Those of us who are old enough to remember watching Popeye cartoons know that he could eat a can of spinach and instantly become super strong and able to knock Bluto into oblivion. While in reality spinach doesn’t have that kind of immediate effect, it is definitely a powerhouse of nutrients with many health benefits.
Energy – spinach is an excellent source of iron, which is important for your red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Without enough oxygen, you feel tired. Fatigue can also be a result of not consuming enough protein, and three cups of fresh spinach will provide 2 grams of protein. Nutrition bonus: Iron is absorbed more readily when eaten with foods containing vitamin C, and spinach has both.
Blood pressure – spinach is one of the best food sources of magnesium, which has been shown to lower blood pressure. It is also an excellent source of potassium, which helps balance out sodium levels in the blood to keep blood pressure in check.
Cancer prevention – the green color in spinach comes from chlorophyll, an antioxidant that can contribute to preventing the growth of cancer. Spinach is also high in beta carotene, another antioxidant that helps reduce the incidence of chronic diseases like cancer.
Bone health – vitamin K, which is found in abundance in spinach, has been shown to increase bone mineral density in people with osteoporosis and reduce fractures, according to the NIH. This vitamin is also necessary for blood clotting to reduce excessive bleeding after an injury.
Healthy eyes, skin, hair – the vitamin A in spinach is important for growing all tissues, including skin and hair, and it also helps protect the eyes. The vitamin C found in spinach is important for making collagen, which provides structure to the skin and hair. Hair loss is often caused by iron deficiency, which can be avoided by eating iron-rich foods like spinach. Spinach also has lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which strengthen the eyes and help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
Heart health – the magnesium in spinach helps regulate the heartbeat, while maintaining healthy blood pressure is also important for hearth health.
Immune system – both the iron and vitamin C found in spinach are important for a properly functioning immune system, and vitamin C is a potent antioxidant.
Spinach can be eaten raw, steamed, sauteed or added to smoothies, omelets, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, pizza, soups and dips. Be creative and try to incorporate it into your meals regularly.