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Spinach: health benefits and nutritional value

Spinach is a superfood; spinach is very healthy. Spinach is packed with nutrients and low in calories. It is a green leafy vegetable, which is an important part of a healthy diet. Spinach has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. It is also rich in protein and vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. There are tons of different ways to turn spinach into a tasty dish that your family and friends can enjoy. It can be included in any diet quite easily as it is affordable and easy to prepare. Spinach has many health benefits.

  • What is spinach?
  • Nutritional value of spinach
  • Health benefits of spinach
  • Spinach improves eyesight
  • Spinach counteracts macular degeneration
  • Spinach offers neurological benefits
  • Spinach helps with hemophilia
  • Spinach maintains blood pressure
  • Spinach strengthens the muscles
  • Spinach helps with bone mineralization
  • Spinach reduces the risk of cataracts
  • Spinach increases metabolism
  • Spinach helps prevent stomach ulcers
  • Spinach helps prevent atherosclerosis
  • Spinach helps with fetal development
  • Spinach reduces inflammation
  • Spinach helps prevent cancer
  • Spinach protects the skin
  • Risks

 Cooked spinach / Source: Laurent Nguyen, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

What is spinach?

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is one of the most popular green leafy vegetables in the world because it is a rich source of minerals, vitamins, pigments and phytonutrients. It is a member of the amaranth family (Amaranthaceae). Due to the large number of benefits of this vegetable, it is advisable to consume spinach regularly. Spinach can be eaten raw as part of a salad, for example, and it can also be boiled or stir-fried. It can be eaten as a main dish or side dish or added to a number of recipes for soups, casseroles and stews. Spinach originates from the Middle East and was grown thousands of years ago in Persia (modern Iran). From there it was brought to China about 1,500 years ago. The vegetable made its way to Europe a few hundred years later and quickly became a staple in a number of cuisines.

Nutritional value of spinach

Spinach contains a lot of vitamins K, A and C, as well as folic acid, manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium. It is also a good source of vitamin B3, zinc, protein, fiber, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, phosphorus and copper. Spinach is also full of good nutrients to prevent cholesterol from oxidizing and protect your body from free radicals, especially in the colon. The folic acid in spinach is also good for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, while the magnesium content helps lower high blood pressure. Spinach also helps maintain brain function, memory and mental clarity. To preserve spinach’s rich iron content while cooking, add a little lemon juice or vinegar to your dish.Spinach in the greenhouse / Source: Unknown, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Health benefits of spinach

Spinach has many different health benefits.

Spinach improves eyesight

Spinach is a rich source of beta-carotene, lutein and xanthene, all of which are good for vision. Beta carotene helps improve eye health. It can also prevent vitamin A deficiency, itchy eyes, eye ulcers and dry eyes. The anti-inflammatory properties of this vegetable can also reduce bags or dark circles under the eyes.

Spinach counteracts macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is responsible for causing blindness, which is due to the degeneration of lutein and xanthene that form a central part of the retina. Patients with age-related macular degeneration benefit from fresh green leafy vegetables, especially spinach, as it contains carotenoids. It also contains a wealth of antioxidants that reduce the damaging effects of free radicals, which are known to negatively impact vision and also cause age-related conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Spinach offers neurological benefits

Spinach has a high antioxidant capacity and this is associated with mitochondrial activity, which affects cognitive function. Various components of this vegetable such as potassium, folic acid and various antioxidants are known to provide neurological benefits to people who consume it regularly. Folic acid reduces the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, so spinach is very good for people at high risk of neural or cognitive decline. Potassium is also integral to brain health and has been linked to increased blood flow to the brain and increased cognition, concentration and neural activity.Spinach as a salad / Source: Kaboompics, Pixabay

Spinach helps with hemophilia

Spinach is rich in vitamin K which helps in blood clotting by producing prothrombin and thus treats hemophilia. It works well in controlling excessive bleeding and it also maintains liver function by stimulating glycogen production.

