The Health Benefits of Spinach
When I was still a kid, the health benefits of spinach intrigue me a lot. I mean how can a frail-looking sailor suddenly develop a buffed bud after eating this vegetable? That was then.
It's surprising however, that today, there are still a few who don't believe that spinach are real vegetables. Apparently, they have been stuck to the idea of spinach being a make-believe power food featured in the make-believe Popeye cartoon.
The Truth About Spinach
The truth about spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is that it is indeed a power food. It's packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidant contents. It's one of the most gracious green and leafy vegetables around. In fact, the more green and vibrant their colors are, the higher are their nutritional values.
The health benefits of spinach include: Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B9 (Folic acid), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Manganese, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Fiber, and Protein. Others nutrients include: Zinc, Choline, Omega-3, Anti-oxidants and Flavonoids.
These health benefits however, may be affected by the vegetable's oxalate content. Oxalates are chemicals present in most plants, nuts and seeds that inhibit the absorption of minerals like calcium and iron. In this case, while the health benefits of spinach from calcium and iron may be generous, its oxalates significantly decrease our ability to absorb them.
Because of this chemical element, eating spinach raw may not provide us as much health of benefits of spinach as we had hoped for. One way of preventing the presence oxalic acids in spinach is by cooking them, particularly boiling in a generous amount of water for about a minute. Also, we may increase our calcium and non-heme iron absorption from spinach by cooking it with other vegetables.
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Health Benefits of Spinach to Our Bodies
Let's look at the potential health benefits of spinach to our daily lives.
- Folate, fibers and the rich antioxidant contents of spinach help promote cardiovascular health. Folate helps lower the homocysteine levels of our blood; while fiber aids in controlling our blood sugar level. The antioxidants aid in the prevention of other heart and blood diseases such as stroke and diabetes.
- Vitamin K, C, E and beta-carotene contents are the health benefits of spinach that promotes bone health. More so, the calcium that we absorb from spinach helps strengthen our bones. You can fight away disease like osteoporosis with regular spinach intake.
- Vitamin K also promotes brain health and a well-functioning nervous system. The flavonoids present in spinach not only feed the brain cells which helps improve memory retention; they also slow the process of aging.
- Vitamin A is one of the health benefits of spinach which promotes skin health. It helps maintain our skin fresh and aglow. Spinach helps fight skin problems whether it’s a simple pimple issue or a severe psoriasis condition.
- The health benefits of spinach also include eye health. Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are also present in spinach. They help prevent degenerative diseases of the eyes like macular degeneration and cataracts.
Other health benefits of spinach include digestive health and stronger defense systems which help us fight certain cancers such as the lung, breast and prostate cancers.
Health Benefits of Spinach for Weight Watchers
Those who are concerned with their weight more than anything else. The health benefits of spinach may also serve this purpose.
Spinach is a low-calorie food, just like many of the green leafy vegetables you know. A cup of spinach gives you only a consumption of 40 calories while it is packed with fibers and proteins that are essential for a weight management diet. As the fibers help in controlling your usual hunger pangs, the proteins give you loaded up energy which makes you feel fuller longer.
Get the Best from Spinach: Buy Organic or Grow Your Own
Spinach is undoubtedly one of the most versatile and nutritious foods among the vegetable pack. However, they may easily contain harmful pesticide residue and chemicals. To get the most nutrients from them, it's best to go organic; better yet, plant your own.
What does it mean to eat Organic Foods or Organically Grown Foods?
Foods with soft and thin layers of skin are easily exposed to harmful pesticides. Even after washing, these foods may still contain elements that are not safe to eat. Organic foods are produced without synthetic or man-made pesticides and fertilizers. They are safer to eat.
Organic farming promotes a safe environment (e.g. soil, air, water, produce) because natural pesticides and fertilizers are being used in farming. Organic products may however be more expensive than those conventionally grown. If the budget is limited, choose organic fruits, vegetables and dairy products that are more prone to pesticides. Spinach, along with tomatoes, apples and pears are some of the examples of foods that are best bought organic.
Buying organic products and supporting organic farming provide safer food for the family AND a richer environment for the future generation.
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Here's a Quick and Easy Spinach Recipe
This recipe is great for a quick lunch or dinner for two. It goes very well with anything fried.
- Cooking oil
- Sesame seeds
- Dill tips
- Oyster sauce
- Fish sauce
- Saute' the garlic with the spinach stems in oil.
- Add water, oyster sauce and fish sauce.
- Let the mixture simmer under low heat.
- Add the spinach leaves. Mix well.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds and the dill.
- Remove from pan.
- Serve while hot.
Rate This Low-Calorie Recipe If You Enjoyed it.
Given the health benefits of spinach, it is perhaps right to follow the good habit of our dear old sailor Mr. Popeye. Adding spinach to our diets may indeed make us stronger, fitter and smarter.