Spinach is one of the most popular green leafy vegetables, as it’s a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. It is native to the Middle East, cultivated in Persia thousands of years ago. From there, it was brought to China and made its way into Europe and then North America. Today, spinach has become a staple in a number of cultural cuisines. Do you want to know more about the health benefits of spinach? Read this article to find out.
Health Benefits of Spinach
1. Full of Nutrients
Leafy green vegetables like spinach are loaded with nutrients. One cup of cooked spinach only contains 41 calories. More importantly, it contains very high amounts of Vitamin A (377% DV) and Vitamin K (1,111% DV). It also contains other vitamins and minerals, including:
• Manganese (84% DV)
• Folate (66% DV)
• Magnesium (39% DV)
• Iron (36% DV)
• Potassium (24% DV)
• Calcium (24% DV)
• Copper (16% DV)
• Vitamin C (29% DV)
• Vitamin B2 (25% DV)
• Vitamin B6 (22% DV)
• Vitamin E (19% DV)
Note: DV means Daily Value, which is the amount a healthy adult on a 2,000 calorie diet should consume in a day.
2. Improves Eyesight
Among the health benefits of spinach is being a rich source of beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are all beneficial for eyesight. Beta carotene helps boost eye health. It helps prevent vitamin A deficiency, dry eyes, and eye ulcers. The anti-inflammatory properties of spinach can also reduce puffiness or irritation in the eyes.
Meanwhile, lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful antioxidants that can protect the eyes from the harsh effects of ultraviolet rays. They also reduce the impact of free radicals which can cause cataracts and other eye conditions.
3. Helps Regulate Blood Pressure
Spinach has a very high potassium content, while being low in sodium. This composition of minerals is beneficial for people with high blood pressure. Potassium lowers blood pressure while sodium has an opposite effect. Additionally, the folate present in spinach can help reduce hypertension, relax blood vessels, and maintain proper blood flow. By reducing blood pressure and relaxing blood vessels and arteries, the stress to the cardiovascular system is reduced, while oxygenation to the body’s organ systems is increased.
4. Helps Prevent Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is caused by hardening of the arteries. The lutein found in spinach has the potential to reduce the occurrence of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. Also, spinach tends to reduce cholesterol and other fat deposits in the arteries.
5. Reduces Inflammation
Spinach contains many anti-inflammatory compounds — more than a dozen, in fact. These fall under the category of methylenedioxy flavonoid glucuronides. This leafy green is one of the best vegetables when it comes to reducing inflammation in the body. That means protecting the heart and reducing pain and inflammation associated with conditions like gout and arthritis, which affect millions of people around the world.
6. Provides Neurological Benefits
The high antioxidant capacity of spinach can help with cognitive function. Several nutrients found in spinach like potassium and folate, along with antioxidants, can provide neurological benefits to individuals who regularly consume it. Folate can help reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, so eating spinach might be a good idea for individuals at risk of cognitive decline. Potassium is good for brain health as well. It has been associated with increased blood flow to the brain and improved cognition, concentration, and neural activity.
7. Great for the Skin
Like many green leafy vegetables, spinach is loaded with antioxidants that are important for normal skin cell development and healthy skin tone. Other health benefits of spinach include increasing the production of collagen and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The vitamin A in spinach can also help the skin retain moisture to fight dryness, psoriasis, and acne.
Potential Negative Effects of Spinach
Incorporating spinach into your diet is very healthy. However, this vegetable may cause adverse effects in some people.
Kidney stones are caused by mineral salt and acid buildup. The most common type is calcium stones, which consist of calcium oxalate. Since spinach is high in both calcium and oxalates, people who are at risk of developing kidney stones should limit their consumption of this vegetable.
Spinach is high in vitamin K1, which does several functions in the body but is best known for its role in blood clotting. Because of this, it could interfere with blood-thinning medications. People who are taking blood thinners, such as Warfarin, should consult their doctor before eating large amounts of spinach.
Spinach can be eaten raw as an ingredient in many salads. Just make sure to wash it thoroughly. It can also be cooked or sauteed. This green leafy vegetable can be eaten as a side dish or added in soups, stews, and casseroles. Due to the numerous health benefits of spinach, it is recommended that you incorporate it into your diet.
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