I Spy with My Little Eye...Spinach!
“I’m strong to the fin-ich, ’cause I eats me spinach. I’m Popeye the sailor man!”
We should really take Popeye’s word for it. Unfortunately, little kids just run away screaming when their mothers try to persuade them to eat their vegetables. And one of the top most feared vegetables around is spinach. But contrary to popular belief, this dark green vegetable is actually very healthy. And when done right, it can taste absolutely delicious. In fact, it is tagged as the world’s healthiest foods.
Spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable from ancient Persia. It used to go by the name of “the Spanish vegetable.” Eventually, it was somewhat shortened to what it’s know today. It has healthy cousins like beets and quinoa.
It’s a very versatile vegetable. It can be easily used in salads, smoothies, side dishes, or even a meal on its own.
Spinach Nutritional Value
Just one cup of spinach contains a ton of benefits for the body. For starters, its dark green color shows it has a high amount of chlorophyll. This is very good for the body. It also has a low amount of calories and carbohydrates. Also, it possesses vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K. It has dietary fiber, folate, choline, riboflavin, and protein. And for its mineral content, it has manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. To top it all off, it also contains amino acids like glutamic acid, aspartic acid, leucine, and lysine.
Benefits of Spinach
Of course, because of the many vitamins and minerals found in spinach, it’s expected that it has plenty of benefits for you and your body. Read on to know why this is Popeye’s go-to food to defeat his enemies.
This vegetable contains helpful phytonutrients and and pigments that protect the skin from UV rays. They also repair damaged genes to some extent, thereby preventing the risk of skin cancer. Its vitamin C content also helps in making sure your skin is smooth, supple, and healthy. Furthermore, the antioxidants found in spinach foster new skin cell growth. They also help in the production of collagen. This is responsible for the skin’s elasticity and youthful appearance.
Promotes Good Eye Health
The phytochemicals present in this vegetable promote healthy eyesight and also prevent cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. This condition causes blindness.
Also, spinach is a good source of lutein, xanthene, and beta-carotene. These three compounds are great for eye health. They prevent vitamin A deficiency, itching eyes, dry eyes, and eye ulcers. Also, the anti-inflammatory properties of spinach reduces puffiness or irritation in the eye.
In other words, the more spinach you eat on a daily basis, the healthier your eyes get, even as you grow older.
The high vitamin A and C content helps in maintaining a strong and healthy immune system. These vitamins make sure the antioxidants stay strong and properly defend your body against bacteria, toxins, viruses, and other types of debilitating invaders that bring about disease and infections.
How exactly does spinach’s components protect immunity? Easy! By lowering inflammatory responses and reducing cell damage. They also protect the body from serious body conditions, including damage from free radicals.
Defends against Heart Disease
Nitrates promote heart health by moderating blood pressure levels and decreasing the risk of heart disease. Lutein reduces the chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Its antioxidants also fight against other types of cardiovascular diseases like heart failure, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and hyperlipidemia.
Improves Digestive Health
They also protect the lining of the digestive tract and stomach. This reduces the likelihood of leaky gut syndrome and other digestive disorders. It’s also a great source of dietary fiber. Fiber is very important in maintaining digestive health. It helps with regular bowel movements and carries waste and toxins out of the body. It also prevents bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Fights against Diabetes
Studies show that steroids called phytoecdysteroids increase glucose metabolism and keeps blood sugar levels stable. This is very beneficial for people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, and other forms of metabolic syndrome. Antioxidants also play a part in the prevention of diabetes.
Also, since spinach is low in calories but high in nutrients, it’s perfect to eat for people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association mentions spinach as the superfood for diabetics.
Maintains Bone Health
Spinach is very rich in vitamin K, which is very important in maintaining bone health. This vitamin retains calcium in the bone matrix, which leads to bone mineralization. Vitamin K also ensures a healthy and strong skeletal structure. The other minerals in spinach also contribute in healthy bones, which lessens the risk of osteoporosis, loss in bone mineral density, and bone fractures.
Promotes Brain Health
Many vegetables, including spinach, can slow down the aging process. Spinach protects the brain from age-related diseases. It also reverses existing damage in the cerebral cortex of the brain after a stroke. The antioxidants are responsible in reducing inflammation and lessening oxidative stress that lead to weak cognition, motor, and behavioral skills.
Also, the other nutrients in the vegetable contribute to other areas of brain health as well. For example, folate reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Potassium increases blood flow to the brain. This leads to heightened cognition, concentration, and neural activity.
Helps in Fetal Development
Pregnant women are encouraged to have a well-balanced diet while they are carrying. Spinach is a great help. It is an excellent source of folate, which is vital in cellular function and tissue growth. Folate also makes sure a growing fetus’s nervous system is properly developed. A deficiency of folate may lead to defects like a cleft palate or spina bifida.
Vitamin A is important too as it assists in the lung development of the fetus.
Fights against Cancer
These phytochemicals present in the vegetable also have anti-cancerous properties. They treat and protect patients who are suffering from this disease. Some examples of the cancers they fight against are colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer, and prostate cancer.
Spinach also contains carotenoids that reduce tumorous activities. What they do is they protect cells from mutations that lead to cancerous tumor growth. They also stop the spread of cancer throughout the body.
And finally, the chloroplast and chlorophyll content act as a cancer protector by pulling out carcinogenic substances from the body.
Some of the healthiest foods to add to your table are found here.