Remember Popeye? The skinny cartoon sailor who gulped down a can of spinach and developed muscle within minutes to fight Bluto and other bad guys to either save or impress his girlfriend Olive Oyl. OK, so maybe spinach isn’t going to have your biceps grow double their size within seconds and give you superhuman strength. But spinach benefits are varied and wonderful enough to justify the premise of this children’s show. The benefits of spinach are innumerable and more impressive than even Popeye’s feats.
Spinach Benefits: Nutritional Content of Spinach
We all know about super-foods today. Everything from nuts and spices to vegetables and grains are battling to procure the label. But spinach has always been a super-food and continues to be so today even though it is not given enough credit. Calorie for calorie, spinach has more nutrients than any other food. In fact, some of the vital nutrients found in spinach are difficult to find in other foods. What’s more, it is very low in calories (a mere 23 calories per 100 gm) so you can eat as much as you want to gain spinach benefits without ever worrying that you will gain weight. Following are just some of the essential minerals and vitamins that this green leafy vegetable possesses in rich quantities:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Folic acid
- Lipoic acid
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant)
Now that’s a pretty awe-inspiring resume, isn’t it? So with all this nutrition packed into the little leaves, the amazing array of spinach benefits we’re about to reveal should hardly surprise you.
Incredible Spinach Benefits
The high fiber content in spinach makes this a boon for those with digestion problems. Many people who eat spinach report that even chronic constipation eases within 24 hours. What’s more, spinach benefits extend to protecting the mucous membranes of the stomach lining. This means that if you include spinach in your diet, you will be less likely to develop stomach ulcers, and will find relief if you do have them. Spinach benefits people with who have dyspepsia. It also flushes out the colon and can bring relief to folks who suffer from an irritable colon.
Strengthens Your Bones and Muscles
OK, so maybe it will not let you lift trucks like Popeye, but one of the spinach benefits is indeed its ability to make you stronger from the inside out. The vitamin K in spinach allows your bones to retain its stores of calcium, thus leading to bone mineralisation which is responsible for stronger bones. Plus, spinach has plenty of calcium to add to your bones. This is especially important for growing children and menopausal women. Other minerals in spinach such as copper, zinc and phosphorous also help to make your bones stronger. If you are at high risk for osteoporosis, eating spinach will dramatically reduce your chances of developing the condition.
Improves The Immune System
The unusually high nutrient content in this green leafy vegetable makes it obvious that spinach benefits your entire immune system. Spinach protects all the entry points into the body and offers nutrition to the white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infection. If you eat a lot of spinach, your wounds will heal faster. Drinking spinach juice mixed with carrot juice can help to stop bleeding gums.
Good For Your Eyes
We’ve always been told that carrots are good for the eyes. But spinach is actually far better. Spinach is bursting with beta carotene, xanthene and lutein (all pigments), which are all really good for your eyes. Beta carotene is only released by cooking the spinach lightly. So a raw spinach smoothie is out if you want the spinach benefits for your eyes. Spinach will also help prevent or gain relief from ulcers in the eyes, and even itchy or dry eyes.
But these are simple spinach benefits for the eyes as compared to the health benefits of spinach on AMD or age-related macula degeneration, which leads to blindness. This condition develops with age as the xanthene and lutein in the retina break down. But research has shown that one of the spinach benefits is that it can help the retina to regain these two pigments and prevent AMD from occurring.
Spinach benefits also include prevention of cataracts. How do they do this? Well, once again it’s those amazing nutrients in spinach that we talked about earlier. Spinach contains zeaxanthin and lutein which can protect the eyes from the harsh UV rays of the sun as both these pigments are powerful antioxidants. Since UV rays lead to cataracts, eating spinach can effectively help to keep this health problem at bay.
Protects The Skin Too
The same components in spinach that protect your eyes from UV rays are also responsible for protecting your skin. Research shows that spinach may also repair damaged skin, even going so far as to repair minor genetic skin abnormalities which could lead to skin cancer. So these spinach benefits can actually keep you looking younger and reduce your risk of cancer.
Great for Your Heat
The spinach benefits that regulate blood pressure directly benefit the heart as well since blood pressure problems are a risk factor for cardiovascular issues. We have already seen that spinach strengthens the muscles. The heart too is a muscle so spinach benefits those with heart problems. There is a component in spinach called C0-Q10 that is especially good for the health of your heart. This component does not just treat but also prevents several heart and blood pressure problems such as coronary heart disease, hypertension and heart failure. Even hyperlipidemia or high blood cholesterol can be lowered by C0-Q10. The folate in spinach also helps to reduce cholesterol thus lowering your risk for heart disease as well as high blood pressure.
