(OrganicJar) When you think of superfoods spinach typically doesn’t come to mind. You probably think of hemp seeds, goji berries, or maca root. What makes it deserve superfod status is the truly impressive list of compounds that have been discovered in spinach.
Beyond the iron that Popeye was yearning for, spinach contains carotenoids, antioxidants, vitamin K, coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, polyphenols, betaine and, interestingly, plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids. This is a condensed list and it’s hard to convey the powerful impact of these nutrients as they work synergistically to promote health but to put it simply: just about anything that is or might ever be wrong with your health, you can battle with spinach.
Spinach is a Powerhouse of Nutrients:
In just one cup of cooked spinach…
- High in Protein – The highest vegetable protein around! One cup of spinach equals 5g of protein. (12% DV)
- Super high in Vitamin A – Over 18,000 IU (377% DV). Vitamin A benefits the heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized in the body.
- Crazy high in Vitamin K – Second only to Cauliflower with over 880 mcg (1111% DV) Vitamin K is essential as it helps calcium adhere to the bone making them stronger.
- Great source of Folate/Folic Acid – Over 260 mcg or 66% DV. Which is particularly important for pregnant or nursing women.
- Nice source of Vitamin C – With 17.6 mg or 29% DV. This also benefits the heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized in the body.
- Great source of Minerals – 84% DV of manganese, 39% DV of magnesium, 36% DV of iron, 24% DV of potassium, and 24% DV of calcium.
- 13 Flavonoids that help to fight cancer, protect against age related memory loss, and prevent heart disease.
- Decent source of Fiber with 4.3g or 17% DV.
All this in one cup of spinach and we’re still not done!
How Spinach Improves Your Health:
Anti-Cancer and Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants
Researchers have identified more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. In a recent study on the relationship between risk of prostate cancer and vegetable intake (including such healthy vegetables as broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts) only spinach showed evidence of significant protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer.
Alkalizes the Body
All those minerals helps to balance off the highly acid diet which most of us subject our bodies to and which drains our energy, increases obesity, and creates a host of other health problems.
Nourishes the Eyes
The carotenoids found in spinach protect against eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Prevents Atherosclerosis and Diabetic Heart Disease
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, the latter notably through its concentration of beta-carotene. These two nutrients are important antioxidants that work to reduce the amounts of free radicals in the body; vitamin C works as a water-soluble antioxidant and beta-carotene as a fat-soluble one. This water-and-fat-soluble antioxidant team helps to prevent cholesterol from becoming oxidized and sticking to your blood vessel walls.
Clears Up Acne
The most useful vitamins of spinach are vitamin A, C, E, and K. They are great for your skin. The antioxidants contained in spinach will clear up acne quickly. They will also help with eczema, psoriasis, and even prevent skin cancer from the sun.
Strengthens the Bones
One cup of fresh spinach (or 1/6 cup of cooked spinach) contains TWICE your daily vitamin K needs. This along with the calcium and magnesium in spinach is essential to maintain healthy bones.
Health Benefits of Spinach: Cooked or Raw?
The short answer: both.
Health benefits to cooking spinach: cooking releases beta-carotene and lutein, and it also neutralizes oxalic acid or oxalate, a compound that inhibits the absorption of both calcium and iron. This is why you don’t reuse the cooking water from spinach. It’s recommended that you boil spinach quickly – just for a minute!
Health benefits to raw spinach: Vitamin C and folate are both very heat-sensitive, so to obtain the maximum benefits of these compounds, eat spinach in your salads.
Use it Up Quickly!
By the eighth day after harvest, even when refrigerated well, spinach has lost so many of its nutrients that it might not even be worthy of superfood status anymore. For example, almost half the folic acid is gone after eight days(and how long does it take to get from the field to your door?). Use that spinach as soon as possible, and blanch and freeze it if you can’t use it quickly.
Tips and Cautions:
Tip #1: Make sure you only choose organic spinach. Non-organic spinach is on the list of top foods with lots of chemical pesticides. You can assume that canned spinach is NOT organic. I can’t imagine anyone eating canned spinach anyway but since we mentioned Popeye I thought I had better mention that.
Tip #2: Choose the greenest looking spinach you can find. Probably you would have anyway, but studies have shown that the greenest spinach has the most vitamin C.
Tip #3: Because spinach contains high levels of so many nutrients it also has significant levels of oxalic acid. This has been associated with kidney problems and interference with absorption of other minerals.
What Are Your Thoughts on the Benefits of Spinach? Leave a Comment Below.
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