The Spinach Powerhouse

Words: Team THINKWELLNESS360

Spinach, a nutrient powerhouse, can be consumed raw, or cooked. It, however, provides more nutrients when cooked.

Do you know that cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits? Just half a cup of cooked spinach will give you thrice the amount of nutrition as one cup of raw spinach. This is because the body cannot completely break down the nutrients in raw spinach for its use.

We all know that Popeye, the sailor man, got his great strength by consuming a lot of spinach. In fact, the popularity of Popeye helped boost spinach sales; it also led to increased consumption of spinach among children.

Well, what we might not know is that children who consumed spinach due to their fondness for their favourite cartoon character, Popeye, actually got a rich dose of vital nutrients that help fight against several disorders. Spinach is rich in vitamins and minerals; it also contains health-promoting phytonutrients, such as carotenoids [beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin] and flavonoids that provide nature-powered antioxidant ammo.

Spinach is loaded with proteins and iron too. Due to its high nutritional content, and medicinal properties, spinach does wonders for your skin, hair, and bone health. It also improves blood glucose control in diabetics, it lowers the risk of cancer, as well as asthma and blood pressure, while boosting bone health, and more. Spinach is high in fibre and water content — this helps to prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.

Nutritional Catalogue 

Most of the calories in spinach come from proteins. Spinach is also one of the best sources of dietary potassium, weighing 839mg per cup [cooked]. To compare, one banana has about 539mg of potassium. Spinach contains approximately 250mg of calcium per cup [cooked]. However, it is less easily absorbed than calcium from sources like dairy products. Spinach has a high oxalate content, which binds to calcium, deeming it unavailable for use in our bodies.

Spinach is also one of the best sources of dietary magnesium, which is necessary for energy metabolism, maintaining muscle and nerve function, heart rhythms, healthy immune system and blood pressure. Magnesium supports several biochemical reactions that occur in the body.

Spinach also contains vitamin K, dietary fibre, phosphorus and thiamine.

One cup of raw spinach contains 27 calories. It provides for —

  • 86gm protein
  • 30mg of calcium
  • 81gm of iron
  • 24mg of magnesium
  • 167mg of potassium
  • 2813IUs of vitamin A
  • 58mcg of folate.

Health Benefits 

Diabetes. The antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid [ALA] in spinach has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in diabetics. Studies on alpha-lipoic acid have also shown that it decreases peripheral neuropathy and/or autonomic neuropathy in diabetics.

Cancer prevention. Spinach and other green vegetables contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is evidenced to be effective in blocking carcinogenic activity.

Asthma prevention. The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume high amount of certain nutrients, like spinach.

High blood pressure. Spinach, thanks to its high potassium content,  is suggested to reduce high blood pressure levels.

Bone health. Adequate vitamin K consumption is important — it acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption and may reduce urinary excretion of calcium.

Healthy skin and hair. Spinach is high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Spinach and other leafy greens high in vitamin C are imperative for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Iron-deficiency is a common cause of hair loss — this can be prevented with the intake of iron-rich foods, like spinach.

Did You Know? 

Freezing spinach diminishes its health benefits. The best thing to do is to buy it fresh and eat it the same day. A handful of research studies have shown that taking spinach in juice form is a healthy way to consuming it. You’d, likewise, blend it with other vegetables, or fruits, to create a delicious glass of juice, or green smoothie.

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