Spinach, as we know it, is Popeye’s superfood. That’s why it’s already common knowledge that eating spinach is, in fact, healthy for you. Moreover, because of its good color, people believe that spinach is healthy for you, like all the other green plants.
It is thought to have originated in the ancient nation of Persia, and is now available in most parts of the world. In cuisine, it is present as a stuffing, it is raw a salad filler, a green in pastas, soups and stews, as well as a salad of its own, enjoyed with sesame oil and salt. (1) (2)
Spinach shrinks a lot when it is cooked, that is why you always have to put more than you think you need. This is a hefty little fact, making you serve more spinach, than you think you are really serving.
While it is common knowledge that spinach is healthy for you, did you ever wonder the specific health benefits of this leafy green?
Here are the various health benefits of spinach.
Spinach has a lot of nutrients
Spinach can be served raw or cooked. Scientifically, cooking kills some nutrients in spinach.
A one cupful serving of spinach has: 7 calories, 0.86 grams of protein, 30 milligrams of calcium, 0.81 grams of iron, 24 milligrams of magnesium, 167 milligrams of potassium, 2813 interational units (IU) of Vitamin A, 58 micrograms of folate and Vitamin K, fiber, phosphorus and thiamine. (2)
Additionally, a 100-gram serving of spinach contains 28.1 micrograms of Vitamin C, 34% of the recommended daily intake. (2)
Iron is important in the body, as it binds with the oxygen atoms to transport it within the bloodstream. Iron is also important in giving the body energy, making it effective in eliminating fatigue and its sources. It is found in large amounts in the red blood cells and plays a vital role in the immune system as it treats anemia, boosts hemoglobin levels, restores good sleeping habits and improves concentration. (3)
Spinach is one of the best sources of dietary magnesium. Magnesium is essential for bone formation, and maintenance of the bones. It is also an important mineral that aids in more calcium absorption, improving bone health and prevents osteoporosis. It is also effective in preventing diabetes and improving heart health. Some short-term effects of magnesium are: it can relieve anxiety and premenstrual syndromes, as well as treat migraines or headaches. (4)
While the calcium that is found in spinach is less readily absorbed than calcium found in other sources, because it is bound with oxalate and is not free-existing, the high amounts of magnesium that is present in it stimulated calcium absorption. (1)
Potassium, supports a low blood pressure and promotes a good cardiovascular health. A diet with sufficient potassium can prevent fatigue and its sources, muscle weakness, as well as constipation. While it is largely found in beans, and bananas, potassium can also be found in spinach in large amounts. (5)
Spinach can help manage diabetes
Spinach is rich in the antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has been proven to help the body make use of its insulin to lower blood sugar levels for patients with Diabetes Mellitus, or Type 2 Diabetes. ALA also reduces peripheral neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage that is a side effect of diabetes. (6)
However, studies about the effects of alpha-lipoic acid to diabetes have been sparse throughout the years. And the small number of these studies have used administered ALA in the form of intravenous doses. It is not yet clear whether oral supplementation (in the form of spinach) of ALA produces the same effect as the IV alpha-lipoic acid. (6)
Spinach prevents and treats cancer
The reason why “leafy greens” have been associated with health and cancer prevention is because of the pigment that causes the green color – chlorophyll. Numerous studies have concluded that chlorophyll is an effective agent at blocking the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines. (1)
Not only is in effective in blocking the carcinogenic effects of free radicals (in the form of heterocyclic amines), it has also been shown that is effective in treating cancer. (7)
A 2015 study has concluded that chlorophyllin might help prevent and slow cancer growth. A study conducted in 2005 has found out that natural chlorophyll reduced the risk of colon cancer in rats. While a 2016 study has found out that chlorophyllin helps slow the progression of lung cancer in mice. (7)
Spinach is good for the skin and hair
Spinach has large quantities of Vitamin A, an essential vitamin that moderates the production of sebum, a type of lipid that is important in keeping the skin pores and hair follicles moisturized. It is important to regulate the production of sebum, as when caught with the dirt in the air, sebum causes acne. (1)
Moreover, Vitamin A is also important in the growth and repair of tissues in different parts of the body. These tissues include the skin and the air, as well collagen, that is essential in providing structure to the skin and the hair. (8)
Moreover, a side effect of iron deficiency is hair loss. In order to avoid early hair loss, eating foods high in iron is recommended. Good news for you, because spinach contains high amounts of iron. (1)
Spinach promotes healthy digestion and bone health
The main components that you should find in food if you are having troubles with your digestive system are high amounts of water and fiber. Both of which, are largely present in spinach. That’s why it is perfect for preventing constipation and effective in digesting proteins. (1)
As mentioned earlier, spinach is high in potassium, calcium magnesium and Vitamin K – all of which are important in bone production and keeping the bones healthy and at a normal density. Vitamin K also prevents bone problems, and lessens the amount of calcium that leaves the body in the urine. (1)
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