Is Spinach Low FODMAP? Find Out From Experts’ Opinion In [UK] 2023
Irritable bowel syndrome affects between 5% and 10% of the population. It is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder in which abdominal pain and changes in stool — in form or frequency — occur without any signs of disease. Thus, it is a syndrome of symptoms only. For many, IBS is triggered by eating specific foods, specifically FODMAPs.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di- and monosaccharides, and polyols — carbohydrates associated with IBS symptoms. A low-FODMAP diet has been studied as a management strategy for IBS. While more research is needed to determine whether a low-FODMAP diet is more effective than clinical diets prescribed for IBS, evidence shows a positive impact in reducing IBS symptoms.
Foods that are low in nondigestible carbohydrates are the foundation of a low-FODMAP diet. But is spinach low-FODMAP? Here’s what you need to know.
Is Spinach FODMAP Friendly?
Yes, spinach is a low FODMAP food when consumed in moderation. Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, i.e., IBS, generally tolerate small portions very well. Since spinach contains fructans, carbohydrates that can cause digestive disorders, it may trigger IBS symptoms in sensitive individuals when consumed in large quantities.
Spinach Nutrition Benefits
Spinach — Spinacia oleracea — is a leafy green vegetable from the Amaranth family. Like many leafy green veggies, raw spinach is low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. It is also high in essentials like iron and folate as well as antioxidants, which provide notable health benefits.
A serving size of 100 grams, i.e., about 3.5 ounces, of raw spinach contains:
- 23 calories.
- 3.63 grams of carbohydrate.
- 2.86 grams of protein.
- 0.39 grams of fat.
- 2.2 grams of dietary fiber.
- 0.42 grams of sugar.
Raw spinach contains less than half a gram of sugar — primarily glucose and fructose. The fructose content may have you ask, “Is spinach a low-FODMAP food?” It depends on the serving size.
Research indicates that fructose malabsorption is a common trigger of IBS symptoms. In some patients, a low-fructose diet has been found to reduce diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Spinach is generally considered to be a low-fructose alternative to vegetables like broccoli, onion, and red pepper.
Recommended Portion Of Spinach On FODMAP Diet
According to the USDA, the recommended portion of raw spinach is about 100 grams. Wilted spinach — boiled and drained — has the same serving size despite its reduction in volume. If you’re concerned about FODMAPs, however, you may need to reduce these serving sizes.
Monash University, the developer of the low-FODMAP diet, notes that FODMAP content depends on the variety and serving size of spinach. Monash indicates that portions up to 75 grams of baby spinach are considered low-FODMAP. English spinach, however, is FODMAP-free and can be safely eaten in unlimited amounts by people with IBS.
How To Include Spinach Into Your FODMAP Diet
A simple Internet search will reveal a wealth of low-FODMAP spinach recipes, but you don’t necessarily need a recipe to enjoy spinach. Yet, here are a few delicious ones to try:
- Combine spinach with other low-FODMAP ingredients in a blender to create a vitamin-rich smoothie for breakfast or snacks.
- Cook spinach with a small amount of olive oil and garlic in a skillet over medium heat until just wilted and serve it as a warm side dish.
- Add color and flavor to low-FODMAP pasta dishes by adding a handful of spinach to the pasta water for about 60 seconds before draining.
- Give your scrambled eggs or omelet a boost of protein and fiber by adding some baby spinach to the mix.
- Add fresh or frozen spinach to your favorite low-FODMAP soups and stews — just mind your portions because cooked spinach seems smaller than fresh.
- Toss fresh spinach with your favorite salad ingredients and flavor with freshly grated parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Top your sandwiches with fresh spinach and other low-FODMAP vegetables to increase the nutrient content and flavor.
If you’re concerned about weight loss, try supplementing with low-calorie cooking methods like steaming or boiling. For lactose-free options, use a flavorful cooking oil like coconut oil instead of butter and skip the cheese.
FODMAP-Friendly Recipes With Spinach
If you prefer to follow a recipe, here are a few simple options. Try combining these recipes with a deliverable low-FODMAP meal plan.
- 1 ½ pounds fresh spinach.
- 1 tablespoon butter.
- 1 tablespoon garlic-infused oil.
- ½ cup lactose-free cream.
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg.
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan.
- Salt and pepper.
- Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- When the butter has melted, add spinach and cook until wilted, tossing frequently.
- Transfer the spinach to a colander and press out as much liquid as possible using a wooden spoon.
- Reheat the skillet over medium heat and add the cream and nutmeg.
- Bring to a simmer while whisking and cook for 5 minutes until reduced slightly.
- Stir in the cooked spinach and parmesan, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook for another 5 minutes until heated through. Serve the dish immediately.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
- 1 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts.
- 2 tablespoons garlic-infused oil.
- 8 ounces of lactose-free cream cheese.
- ½ cup mayonnaise.
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese,
- ½ teaspoon salt.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Rinse and drain the artichoke hearts, then toss with oil and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Season with salt, then bake for 15 minutes.
- Chop the artichoke hearts and add them to a food processor with the remaining ingredients.
- Pulse a few times, then blend the mixture until smooth.
- Spoon into an ovenproof dish and bake for 20 minutes until heated through.
Spinach Stuffed Meatloaf
- 8 ounces raw spinach.
- 2 ½ pounds lean ground beef.
- 2 ½ cups low-FODMAP bread, cubed.
- 1 cup FODMAP-friendly marinara sauce.
- ½ cup sliced scallions, green parts only.
- 2 large eggs.
- ⅓ cup fresh chopped parsley.
- 2 teaspoons dried basil.
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano.
- Salt and pepper.
- ½ pound sliced provolone cheese.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Steam the spinach until just wilted, then drain and press to release as much liquid as possible.
- Combine the beef, breadcrumbs, marinara, scallions, eggs, oil, and herbs in a large bowl.
- Season well with salt and pepper, then combine the mix by hand.
- Turn the mixture out onto a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and pat it into a large rectangle.
- Top with slices of provolone, then spoon the spinach mixture over them.
- Lift the edge of the parchment to fold the meatloaf mixture over itself.
- Pat the meat mixture around the filling and turn the loaf seam-side down.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until cooked through. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Individuals with IBS may find that avoiding FODMAP foods helps regulate their gut health and relieve digestive symptoms. In smaller portion sizes, baby spinach is a low-FODMAP food, and English spinach is FODMAP-free.
It’s easy to incorporate spinach into a healthy diet for weight loss, but IBS sufferers may find it beneficial to consult a FODMAP-trained dietitian for specific dietary advice. You can also find helpful resources and low-FODMAP recipes on the Monash University website.
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