Popeye had it right when it came to spinach – spinach is a superfood that helps your body perform at its best. A diet rich in vegetables, like spinach, gives your body what it needs to stay healthy. Nutritionists recommend eating four or more servings of vegetables a day. Because spinach is so healthy, it is suggested that you eat spinach at least four times a week.
A leafy green vegetable filled with fiber and other important vitamins and minerals, spinach is low in calories. Whether eaten raw or cooked, one cup of spinach has less than 32 calories.
The dark green spinach leaves are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants which are great for your eyes and heart. The pigments in spinach also contain flavonoids called luteolin, which are phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties.
Spinach is rich in vitamins E, A, and K. Studies suggest vitamin E protects your body against some cancers and heart disease. Your body uses vitamin K to help with blood clotting. Vitamin A is used by the cells in your body to promote cell division. The beta carotene found in spinach is used by your body to create more vitamin A. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that defends body cells.
In addition to vitamins, spinach has a lot of folate, potassium, magnesium, and iron. These minerals help your cardiovascular system. They also build healthy nerves and muscles.
The health benefits of spinach are:
– Prevent Cancer: The antioxidants in spinach have anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent cancer, according to the journal Nutrition and Cancer. The folate also contributes to a lower chance of ovarian cancer.
– Keeping your heart healthy: The antioxidant lutein alleviates inflammation and plaque build-up in veins and arteries. The folate in spinach lowers homocystene levels which are, in turn, associated with heart disease. If your blood pressure is high, stick with fresh or frozen spinach since it has less sodium than canned spinach.
– Building healthy bones: Foods rich in vitamin K, like spinach, help prevent weak bones. Vitamin K triggers the creation of osteocalcin, a protein involved with the formation of bones. The calcium and magnesium in spinach also helps keep bones strong. Keep in mind thought that the calcium in spinach is absorbed less efficiently than the calcium in dairy.
– Better eyesight: Retinal, a form of vitamin A, is an important ingredient in the eye’s retina. Your eyes need vitamin A to function at their best. Lutein, vitamin E and beta carotene also help prevent vision loss in senior citizens.
– Keeping mentally focused: Studies show that diets with a lot of spinach help maximize mental powers as you age. The folate in spinach is also crucial for cognitive function. Folic acid supplements, it should be noted, have little or no effect in this area so you should stick with natural sources like spinach.
– Increase energy: The iron and folate in spinach help prevent anemia. This is often important for women with heavy menstrual periods.
– Combat infections: Vitamin E helps improve the immune system. The vitamin A in spinach makes white blood cells that destroy bacteria and viruses.
Almost every supermarket has fresh spinach year-round. Spinach usually costs less than other greens. It can be substituted for lettuce on salads and sandwiches, making them healthier. Remember that fresh spinach should be dark green and not wilted.
Beware of canned spinach since it is usually high in sodium. Check the labels on frozen spinach to see how much sodium is contained.
Keep unwashed spinach in your fridge until ready for use. Avoid washing the leaves before storage since it will cause them to deteriorate. Before serving, thoroughly rinse the leaves in cold water to get rid of dirt and bugs.
A delicious and healthy way to enjoy spinach is to make a fresh spinach salad with a small amount of olive oil. The olive oil will speed up the body’s absorption of lutein and vitamin A. Spinach can also be added to pasta sauce or even put on pizza. For great mashed potatoes, try adding spinach, parmesan cheese and garlic. You can also add spinach to omelets and quiche.
All in all, spinach is terrifically healthy and makes a great side dish.