Prevents Atherosclerosis or Arteriosclerosis
As we have already seen, one of the greatest spinach benefits is that it contains a host of nutrients. The more nutrition a food has, the more likely that food will help keep you in good health. The lutein, inositol and choline (pigments again) in spinach prevent the hardening and thickening of the arteries, a dangerous condition known as atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis which can lead to heart problems, aneurysms, stroke and tissue death.
Regulates Blood Pressure
The spinach benefits of potassium and folate make it a boon for those with high blood pressure. Potassium is known to lower blood pressure, but it is the folate in particular which contributes greatly to the spinach benefits for high blood pressure. Folate reduces blood pressure by helping the blood vessels to relax. It also ensures proper blood flow. Other spinach benefits for the blood include its ability to help in the treatment of anemia.
It is no secret that our memories and brain function decline with age. With some people, it can be simple absent-mindedness, forgetfulness, and confusion. For others it can scale to full-blown degeneration of the brain in the form of Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. One of the spinach benefits is that it can slow down the inevitable decline and perhaps even prevent the more serious brain degeneration from ever occurring. So if you want to be spry and have your wits about you when you are older, down those greens now. Eating spinach regularly can also promote a healthier nervous system, thus further contributing to keeping your brain young and agile.
Helps Fight Cancer
Spinach has very high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are simply the pigments in plants. But they act as very powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants helps to fight free radicals and can thus help to fight cancer. Other constituents in spinach such as chlorophyllin and tocopherol also benefit patients suffering from cancer and can help them to recover better. The flavonoids in particular are known to slow down cell division of cancer cells, thus preventing the cancer from spreading too fast and destroying other areas of the body. The cancers that have responded to spinach benefits so far include prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, and lung cancer.
Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
One of the spinach benefits that arthritic patients can be grateful for is its natural ability to reduce inflammation due to the presence of violaxanthin and neoxanthin in spinach. Even swelling that occurs without arthritis, like from an injury, can be reduced by eating spinach. Other health conditions that are considered to be caused by inflammation such as asthma and migraine headaches can also be controlled with spinach benefits.
Spinach Benefits Pregnant Women
If you are pregnant, then spinach should be one of the foods you eat much of and often. For one thing, it’s full of nutrition which every mother-to-be needs. Also, spinach is really low in calories so you can eat to your heart’s content and not worry about extra weight to burn after the baby is born. But apart from that, you should eat this super-food for the following spinach benefits.
- Constipation is very normal during pregnancy. And for the sake of the baby, it is better not to resort to laxatives to ease the problem. So the only option left is to eat fibrous foods. One of the spinach benefits is that it is high in fiber and taken everyday will lead to regular bowel movements.
- Mild anemia during pregnancy is also quite common but can be overcome by simple changes to the diet. Add spinach to daily meals to gain the benefits of its high iron content.
- The folate in spinach is a vital nutrient for the proper development of your baby’s nervous system and its lungs. Research has shown that folate deficiency can actually cause complications in your baby such as spina bifida and cleft palate. The extra vitamin A in spinach is also highly beneficial during pregnancy as well as for a breast-feeding mother.
- One of the first foods you feed your baby should be pureed spinach. The spinach benefits and abundance of nutrition will ensure that your baby grows as it should.
Best Way to Get Spinach Benefits
You can eat spinach raw in your salads or cook it with other foods to get some of these awesome spinach benefits. But research has shown that juicing spinach is the most efficient way to ensure that you are getting all the spinach benefits that this humble leaf has to offer. Here’s why.
Cooking spinach can destroy many of its vital nutrients and thus you will only get perhaps half the spinach benefits. So it is recommended that you slightly steam spinach or, better yet, eat it completely raw. But there is a problem with this as well. The body is not able to break down raw spinach entirely to release some of the active ingredients in it so you may not get all spinach benefits in this manner either. But juicing takes care of that problem thus allowing you to take advantage of all the health benefits that spinach has to offer. So while you should ensure that you get a lot of spinach in your diet to get spinach benefits, it is important that you take it in a form that will give you maximum health benefits. Try a green smoothie or blend the spinach juice with fruits and other veggies to take the edge of the bitter taste.
Spinach benefits are most apparent when the vegetable is fresh. Keeping it over time – or worse, freezing it – will diminish its nutritional potency to quite an extent. So buy your spinach fresh and organic if possible on the very day you are going to eat it. Buying organic is also quite important since spinach is one of those foods on which a lot of pesticides are used, which do not come off with normal washing.