Is Spinach High In Protein? (A Nutritionist Explains)

While vegetables are not very high in protein compared with animal-based protein sources, some vegetables are higher in protein than others. 

So, what about spinach? Is it high in protein or not?

For a vegetable, spinach is moderate in protein since it contains 2.9 g per 100 g serving. However, it is not a high-quality protein source like chicken or other animal-based proteins. Unlike animal proteins, spinach does not have all the essential amino acids your body needs, making it an incomplete protein source.

Even though spinach isn’t a high-quality protein source, it is still a good food to include in your diet because it’s full of other vitamins and minerals. 

In this article, I will discuss the protein content in spinach and other health benefits you can get from it. I will also discuss how the quality of protein in spinach compares with that of the protein found in meat.

What’s Considered “High In Protein”?

Based on my experience as a registered dietitian, a vegetable is considered high in protein when it has more than 3.0 g of protein per 100 g. 

A food fits into one of several categories, depending on its nature (i.e., whether it’s a vegetable, carbohydrate, fat, fruit, or protein).

For example, a food like tuna belongs to the protein category because it’s made up largely of protein (23.3 g per 100 g) and is low in fat and carbohydrates.

On the other hand, vegetables are not known to be very high in protein. 

Some vegetables supply less than 1 g of protein per 100 g. In 100 g of celery, for example, you only get 0.7 g of protein.

How Many Grams of Protein Are in a Serving of Spinach?

In 100 g of raw spinach, you get 2.9 g of protein. It can be considered a moderate-protein vegetable based on the guidelines above.

While spinach doesn’t have the calories or protein, it can help add a couple of grams if you have trouble reaching your daily protein intake.

Does Raw or Cooked Spinach Have More Protein?

Cooked spinach has 3.0 g of protein, while raw spinach has 2.9 g. The 0.1 g increase in cooked spinach is due to the increased density per serving of cooked spinach. In other words, you have to consume a lot more cooked spinach to get to 100 g than you do to get to 100 g of raw spinach.

While the 0.1 g difference doesn’t represent much, there is a large difference in the amounts of vitamins and minerals between raw and cooked vegetables. 

A study showed a significant nutrient reduction (50-70%) when you cook vegetables. However, there is a greater reduction in water-soluble vitamins (which dissolve in water), such as the ones from the B complex and vitamin C, than the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K (which dissolve in a fat source like olive oil). 

Protein in Spinach Compared With Other Vegetables

The following table compares the protein and calorie content of several raw vegetables in 100 g of each product.

IngredientsCaloriesProtein (g)
Cremini mushrooms243.1
Red bell pepper270.9

As you can see, most vegetables offer less than one gram of protein. This means that vegetables are not the best source of protein.

However, spinach is within the top vegetables with the highest protein content, along with mushrooms, kale, and broccoli

Does Spinach Have More Protein Than Meat?

Spinach does not have more protein than meat. For example, ground beef has 22.0 g of protein per serving (100 g). Raw spinach, on the other hand, has only 2.9 g of protein. 

You also can’t compare the protein quality between spinach and meat. 

Protein is made up of amino acids. Your body can produce some amino acids (meaning they are non-essential amino acids), while you need to get other amino acids through your diet (meaning they are essential). 

Animal sources of protein are high-quality since they contain all the essential amino acids your protein needs: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. 

On the other hand, vegetable sources tend to be low-quality protein since they don’t contain all the amino acids you need.

For example, research shows that spinach only provides 40% of the essential amino acids.

So, not only does meat offer you more protein, but it also offers you a higher quality protein since it contains all the amino acids you need. 

Other Health Benefits of Spinach

other health benefits of spinach

Even though spinach isn’t a high-quality protein source, it has several other benefits.

1. Spinach Is High in Fiber

One of the benefits of spinach is its high fiber content. In 100 g of spinach, you get 2.2 g of fiber, around 9% of the daily recommended value. 

Consuming high-fiber foods can increase your fullness levels, which can help you lose weight. Since fiber takes longer to digest, your stomach feels full for longer. A reduction in your hunger levels means you are less likely to snack throughout the day, making it easier to keep your caloric intake low. 

Another benefit of fiber is that it helps reduce your cholesterol levels. Fiber acts like a broom in your body, sweeping away everything you don’t want in your bloodstream. 

Fiber also helps fight constipation. Ensure you consume 25 to 30 g of fiber daily to get enough to have good bowel movements. 

2. Spinach is High in Micronutrients

Spinach is a nutrient-dense food. This means you get a lot of nutrients in a small amount of food.

For example, 100 g of raw spinach contains 188% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A, 604% of vitamin K, and 49% of folate.

Here are some of the benefits you get from the nutrients in spinach:

  • Vitamin A. It is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation in your body and boost your immune system
  • Vitamin K. It helps to strengthen your bones
  • Folate. It helps convert the food you eat into usable energy in the body. Allowing you to have enough energy for the day. 

3. Spinach is High in Nitrates

Nitrates are a compound naturally found in spinach. Many people know nitrates as a preservative found in deli meats and other processed meats like sausage. There is some controversy surrounding nitrates because they can increase the risk of cancer.

However, the problem arises when nitrates can become nitrosamines (cancer-causing substances) due to the interaction with protein. Since vegetables are not high in protein, the presence of nitrates in spinach doesn’t have the same impact.

When consumed via foods like spinach that are natural nitrate sources, nitrates are turned into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax your blood vessels, widening them and allowing more oxygen and nutrients to get to your muscles and organs.

Nitric oxide can also help reduce your blood pressure. In a study, those who had a greater consumption of nitrates had a reduction of 3 to 4 points in their blood pressure.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Spinach a Good Source of Protein?

Spinach is a decent source of protein compared to other vegetables. It cannot compare to a food like tuna since it offers 23.3 g of protein per 100 g. However, spinach can have 2 to 3 times the protein as other vegetables. For example, 100 g of spinach has 2.9 g of protein, while 100 g of celery has 0.7 g of protein. 

What Has More Protein: Chicken or Spinach?

Chicken has more protein than spinach. Chicken breast has 22.5 g of protein per 100 g, while spinach has 2.9 g. There is also a big difference in the quality of the protein. Chicken has all 9 essential amino acids, while spinach only has a significant amount (>5%) of isoleucine and valine. 


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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.