8 Astonishing Health Benefits of Spinach

8 Astonishing Health Benefits of Spinach

Spinach (scientific name: Spinacia oleracea) is one of the most amazing and nutritious green vegetables you can ever have. Spinach is recognized for its wholesome nutritional, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, making it essential for your overall health and wellbeing. Spinach has a characteristic tender, crispy and dark-green leaf, which explains why chefs around the world utilize it as an ingredient (or side food) in their dishes.

Nutritional profile of spinach

An individual can benefit from the immense benefits of spinach in their daily routine in the form of cooked vegetable, soup, juice, stews or sauces. Below is an outline of the top 4 nutrients found in raw spinach regarding the daily value percentage that it offers for a 2,000-calorie diet or 1 cup serving:

  • Vitamin K: Spinach contains 444.2 micrograms (181% daily value) of vitamin K for each cup serving.
  • Vitamin A: Spinach contains 2, 8131U (56% Daily Value) of vitamin A for each cup serving
  • Folate: Spinach contains 58.2 micrograms (15% daily value) of folate for each cup serving
  • Vitamin C: Spinach contains 84 milligrams (14% daily value) of vitamin C for each cup serving

Spinach also contains

  • Proteins (0.8grams)
  • Calcium (30 milligrams)
  • Iron (0.81 grams)
  • Magnesium (24 milligrams)
  • Potassium (167 milligrams)

Spinach also contains fair amounts of fiber phosphorus and thiamine.

Health Benefits of Spinach

  1. Helps keep cancer at bay

Spinach is a potent superfood in the prevention of cancer. Scientifically, disease cannot thrive in an alkaline condition. Spinach provides the alkaline condition in the body due to its rich supply of antioxidants (glutathione and alpha lipoic acid), vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytonutrients.  The folate compound in spinach also aids the body to generate new cells in the course of repairing DNA. On top of these critical antioxidants, spinach provides the body with carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene) that fortify the body’s anticancer defense systems. These carotenoids work by expunging free radicals from the body, alleviating the possibility of body damage. [1]

  1. Essential for strong bones

Insufficient amount of vitamin K in the body is cited as a significant cause of bone fracture (Osteoporosis). Enough intake of vitamin K is essential for bone health and prevention of Osteoporosis, as it boosts calcium absorption, modifies bone protein matrix, minimizes calcium excretion through urine and rids the body of excess quantities of osteoclasts (cells capable of destroying cells).

Spinach also boosts the generation of osteocalcin, a hormone produced by osteoblasts (cells that make bones), which has essential nutrients such as calcium and magnesium (also vital for bone health). [2] [3] [4]

  1. Great for management of diabetes

The American Diabetes Association classifies spinach as a diabetes superfood and recommends its daily consumption. Spinach has a low glycemic index, meaning daily consumption will assist to maintain healthy and stable blood glucose levels. Spinach’s low-calorie content (7 calories per 1 cup serving) is beneficial to people living with diabetes. Why? Because one of the goals of managing diabetes is to lower overall body weight and calories contribute mightily to weight gain. If you’re overweight already, shedding off 5% to 10% can help you to boost blood glucose levels, including cholesterol and blood pressure. Spinach is also low in carbohydrates (contains only 0.83 grams per cup). Foods loaded with carbohydrates trigger blood sugar levels to rise. Since spinach contains low amounts of carbohydrates, it’s a good food choice for the management of diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, a healthy diabetic meal should consist of fewer carbohydrates (approximately 45 grams to 65 grams). [5] [6]

  1. Essential for healthy hair

Spinach contains vitamin K, A, C, B2, B6, B1, E, zinc, manganese, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. A combination of these nutrients is effective in nourishing your scalp and hair, resulting in healthy hair growth. Vitamin B and C, particularly, increases the rate of hair growth by boosting up the levels of keratin and collagen. The iron supplied by spinach speeds up the supply of oxygen to the hair follicles, allowing them to maintain optimal health. Lack of iron is cited as one of the main causes of hair loss; therefore, including spinach in your daily diet routine can help reverse that trend. [7] [8]

 

  1. Essential for healthy skin

Spinach has remarkable anti-aging benefits. Naturally, the human skin loses its elasticity and thins out as one grows older. Free radicals in the body produced as a result of food or environmental toxins like pollution, devastate body cells and speed up the skin’s aging process. The antioxidant property of spinach brought about by vitamin A, keeps the skin healthy and repairs wounds.

