by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
If you’ve ever watched Popeye the Sailor Man, then you’re probably familiar with his love for spinach. While he may have been a fictional character, Popeye was definitely onto something when it came to the health benefits of this leafy green. Spinach is a nutrient-packed powerhouse that has been enjoyed for centuries, and for good reason.
Whether you’re looking to improve your vision, strengthen your bones, or boost your immunity, spinach has got you covered. Not only is it low in calories and high in fiber, but it’s also loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, iron, and calcium. So, if you want to give your body a healthy boost, grab a handful of spinach and let its mighty nutrients work their magic.
In this article, we will dive deeper and discuss some of the most important health benefits of spinach and why you should consume more of this leafy green.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before changing your nutrition or workout program.
Nutritional Values of Spinach
One cup of spinach contains the following values:
Total Fat: 0.1g
Total Carbs: 1.1g
Top 5 Reasons to Include Spinach in Your Diet
While spinach may not be the most thrilling food out there, its nutritional benefits are plentiful. Below are some of them:
1. Oxidative Stress
Free radicals are the byproducts of metabolism. They can lead to oxidative stress, which activates accelerated aging and can increase the risk of various diseases. Spinach contains powerful antioxidants, which can fight oxidative stress and help decrease the damage it causes.
According to a study of eight healthy people, it was found that spinach helped prevent oxidative damage. The study may be quite small, but its findings are backed up by other human and animal research.
2. Brain Health
Since spinach has natural anti-inflammatory effects, it becomes a key contender for the protection of our brain, more so when it comes to aging.
According to a study published in 2015 in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, researchers tracked the cognitive abilities and eating patterns of more than 900 adults aged around 58 to 98 years for above five years. The researchers observed a significant reduction in the rate of cognitive decline among those who had more significant amounts of leafy green vegetables, like spinach, than others.
According to the data, it was also noticed that people who consumed 1-2 servings of those vegetables daily had similar cognitive abilities as those approximately 7.5 years younger than their actual age.
3. Eye Health
Spinach is a rich source of lutein, an antioxidant that has been associated with safeguarding against age-related eye disorders, including macular degeneration and cataracts. Various studies have demonstrated that individuals who consume lutein supplements have a reduced risk of macular degeneration, a condition that leads to vision loss and blindness.
As per a study published in the Journal of the Japanese Ophthalmological Society in 2016, 11 participants were analyzed to examine the effects of consuming 75 grams of frozen spinach containing 10 milligrams of lutein daily for two months. The research concluded that consuming spinach, which is high in lutein, augmented the participants’ blood lutein levels and enhanced macular pigment optical density (MPOD) measurements.
4. Weight Loss
If you are looking to lose weight, adding spinach to your diet is highly recommended, as it provides numerous benefits. Not only are spinach leaves low in calories, but they are also high in fiber, aiding digestion, regulating blood sugar levels, and preventing constipation. You can enjoy these health benefits by consuming spinach just once a day.
Spinach can also help you feel full and reduce your appetite, making it a valuable addition to your weight loss routine. With its many benefits, incorporating spinach into your daily diet can help you reach your weight loss goals in a healthy and effective way.
Studies have also shown that spinach can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce bad cholesterol levels, making it a beneficial addition to a weight loss diet.
5. Blood Pressure
Spinach is naturally abundant in nitrates, which are compounds that have been shown to improve blood flow and regulate blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels, promoting dilation, and reducing arterial stiffness, similar to the effects of beetroot. By reducing blood pressure, these effects can help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Additionally, research suggests that nitrate-rich foods such as spinach may improve survival rates for heart attack patients. According to a study of 27 people, it was found that eating spinach effectively reduced blood pressure levels. There are many other studies that observed similar effects, which show that spinach boosts heart health.