Men over 51 years old: 28 g
(source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans)
A bunch of spinach, about 340 g, has a fiber content of approximately 7.48 g. That’s about a quarter of the RDA for the day (source: USDA). While this may not be too much spinach, remember that spinach wilts and reduces its size dramatically when cooked.
If you eat other fiber-rich foods throughout the day, you might go beyond the limit.
Fiber has many health benefits, such as positive effects on gut health, insulin sensitivity, management of cardiovascular diseases, and overall metabolic health (source: Nutrients).
However, eating too much fiber may cause adverse effects such as gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, or constipation.
While fiber can bind cholesterol and fat in the diet, it can also bind iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc, which means they won’t be absorbed by the body.
Another con of eating too much fiber is that it can cause intestinal blockage, especially if you don’t drink enough fluids (source: Duke University).
Insoluble fiber is not soluble in water. It passes through the gut quickly, doesn’t ferment, and is left undigested. This may result in slight discomfort. If you eat a lot of insoluble fiber, the discomfort will be magnified.
Spinach also contains salicylate, which some people don’t react well to. Salicylate allergy can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and colitis, which can all cause bloating and gas (source: WebMD).
Furthermore, since spinach helps regulate insulin, too much of it might lower your blood sugar. This is not good if you already have low blood sugar (source: Nutrients).
How Do I Avoid Spinach Making Me Fart?
What happens if you want to eat nutritious spinach but don’t want the consequences that come with its fiber content? The answer is to not eat too much of it, and don’t eat it with other insoluble-fiber-rich vegetables or fruits.
Eating spinach raw or cooked won’t make much difference, for the reasons described above.
Here are some of the most common high-fiber foods you might not want to consume with spinach:
- Fiber supplements
- Ready-to-eat cereal
- Navy beans
- Small white beans
- Yellow beans
- Lima beans
- Most beans
- Sapote or Sapodilla
(source: Dietary Guidelines)
Moreover, here are some tips to help you reduce the feeling of bloating or gas but still enjoy fibrous foods:
- Strategize which fibrous foods you will eat with each meal. If you’re eating a granola bar for breakfast, you may eat spinach for dinner to give your digestion a chance to catch up.
- Substitute high-fiber foods for lower-fiber ones. For example, instead of eating raspberries, swap them for plums or peaches.
- If you don’t want to consume a lot of fiber but still want the nutrients from your fruits and vegetables, you may extract their juices using a juicer.
If you have any medical conditions, especially if they involve blood glucose or digestion, we recommend seeing your doctor to discuss fiber intake.
We hope this article helped shed some light on this topic!