Reasons why you should eat spinach
Spinach and other dark green vegetables are loaded with nutrients in a low-calorie package, so they’re ideal if you’re looking to watch your weight.
Spinach’s intense green colour is important for skin and hair health, and provides the body with a hearty amount of iron, vitamins and minerals.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of including spinach in your diet.
One cup (30g) of raw spinach contains:
0.86g of protein,
30 m gof calcium
0.81 grams of iron,
24 mg of magnesium,
167 milligrams of potassium,
2813 IU (international units) of vitamin A
58 micrograms Folate
Spinach is one of the best sources of dietary magnesium, which is necessary for generating energy from nutrients (energy metabolism), maintaining muscle and nerve function, keeping your heart healthy, protecting your immune system and maintaining blood pressure.
Spinach is considered a low-glycaemic index (GI) food, which means eating it will help support healthy and stable blood glucose levels.
Spinach contains an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, believed to reduce some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid is shown to help lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin resistance and may also help to protect against damage to the body’s cells.
Studies also demonstrated that alpha-lipoic acid supplements can help with neuropathy (nerve damage) caused by diabetes. (Please be aware however, these studies refer to patients being given alpha-lipoic in supplement form, rather than directly from spinach).
Studies suggest that people who eat meals that are rich in fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of cancer. Spinach and other green vegetables contain lots of fibre, folate and carotenoids - pigments found in plants.
Carotenoids act as antioxidants to eliminate potentially dangerous ‘free radicals’ (that can cause damage to cells, proteins and DNA) in the body. Researchers believe that the behaviour of carotenoids, acting as antioxidants, is what gives them their potential cancer preventing qualities.
Many studies have shown that the risks of developing asthma are lower in people who consume a large amount of certain nutrients including beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A, which can be found in spinach. It is said to reduce the risk of developing asthma because it helps to reduce airway inflammation. You will also find high levels of beta-carotene in carrots, apricots, broccoli, melon and squash.
A Swedish study has shown that spinach is one of the ‘superfoods’ that will help to reduce high blood pressure due to its wealth of heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, folate and magnesium.
A potassium-rich diet helps the body become more efficient at flushing out excess sodium, which can raise blood pressure, and magnesium helps promote healthy blood flow.
Due to the high levels of potassium found in spinach, it’s a must for those with high blood pressure. You can also find plenty of potassium in potatoes, tomatoes, beans and oranges.
The food you eat can affect your bones. Spinach contains a healthy amount of vitamin K and magnesium, which according to the The National Osteoporosis Foundation are important for good bone health.
Research suggests a low intake or deficiency in vitamin K has been linked to an increased risk of bone fracture. Vitamin K acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, it helps to improve calcium absorption, and may reduce the amount of calcium that leaves the body in urine.
The high level of potassium in spinach is also helpful in protecting against bone mineral density loss, said Ware. Additionally, spinach contains calcium, well known to be important for bones.
Spinach promotes bowel regularity, because it’s rich in fibre and is made up of 92% water. This leafy vegetable is great if you’re prone to constipation as it promotes a healthy digestive tract.
Another good thing about spinach is that it is rich in vitamin A. You need vitamin A for the production of sedum, which is an oily substance that is produced by the body to help to keep the skin and hair hydrated.
Vitamin A is also key to help maintain the skin and promote healthy hair growth. Spinach is also essential for the construction and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to the skin and hair, helping it to remain healthy. Plus spinach contains a wealth of antioxidants that help to fight all kinds of skin problems.
Despite all the benefits that spinach can offer, there’s a few scenarios that you need to be aware of. If someone is taking blood-thinners, such as warfarin, it is important not to make drastic dietary changes to include large amounts of vitamin K, because this could decrease the effectiveness of the blood thinner in the body.
Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys do not function properly, so precautions should be taken when consuming potassium rich foods such as spinach. Also, if the kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal. It is important that people with kidney problems do not consume dangerously high levels of potassium.
In summary, spinach is best consumed as part of a well-rounded, nutritious diet.