Spinach is one of the most popular green, leafy vegetables in the world as it is a rich source of minerals, vitamins, pigments, and phytonutrients.
It is a member of the Amaranthaceae family. Due to the vast range of benefits from this vegetable, it is advisable to consume spinach on a regular basis.
One of the biggest reasons why these green leaves are so vital and valued around the world is that they are very durable. It can even stay alive through the winter and be just as healthy in the spring.
You can eat spinach raw as a part of many salads, you can also cook it or saute it. You can take it as a side dish vegetable or add it to a number of recipes for soups, stews, and casseroles.
Spinach is a storehouse of nutrients in a low-calorie package. It is a superfood and it is essential for the skin, hair, and bone health.
Spinach is an annual plant growing as tall as 30 cm. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular, and very variable in size.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that a 100-gram serving of spinach contains 28.1 micrograms of vitamin C, 34 percent of the daily recommendation.
The Nutritional Quality of Spinach
Spinach offers various health benefits due to the presence of minerals, vitamins, pigments, and phytonutrients, including potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
In line with the National Nutrient Database, the green leafy vegetable is a source of vitamins like folate, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, and contains traces of the rest of the essential vitamins.
Also, important elements, including thiamine and riboflavin are also found in this green, leafy vegetable. The best part is that spinach has low-fat content.
Research has shown that one cup of raw spinach contains:
- 7 calories
- 86 grams (g) of protein
- 30 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 81 g of iron
- 24 mg of magnesium
- 167 mg of potassium
- 2,813 international units (IU) of Vitamin A
- 58 micrograms of folate
HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPINACH
Spinach has a lot of essences and plays vital roles in preserving and sustaining a healthy body; the various health benefits include the following:
1. Improves Eyesight
According to a research published by Helen M Rasmussen, in her report in 2013, the Clinical Interventions in Aging has shown that spinach is a rich source of beta-carotene, lutein, and xanthene, all of which are beneficial for eyesight.
Beta-carotene, in cooked spinach, aids in boosting eye health. It can also prevent vitamin A deficiencies, eye ulcers, itching eyes, and dry eyes. The anti-inflammatory properties of these greens can also reduce the puffiness or irritation in the eyes.
2. Helps with Fetal Development
Folate found in spinach is needed by a growing fetus for proper development of its new nervous system. Defects like cleft palate or spina bifida may occur due to a deficiency of folate.
The vitamin A contained in spinach is advised to be consumed in higher quantities by the mother.
Vitamin A is required for lung development of the fetus as well and can be transferred during breastfeeding, so spinach consumption should be continued after birth as well.
3. Proteins for Infant Growth
Infants are advised to be fed spinach, which will give them protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
These nutrients result in proportionate development in their essential growing stages. ‘Popeye, the Sailor Man’ is known for his obsession with spinach. The cartoon was deliberately aimed to convince children to eat spinach and get strong.
4. Offers Neurological Benefits
A research at the Department of Neurosurgery and Physiological Science, University of California, suggests that spinach with a high anti-oxidant capability boost mitochondrial activity, in charge of influencing the cognitive function.
Several components of this vegetable like potassium, folate, and various antioxidants are known to provide neurological benefits to people who often consume it.
Folate decreases the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, spinach is a very good idea for people who are at high risk of neural or cognitive decline.
Potassium is an integral part of brain health as well, and it has been linked to increased blood flow to the brain and heightened cognition, concentration, and neural activity.
5. Strengthens Muscles
Factor C0-Q10, which is an antioxidant present in spinach, plays a significant role in strengthening muscles, especially heart muscles which constantly pump blood to all parts of the body.
C0-Q10 can be used to prevent and treat many cardiovascular diseases like hyperlipidemia, heart failure, hypertension, and coronary heart disease.
6. Decreases Risk of Cataracts
The presence of lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach both act as strong antioxidants, thus preventing the eyes from the harsh effects of UV rays that can lead to cataracts.
They also reduce the impact of free radicals, which can be a major cause of cataracts and other eye conditions.
SEE ALSO: 12 Health Benefits of Cucumbers
7. Helps in Bone Mineralization
Spinach is a good source of Vitamin K, which functions in retaining calcium in the bone matrix, thereby leading to bone mineralization.
Aside from this, other minerals like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus zinc and copper also aid in building up strong bones.
This, in turn, can prevent an individual from developing osteoporosis. These minerals are also crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and nails.
8. Treats Hemophilia
Vitamin K-rich spinach helps in blood clotting by generating prothrombin and it thus treats hemophilia. It is great for regulating excessive bleeding and it also keeps the liver functioning by stimulating the production of glycogen.
9. Healthy skin and hair
Spinach has a large amount of vitamin A, which controls the production of oil in the skin pores and hair follicles to moisturize the skin and hair.
It is this oil that can form up to cause acne. Vitamin A is also essential for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
Spinach and other leafy greens high in vitamin C are crucial for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.
Insufficient Iron in the body is a common cause of hair loss, which may be prevented by an adequate intake of iron-rich foods, such as spinach.
10. Maintains Blood Pressure
There is a very high content of potassium and a low content of sodium in spinach. This composition of minerals is very beneficial for high blood pressure patients as potassium lowers and sodium raises the blood pressure.
The presence of Folate in spinach also contributes to the decrease of hypertension and relaxes blood vessels, while maintaining good blood flow.
By reducing blood pressure and relaxing the tension of vessels and arteries, you can reduce stress on the cardiovascular system and increase oxygenation to the body’s organ systems for optimal functionality.
11. It Enhances Metabolism
Doctors recommend spinach in your diet because of the amount of protein found in spinach which is impressive for any vegetable. Also, they are easily broken down by enzymes into amino acids that are crucial to humans.
The body re-forms them into mammal proteins that help in muscle development and growth. They also increase our body’s ability to heal wounds and offer a boost to our total metabolism, encouraging all of our organs to function at their optimal level.
A recent study also proposes that Thylakoid found in spinach can curb cravings and hunger which can further help in weight loss.
12. Treats & Prevents Cancer
Spinach contains various important elements that help treat and prevent numerous kinds of cancer. These include prostate, liver, bladder and lung cancers.
Different components in spinach like folate, chlorophyllin and tocopherol act via different mechanisms to treat and safeguard patients suffering from cancer.
Contemporary studies show that spinach is very effective against aggressive prostate cancer. This is associated with epoxyxanthophylls, these are unique carotenoids, along with neoxanthin and violaxanthin that directly diminish tumorous activity and the spread of cancer throughout the body.