Vitamin C, another antioxidant present in spinach, is responsible for the production of collagen, a protein that is responsible for the skin’s strength and elasticity. Insufficient supply of vitamin C in the body normally results in dry and scaly skin. Therefore, daily intake is key to achieving healthy skin.

Spinach is also responsible for a rosy glow. Spinach is rich in iron, a critical component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. This means that without sufficient iron, oxygen transportation can be inhibited, leaving you with a pale-looking skin. The most effective way to absorb iron from spinach is to consume it along with a fruit juice like orange. Vitamin C content in orange juice optimizes iron absorption from spinach into the body. [9]

  1. Prevents constipation

Constipation is a serious condition characterized by inability to go to the toilet each day or dry, dark and pungent stool. Constipation also causes sluggish bowel movement, which can lead to insomnia, bloating, weight gain, lack of energy, hemorrhoids, and headaches. Spinach is a rich source of fiber and water, and daily intake can help mitigate constipation. Daily consumption of spinach can also boost a healthy digestive tract. Magnesium, a compound found in spinach is known to promote gut health and is also required for proper bowel movement. [10]

  1. Great for your eyesight

Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale contain high levels of chlorophyll, as well as health-promoting carotenoids such as carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These phytochemicals generate powerful anti-inflammatory substances, which scientists have found to be helpful in protecting the eye against age-related muscular degeneration (AMD). AMD is touted as the main cause of irreversible blindness in the western world. Daily intake of spinach is key to reversing age-related muscular degeneration. [11] [12]

  1. Prevention of anemia

Anemia is a serious condition caused by lack of iron. Those who suffer from anemia are advised to take iron supplements or change their diets to increase iron levels. Doctors will always advise anemia patients to include dark-green-leafy vegetables in their diets. Spinach is a good choice of dark-green leafy vegetable as it’s rich in iron. Daily intake of spinach can reverse anemia or prevent the possibility of its occurrence.  [13]

History of Spinach

Spinach is thought to have been bred from a wild edible green called Spinacia tetrandra, predominantly occurring in Nepal. Later, in 647 AD, spinach reached the shores of China from Nepal where it was known as the ‘’Persian Green.’’ In the 11th century, spinach was introduced to Spanish kitchens by the Moors of North Africa. By the middle ages, spinach had spread across the entire Europe. The English people named it Spanish vegetable.

In France, spinach was introduced by an Italian royalty of the 1500’s called Catherine De Medici, who preferred spinach over other green vegetables. Catherine De Medici left Florence (her original home in Italy) to get married into the French royal family. On her voyage, she came along with her cooks to prepare her favorite spinach dishes. [14]

The 20th century heralded the age of breeding spinach. Breeders began to pick out and hybridize different varieties of spinach with slow-bolting and disease resistant varieties. This is how the different kinds of spinach were distributed throughout the world. Today, spinach is consumed in virtually every country in the world. [15]

References

  1. http://superfoodsrx.com/healthyliving/spinach-and-cancer-health-benefits/.
  2. http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/80579
  3. https://www.iofbonehealth.org/news/vitamin-k-may-be-good-for-your-bone-health
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121211130210.htm
  5. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/9/2375
  6. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819214607.htm
  7. http://superfoodsrx.com/healthyliving/spinach-and-cancer-health-benefits/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828511/
  9. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/01/17/the-best-foods-for-beautiful-skin.aspx
  10. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation/eating-diet-nutrition
  11. https://www.livescience.com/1021-scientists-eye-benefits-spinach.html
  12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/humanbody/truthaboutfood/young/spinach.shtml
  13. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anaemia-iron-deficiency-/Pages/Treatment.aspx
  14. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-spinach
  15. http://www.underwoodgardens.com/history-spinach/

 

 

 

 

 

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