Spinach is a green, leafy vegetable that is cheap and affordable for everyone. It is a rich source of minerals, vitamins, pigments and phytonutrients. All of these together make spinach very beneficial for a number of vital processes.
The health benefits of spinach include improved eyesight, healthy blood pressure, stronger muscles, the prevention of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, neurological benefits, bone mineralization, anti-ulcerative and anti-cancerous benefits, skin protection, healthy fetal development, and boosted growth for infants. Here are health benefits of spinach.
1. Fetal Development
Folate found in spinach is needed by a growing fetus for proper development of its new nervous system. Defects like cleft palate or spina bifida may occur due to a deficiency of folate. The vitamin A contained in spinach is advised to be consumed in higher quantities by the mother. Vitamin A is required in the lung development of the fetus as well, and can be transferred during breast-feeding, so spinach consumption should be continued after birth as well.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
Because of its high potassium content, spinach is recommended to those with high blood pressure to negate the effects of sodium in the body. A low potassium intake may be just as big of a risk factor in developing high blood pressure as a high sodium intake.
Other high potassium foods include potatoes, tomatoes, lima beans and oranges.
3. Good Eyesight
Spinach is a rich source of beta carotene, lutein and xanthene, all of which are beneficial for eyesight. Beta carotene is supplied to the eyes by cooked spinach. It can prevent people from suffering from vitamin A deficiency, itching eyes, eye ulcers and dry eyes. This is also due to some of the anti-inflammatory properties of spinach, which can reduce the puffiness or irritation in the eyes.
4. Antioxidant Benefits of Spinach
Most of the flavonoid and carotenoid nutrients found in spinach that provide anti-inflammatory benefits provide antioxidant benefits as well. Given the fact that spinach is an excellent source of other antioxidant nutrients — including vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), and manganese — as well as a very good source of the antioxidant zinc and a good source of the antioxidant selenium — it’s no wonder that spinach helps lower risk of numerous health problems related to oxidative stress.
Two of the carotenoids that are especially plentiful in spinach — lutein and zeaxanthin — are primary antioxidants in several regions of the eye, including the retina and the macula. Although we haven’t seen specific studies on spinach intake and prevention of eye-related problems like macular degeneration, we have seen studies showing that human blood levels of lutein can be increased by consumption of spinach in everyday amounts. We’ve also seen at least one group of researchers suggesting that spinach has a likely role to play in prevention of eye problems, including age-related macular degeneration.
5. Bone Mineralization
Spinach is a good source of Vitamin K, which functions in retaining calcium in the bone matrix, thereby leading to bone mineralization. Apart from this, other minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus also help in building up of strong bones. This in turn can prevent an individual from developing osteoporosis of the bones. These minerals are also essential for maintaining healthy teeth and nails.
6. Neurological Benefits
Several components of spinach like potassium, folate, and various antioxidants are known to provide neurological benefits to people who regularly consume them. According to Neurology, folate reduces due the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, so spinach is a very good idea for people who are at high risk of neural or cognitive decline. Potassium is an integral part of brain health as well, and it has been linked to increased blood flow to the brain, and heightened cognition, concentration, and neural activity.
7. Prevents Atherosclerosis and Strokes
Atherosclerosis is caused due to the hardening of the arteries. A pigment called lutein that is 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 tend to reduce the cholesterol and other fat deposits in the blood vessels.
8. Combats Ovarian and Prostate Cancers
The Journal of Nutrition reports that our leafy friend, spinach, contains a carotenoid that makes prostate cancers destroy themselves. This same carotenoid, after being changed by the intestines, prevents prostrate cancer from reproducing itself. Spinach also contains kaempferol, a strong antioxidant that prevents the formation of cancerous cells. Women who have a high intake of this flavonoid show a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, likely because of kaempferol’s ability to reduce cancer cells proliferation. Kaempferol is also found in non-herbal tea, onions, apples, citrus, grapes, red wine, curly kale, St. John’s wort, leeks, broccoli and blueberries.
It has been found that spinach and some other vegetables have the ability to protect the mucous membrane of the stomach, thereby decreasing the occurrence of gastric ulcers. Furthermore, the glycocyclerolipids found in spinach can boost the strength of the digestive tract lining, thereby preventing any unwanted inflammation in that part of the body that can cause harm.
10. Improves Brain Function and Protects Against Aging
Still need motivation to eat a few servings of spinach every day? This dark green leaf will protect your brain function from premature aging and slow old age’s typical negative effects on your metal capabilities. Spinach accomplishes this by preventing the harmful effects of oxidation on your brain. Those who eat a vegetables in quantity, especially those of the leafy green variety, experience a decrease in brain function loss. However, there is no such correlation with fruit consumption. Oh, and iceberg lettuce doesn’t cut it. A good rule of thumb: the darker the leaf, the better. Which brings us back to spinach.
11. Anti-Inflammatory Capacity
There are many anti-inflammatory compounds found in spinach, more than a dozen, in fact. They are classified into the category of methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides, and spinach is one of the most powerful vegetables when it comes to reducing inflammation throughout the body. This not only means protecting the heart from dangerous inflammation and preventing cancer, but also in reducing the inflammation and associated pain from conditions like arthritis and gout, which afflict millions of people around the world.
12. Boosts Immune System
One cup of spinach contains over 337% of the RDA of vitamin A that not only protects and strengthens “entry points” into the human body, such as mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts, but is also a key component of lymphocytes (or white blood cells) that fight infection.
13. Protects Skin
Different phytonutrients and pigments have been shown to protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun, including UV rays. These not only protect, but also repair the damaged genes to some extent, thereby preventing skin cancer in the long run.
14. Strengthens Muscles
A component of spinach, factor C0-Q10, which is an antioxidant, plays an important role in strengthening muscles, especially heart muscles which continuously pump blood to all parts of the body. According to the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, C0-Q10 can be used to prevent and treat many cardiovascular diseases like hyperlipidemia, heart failure, hypertension and coronary heart disease.