Spinach is a green leafy vegetable native to Persia.
It is related to beets and quinoa. In addition, it is considered very healthy because it is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.
Eating spinach can benefit eye health, help prevent cancer, lower blood pressure, and reduce oxidative stress.
There are many ways to prepare spinach. You can purchase it canned or fresh and eat it cooked or raw.
The nutritional values for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw spinach are:
- Calories: 23
- Water: 91%
- Protein: 2.9 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3.6 grams
- Sugar: 0.4 grams
- Fiber: 2.2 grams
- Fat: 0.4 gram
Most of the carbohydrates in spinach are made up of fiber, which is really healthy.
Spinach also contains small amounts of sugar, mainly in the form of glucose and fructose.
Spinach is high in insoluble fiber, which can improve your health in several ways.
It adds most to stool as food passes through your digestive system. It can help prevent constipation.
Vitamins and minerals
Spinach is an excellent source of many minerals and vitamins, including:
- Vitamin A. Spinach is rich in carotenoids, which your body can convert into vitamin A.
- Vitamin C. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that supports skin health and immune function.
- Vitamin K1. This vitamin is essential for blood clotting. Notably, a spinach leaf contains more than half of your daily requirement.
- Folic acid. Also known as folate or vitamin B9, this compound is vital for pregnant women and essential for normal cell function and tissue growth.
- The iron. Spinach is an excellent source of this important mineral. Iron helps create hemoglobin, which delivers oxygen to the tissues in your body.
- Calcium. This mineral is essential for healthy bones and a crucial signaling molecule for your nervous system, heart, and muscles.
Spinach also contains several other minerals and vitamins, including magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B6, B9, and E.
Spinach contains several important plant compounds, including:
- Lutein. This compound is linked to better eye health.
- Kaempferol. This antioxidant can lower your risk of cancer and chronic disease.
- Nitrates. Spinach contains great amounts of nitrates, which can promote heart health.
- Quercetin. This antioxidant can prevent infection and inflammation. Spinach is one of the richest food sources for quercetin.
- Zeaxanthin. Like lutein, zeaxanthin can also better eye health.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Spinach is extremely healthy and linked to many health benefits.
It has been shown to improve blood pressure, eye health, and oxidative stress.
Free radicals are byproducts of metabolism. They can cause oxidative stress, which accelerates aging and increases the risk of cancer and diabetes.
However, spinach does contain antioxidants, which fight oxidative stress and help reduce the damage it causes.
Also Read: Lentil and Spinach Soup ( Calcium Rich)
A study in eight healthy people found that spinach helped prevent oxidative damage. Although this study is quite small, its findings are supported by other animal and human research.
Spinach is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein, which are the carotenoids responsible for the color of some vegetables.
Human eyes also contain great amounts of these pigments, which protect your eyes from damage caused by sunlight.
Additionally, several studies indicate that lutein and zeaxanthin work to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, which are main causes of blindness.
These compounds may even be able to undo existing damage.
Spinach contains two components, MGDG and SQDG, which can slow the growth of cancer.
In one study, these compounds helped slow growth of tumor in the cervix. They also decreased the tumor size.
Several human studies associate the consumption of spinach with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Eating this leafy green can also help cure breast cancer.
Likewise, an animal study notes that spinach could suppress cancer formation.
Plus, spinach contains high amounts of antioxidants, which can also fight cancer.
Spinach contains high amounts of nitrates, which have been shown to help moderate blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
A study of 27 people found that consuming spinach effectively lowered blood pressure. Several other studies have observed similar effects, indicating that spinach improves heart health.
Spinach is generally considered to be very healthy. However, it can cause unwanted effects in some people.
Kidney stones are caused by the buildup of acid and mineral salts. The most common variety is calcium stones, which are made up of calcium oxalate.
Spinach is high in calcium and oxalates, so people who are at high risk of developing kidney stones should limit their consumption.
Spinach is rich in vitamin K1, which performs several functions in your body, but is best known for its role in blood clotting.
As such, it might interfere with blood thinning medications. People taking blood thinners, such as warfarin, should consult their healthcare practitioner before eating large amounts of spinach.