Spinach maintains blood pressure

Spinach has a very high potassium content and a low sodium content. This composition of minerals is very beneficial for people with high blood pressure as potassium lowers blood pressure and sodium increases blood pressure. Folate in spinach also contributes to the reduction of hypertension and relaxes blood vessels, while maintaining proper blood flow. By lowering blood pressure and reducing the tension of blood vessels and arteries, you can reduce pressure on the cardiovascular system and promote oxygen supply to the body’s organ systems for optimal functionality.Spinach strengthens the muscles / Source: Nillerdk, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-3.0)

Spinach strengthens the muscles

The coenzyme Q₁₀ , short: Q10, also known as CoQ₁₀ or ubiquinone-10, is an antioxidant present in spinach. It plays an important role in strengthening the muscles, especially the heart muscle that continuously pumps blood to all parts of the body. Q10 can be used to prevent and treat many cardiovascular conditions such as hyperlipidemia, heart failure, hypertension and coronary artery disease.

Spinach helps with bone mineralization

Spinach is a good source of vitamin K, which plays a role in retaining calcium in the bone matrix, leading to bone mineralization. In addition, other minerals such as manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus also help build strong bones. This, in turn, can prevent you from developing osteoporosis or bone loss. These minerals are also essential for maintaining healthy teeth and nails.Spinach reduces the risk of cataracts / Source: Rakesh Ahuja, MD, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Spinach reduces the risk of cataracts

The lutein and zeaxanthin present in spinach both act as strong antioxidants and protect the eyes from the 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 diseases.

Spinach increases metabolism

The amount of protein in spinach is impressive and they are easily broken down by enzymes into amino acids that are essential for humans. The reformed proteins aid in muscle development and growth. They also increase your body’s ability to heal wounds and boost your metabolism, stimulating all your organs to function at their optimal levels. Thylakoid in spinach can curb hunger, which can aid in weight loss.

Spinach helps prevent stomach ulcers

Spinach and some other vegetables have the ability to protect the stomach lining, preventing the occurrence of stomach ulcers. Additionally, the glycoglycerolipids present in spinach can increase the strength of the lining of the digestive tract, preventing unwanted inflammation in that part of the body.

Spinach helps prevent atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis is caused by hardening of the arteries. A pigment called lutein, found in spinach, has been shown to reduce the occurrence of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. This is due to the fact that spinach proteins reduce cholesterol and other fatty deposits in the blood vessels.Spinach is good for the unborn child / Source: Zerocool, Pixabay

Spinach helps with fetal development

Folic acid in spinach is necessary for the proper development of the nervous system of the unborn child. Defects such as cleft palate or spina bifida can occur due to a deficiency of folic acid. The vitamin A is necessary for lung development of the fetus and can be transferred during breastfeeding, so spinach consumption should continue even after birth.

Spinach reduces inflammation

There are many anti-inflammatory substances in spinach; certainly more than a dozen. Spinach is one of the most powerful vegetables when it comes to reducing inflammation throughout the body. This means not only protecting the heart, but also reducing the inflammation and pain associated with conditions such as arthritis and gout, which affect millions of people around the world.

Spinach helps prevent cancer

Spinach consists of several key components that have been found to show promise in preventing several types of cancer. These include bladder cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer. Various components in spinach such as folic acid, tocopherol and chlorophyllin work through different mechanisms to treat and protect patients with cancer. Spinach is also very effective against aggressive prostate cancer, and this has been linked to epoxyxanthophylls, which are unique carotenoids, along with neoxanthin and violaxanthin that directly reduce tumor activity and the spread of cancer throughout the body.

Spinach protects the skin

Several phytonutrients and pigments have been shown to protect the skin from harmful sun rays, including UV rays. These protect and repair the damaged ones to some extent, preventing skin cancer in the long term.Spinach leaves / Source: Lecic/Shutterstock.com

Risks

Many people take anticoagulants, also called blood thinners. In that case, it is important that you do not suddenly start changing the amount of food you eat that contains vitamin K. Fat-soluble vitamin K is an essential nutrient for blood clotting.Ingesting too much potassium can harm kidney patients. If the kidneys cannot remove excess potassium from the blood, this can have consequences for your health. It is important that people with kidney problems take note of this.Spinach is best consumed as part of a varied and healthy diet, preferably a plant-based diet.

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