Spinach is that green-leafy vegetable the cartoon character Popeye credited his superhuman strength to. Yup, every time he popped open and gobbled up a can of spinach his muscles bulged and he never lost a fight. Although that notion is dubious, spinach’s health benefits make it one of the healthiest foods out there. That’s right. Just about anything that is or might ever cause you problems, you can battle with spinach.
Nutritional Content of Spinach
Spinach is a nutrient dense vegetable rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, copper, protein, phosphorous, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3-fatty acids.
Health Benefits of Spinach
1. Eye Health: Spinach is a healthy source of beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin which are known to be very beneficial to maintaining eye health, reducing the risk of age related macular degeneration and preventing cataracts.
2. Bone Mineralization: A cup of fresh spinach contains nearly twice one’s daily vitamin K needs, which functions in retaining the calcium in the bone matrix. In addition to this, the presence of calcium, manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus helps build up stronger and denser bones. This will in turn help prevent the onset of bone related diseases such as osteoporosis.
3. Strengthens Muscles: The coenzyme Q10 is a component found in spinach and acts as an antioxidant that plays an important role in the strengthening of muscles, especially the heart muscles. This coenzyme is used to treat many cardiovascular diseases such as hyperlipidemia, heart failure, hypertension and coronary heart diseases.
4. Anti-Cancer Properties: Spinach contains more than a dozen different flavonoids, phytonutrients that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. Studies have shown reduced risks of prostate, stomach, bladder, liver and lung cancers as positives from the contents of spinach.
5. Anti-Oxidant Properties: The vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium serve as powerful antioxidants that eliminate free radicals in the body and combat atherosclerosis and high blood pressures.
6. Builds Immunity: In addition to the immunity builder vitamin C, the high vitamin A content in spinach protects and strengthens the entry points of the body such as the mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts.
7. Skin Health: The vitamins A, C, E and K are great for the skin. Spinach can help clear up acne, fight eczema, psoriasis, keratinization, wrinkles and may even prevent cancer from sun exposure.
8. Brain and Nervous Functions: Spinach has components of potassium, folate and various antioxidants that provide great neurological benefits. Folate reduces occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. The vitamin K contributes to a healthy nervous system by being an essential part of the synthesis of sphingolipids, the fat that makes up the Myelin sheath around the nerves.
9. Alkalizes the Body: The various minerals present in spinach helps balance off a highly acidic diet which drains energy, increases obesity and creates a host of other health issues.
10. Maintain Blood Pressure: The high amounts of potassium and low content of sodium make spinach very beneficial for high blood pressure patients as potassium lowers the blood pressure by its function as a vasodilator. The folate content also contributes by relaxing blood vessels and maintaining proper blood flow.
11. Fetus Development: Spinach has folate which is needed by growing fetuses for the proper development of their new nervous system. The vitamin A content aids lung development in fetuses as well as aiding mothers in breast feeding.
12. Anti-Ulcer Property: Spinach has been found to have the ability to protect the mucous membrane of the stomach leading to increased resistance to stomach ulcers.