It is a well-known fact that spinach is good for you. And while our cartoon hero, Popeye, predominantly used it to make himself strong, you may be surprised to discover that he may have also been helping to protect himself against inflammatory problems, blood pressure issues, bone problems and stress-related issues (among others) too.
Spinach ranks in the top of foods known for nutrient richness. It contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals and is also full of health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids – all of which provide us with powerful antioxidant protection.
Nutritional Breakdown of Spinach
• 839 milligrams of potassium per cooked cup (more than a banana, which contains about 539mg).
• A fantastic source of iron (6.4mg). A lack of iron affects how efficiently your body uses energy.
• A great source of dietary magnesium (24 milligrams). This nutrient is essential for energy metabolism. Magnesium also maintains muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, a healthy immune system and maintains blood pressure.
• It also contains vitamin K, fiber, phosphorous and thiamine.
• 27 calories
How to Select and Store Spinach
Spinach should have vibrant, dark green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and should not be wilted and bruised. Leaves with a slimy coating should be avoided as this indicates decay. To store this leafy veg, place it in a plastic storage bag and wrap it tightly, squeezing the air out as much as possible, then place it in the refrigerator and consume within 5 days. Cooked spinach should not be stored as it will not keep very well.
10 Health Benefits of Spinach
1. Helps in overcoming anemia: Spinach is a great source of iron – a mineral that is essential in preventing anemia. Half a cup of spinach contains 3.2mg of iron which accounts for about 20 percent of the iron requirement for a woman’s body.
2. Helps prevent asthma: Studies have shown that people who consume high amounts of certain nutrients – including beta-carotene (an antioxidant) have a lower risk for developing asthma. And spinach is an excellent source of such a nutrient.
3. Helps lower blood pressure: Research has shown that a diet low in potassium may be just as much of a contributing factor to high blood pressure as a diet high in sodium. Spinach contains high levels of potassium which helps negate the effects of sodium in the body.
4. Promotes bone health: Spinach contains a wealth of vitamin K, which research suggests is beneficial for maintaining bone health. Spinach is also an excellent source of bone supporting nutrients including calcium and magnesium.
5. Has anti-cancer properties: Spinach contains high levels of phytonutrient content (including flavonoids and carotenoids) that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. In fact, studies have shown that spinach may slow down cell division in human stomach cancer cells and may reduce the risk of skin cancer.
6. An excellent source of antioxidant nutrients: Due to its excellent source of antioxidant nutrients – including vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A and manganese, and its fantastic source of the antioxidants zinc, and selenium, spinach helps lower the risk of numerous health problems related to stress.
7. Promotes regularity: Spinach is high in fiber and water content, both of which help prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.
8. Promotes healthy skin and hair: Spinach is a great source of vitamin A – a nutrient necessary for sebum production to keep hair moisturized. Like other leafy greens, spinach is high in vitamin C, which helps build and maintain collagen, providing structure to the skin.
9. Reduces the risk of cataracts: Spinach contains lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which act as a strong antioxidant, which helps prevent the eyes from the harsh effects of UV rays which can lead to cataracts.
10. Reduces the likelihood of developing ulcers: It has been found that spinach has the ability to protect the mucous membrane of the stomach, decreasing the occurrence of gastric ulcers. Spinach has also been shown to boost the strength of the digestive tract lining, preventing inflammation in that part of the body which may cause harm.