Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a leafy green vegetable that originated in Persia. It belongs to the amaranth family and is related to beets and quinoa. What’s more, it’s considered very healthy, as it’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. Eating spinach may benefit eye health, reduce oxidative stress, help prevent cancer, and reduce blood pressure levels. There are many ways to prepare spinach. You can buy it canned or fresh and eat it cooked or raw. It’s delicious either on its own or in other dishes. This article tells you everything you need to know about spinach.
1. DIABETES MANAGEMENT
Spinach contains an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative, stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.Studies on alpha-lipoic acid have also shown decreases in peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy in diabetics. However, most studies have used intravenous alpha-lipoic acid, and it is uncertain whether oral supplementation would elicit the same benefits.
2. CANCER PREVENTION
Spinach and other green vegetables contain chlorophyll. Several studies, including this 2013 study carried out on 12,000 animals, have shown chlorophyll to be effective at blocking the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines. These are generated when grilling foods at a high temperature. This can contribute to preventing the growth of cancer.
3. IMPROVES EYESIGHT
Helen M Rasmussen, a researcher at the Cambridge University, in her 2013 report published in the Clinical Interventions in Aging revealed that spinach is a rich source of beta-carotene, lutein, and xanthene, all of which are beneficial for eyesight. Beta-carotene, in raw spinach, helps boost eye health. It can also prevent vitamin A deficiencies, itching eyes, eye ulcers, and dry eyes. The anti-inflammatory properties of these greens can also reduce the puffiness or irritation in the eyes. The lutein and zeaxanthin present in spinach both act as strong antioxidants, thus preventing the eyes from the harsh effects of UV rays that can lead to cataracts. They also reduce the impact of free radicals, which can be a major cause of cataracts and other eye conditions.
4. MAINTAINS BLOOD PRESSURE
Spinach has a very high content of potassium and no sodium content in its raw form prior to preparation. This composition of minerals is very beneficial for high blood pressure patients as potassium lowers and sodium raises the blood pressure. Folate present in spinach also contributes to the reduction of hypertension and relaxes blood vessels, while maintaining proper blood flow. By reducing blood pressure and relaxing the tension of vessels and arteries, you can reduce stress on the cardiovascular system and increase oxygenation to the body’s organ systems for optimal functionality.
5. WEIGHT LOSS
Spinach leaves benefits in weight reduction as it is low in calories and fat. It is very nutritious and has a good quality of fat soluble dietary fibre. This fibre aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar and curbs overeating. Thus, this leafy vegetable is often recommended to dieters because in dieting, it is important to avoid repetitive eating.
6. HEALTHY SKIN AND HAIR
Spinach has large quantities of vitamin A, which moderates the production of oil in the skin pores and hair follicles to moisturize the skin and hair. It is this oil that can build up to cause acne. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Spinach and other leafy greens high in vitamin C are crucial for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Iron deficiency is a common cause of hair loss, which may be prevented by an adequate intake of iron-rich foods, such as spinach.
7. ASTHMA PREVENTION
A study of 433 children with asthma between the ages of 6 and 18 years, and 537 children without, showed that the risks for developing asthma are lower in people who have a high intake of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is beta-carotene. Spinach is an excellent source of beta-carotene.
8. MAINTAINS HEALTHY BONES
Spinach is rich in vitamin K which is vital for maintaining bone health. A cup of boiled spinach provides around 1000% of the RDA of vitamin K which lowers and controls the over activation of osteoclasts. These are the cells that aid in breaking down the bone structure over a short period of time. Vitamin K also promotes the synthesis of osteocalcin, the protein that is essential for maintaining the strength and density of bones. Spinach is a good alternative to dairy products as it gives proper substitute to calcium, thus preventing the occurrence of osteoporosis. It is an important protein diet for vegans as it helps in building the muscle tissues as well as supporting the collagen growth.
9. BRAIN AND NERVOUS FUNCTION
Spinach maintains proper brain functioning specially during old age. Consumption of spinach on a daily basis makes your brain young and active, thus enabling you to think intelligently. Spinach contains folate, vitamin K and vitamin C which help in modulating the hormone production of our nervous system. Vitamin K promotes healthy nervous system and brain function by facilitating the synthesis of sphingolipids, the crucial fat that makes up the Myelin sheath around our nerves. Thus, spinach can prove beneficial for correcting behavioral and cognitive issues.
10. CURES ACNE
Spinach is effective in clearing up acne, thus maintaining healthy skin. To get rid of acne, you can make a face mask by blending spinach with little water and applying it on your face for 20 minutes. This will remove dirt, oil and inflammation from your skin, thus refreshing and rejuvenating it from within. You can also drink spinach juice with other vegetable juices mixed in the following proportions, ½ tomato, ¼ cucumber, 1 carrot, 1 celery, ½ red pepper, ½ cup cabbage, 1 green onion and a handful of spinach. Blend these ingredients to get the juice and drink it daily. This is effective for skin healing and prevents acne.