Nutrient Decline in Spinach


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Since 1950, the USDA has been collecting measures on the nutritional content of food. In those decades, researchers have noticed a disturbing trend in nutritional decline in garden produce. Spinach is a good example. From 1950 to 1999, spinach showed about a 60% decline in vitamin C, 23% in phosphorus, 22% in iron, and 18% in riboflavin. Though these changes for spinach are not statistically significant, the more general trend toward decline is. Read more about the trend in our article on nutrient decline in garden crops to learn what actions you can take.

Nutrient Change for Spinach

In the table provided here we include the nutritional content of spinach from 1950 and 1999. The 1950 measures for spinach are adjusted for water content — a sample with more water will bias the results. These measures are based on a very small number of data points and none of the apparent individual changes are statistically different, even so, taken together, they suggest that nutrition has decreased in small garden crops.

Nutrient Change In Spinach

Nutrient
1950*
1999
Calories
23.1
22
Protein
2.65
2.86
Fat
.35
.35
Carbohydrates
3.7
3.5
Ash
1.73
1.72
Calcium
93.43
99
Phosphorus
63.44
49
Iron
3.46
2.71
Vitamin A
10865.25
6715
Thiamin
.13
.078
Riboflavin
.23
.189
Niacin
.69
.72
Vitamin C
68.05
28.1

*The 1950 data is adjusted for water content.

Creative Commons License: Share the Knowledge

The figures used to present changes in nutrients in garden produce here are Traditional Foods, including change in spinach, can be redistributed for noncommercial use with a link back to this specific page or to the more general article here.

Data Source

The historical values on the nutritional content of garden crops has been collected and distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture. It was also examined by Davis, Epp, and Riordan whose work we describe on this website. In line with the authors, we adjusted the 1950 spinach nutrient values so that the 1950 and 1999 food samples had the same water content.

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