Most of us or say the ’90s kids grew up watching Popeye the sailor man whose power booster was spinach. A can of spinach would pump up his muscles and make him the strongest among all the men. Ever wondered if this was possible in real life? Obviously, it won’t have the similar effect, but you’ll be amazed to know the number of benefits it holds. Go through the article to uncover the nutrition facts and health benefits of spinach that you’ve been looking for.
What is Spinach?
Belonging to the family Amaranthaceae, spinach is an edible plant, the leaves of which are eaten as a vegetable. Spinach is originated from Central and Southwestern Asia, commonly called as ‘Palak’ in Hindi, and has the scientific name Spinacia oleracea. It is one of the most common vegetables of winter, survives till early spring, and grows in temperate regions. Spinach can be eaten raw as an ingredient of salad, cooked, sauteed, and even as soup. There are three varieties of spinach, including savoy ( dark green, curly leaves), flat- or smooth-leaf spinach, and semi-savoy.
Interesting Facts About Spinach
- Spinach is an annual plant which completes its life cycle in a year.
- During the medieval times, the green pigments of spinach were used in painting.
- During the first World War, French soldiers consumed wine mixed with spinach juice to recover from excessive bleeding.
- Due to the famous cartoon character Popeye whose source of power of spinach, the consumption of spinach increased by 30% during the 1930s in the USA.
- China is the largest producer of Spinach in the world and produces about 95% of the global production.
- in China, spinach is widely known as ‘the Persian Green’ indicating its origin to Persia.
- Spinach is a member of goose-foot family and makes it a relative of beets.
- Spinach loses its nutritional properties with each passing day. Therefore, it is best eaten fresh.
- Spinach leaves are a mild diuretic and mild laxative.
- ‘Birds Eye’ was the first company to advertise frozen spinach.
Nutritional Value of Spinach
The nutritional value of 100 grams of raw spinach is given below.
- Energy: 23 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 3.6 g
- Sugars: 0.4 g
- Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
- Fat: 0.4 g
- Protein: 2.9 g
- Vitamin A equiv.: 469 μg
- beta-carotene: 5626 μg
- lutein zeaxanthin: 12198 μg
- Vitamin A: 9377 IU
- Thiamine: 0.078 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.189 mg
- Niacin: 0.724 mg
- Vitamin B-6: 0.195 mg
- Folate: 194 μg
- Vitamin C: 28 mg
- Vitamin E: 2 mg
- Vitamin K: 483 μg
- Vitamin A equiv.: 469 μg
- Calcium: 99 mg
- Iron: 2.71 mg
- Magnesium: 79 mg
- Manganese: 0.897 mg
- Phosphorus: 49 mg
- Potassium: 558 mg
- Sodium: 79 mg
- Zinc: 0.53 mg
Health Benefits of Spinach
With this undeniable nutritional profile, you can totally imagine the plethora of health benefits of spinach.
1. Is Spinach Good for Your Eyes?
Yes, spinach contains vitamin A and its equivalent like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin which are absolutely beneficial for the eyes. It copes up with the deficiency of vitamin A and relieves you from itching eyes, eyes ulcers, dry eyes, and even night blindness. These nutrients keeps the mucus membrane healthy and improves your eyesight.
2. Prevents Cataract
Free radicals and UV rays are the major factors that leads to the development of cataracts and several eye disorders as you get older. Lutein and zeaxanthin present in spinach lower the risk of cataract formation. Abundant of other antioxidants are also found in spinach that fight the harmful effects of free radicals, and thereby prevent glaucoma and macular degeneration.
3. Combats Cancer
Spinach is an anti-cancer agent as it contains a phytonutrient called flavonoids, they slow down the division of stomach and skin cancer cells. Additionally, presence of folate, tocopherol, and chlorophyllin in spinach treat and protect cancer patients. It has positive effect on various forms of cancer, including bladder, prostate, liver and lungs.
4. Improves Bone Health
Rich in vitamin K, spinach helps in retaining calcium in bone matrix, regulates the activation of osteoclasts, and aids in osteocalcin synthesis, a protein that maintains the density and strength of the bone.
5. Good for Muscle Strength
Spinach contains factor C0-Q10, an antioxidant which improves the strength of the muscle. It not only helps in building the muscle tissue but also supports collagen production. Spinach is particularly good for heart muscles and aids in the pumping of heart.
6. Regulates Blood Pressure
A combination of high potassium and low potassium content in the spinach makes it a great food for heart patients. Potassium lowers the blood pressure while sodium raises it. Spinach is also a source of folate which relaxes the blood vessels, maintains proper blood flow, and thereby reduces hypertension. These nutrients reduce tension or stress in the cardiovascular system and improves oxygenation to our body organs.
7. Better the Brain Function
Abundance of antioxidants, such as potassium, vitamin C, folate in spinach provide many neurological benefits. They reduce the risk of neural or cognitive decline and brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. As mentioned above, potassium improves blood flow in our body, especially in the brain which boosts concentration, logical and neural activity.
8. Is Spinach Good for Weight Loss?
Spinach is low in fats and calories which makes it an ideal food losing weight. Another component found abundantly in spinach is dietary fiber. It aids in digestion, curbs hunger pangs, prevents constipation, and makes you feel fuller. This is indeed one of the best vegetables for dieters.
9. Controls Diabetes
Consuming spinach lowers glucose level, maintains insulin sensitivity, and prevents oxidative changes in the body. It contains alpha-lipoic acid that is absolutely beneficial for diabetes patients.
10. Benefits of Spinach During Pregnancy
Spinach helps to meet the daily requirement of folate for a pregnant woman. It helps in the development of nervous system of the baby and protects from birth defects which mainly occurs due to the deficiency of folate. Spinach also improves the intake of vitamin A which is necessary for lungs development and can transfer to baby through breastfeeding too.
11. Good for Babies
Spinach is beneficial for babies with poor appetite as it is easily digestible. It provides nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients which are essential for the growth of the baby.
12. Boosts Immune System
Presence of vitamin A, B and C in spinach improves the immunity and combats infections in our body. These vitamins are the antioxidants that cleanses the body from oxygen derived free radicals.
13. Fights Inflammation
Spinach is known for its inflammatory properties. The compounds in spinach comes under the category methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides which is very powerful in reducing the inflammation in our body. Dentist recommends the intake of spinach as it treats inflammation in the gums and throat.
14. Benefits of Spinach for Skin
Abundance of vitamins and minerals in spinach prove to be beneficial for your skin and cures skin issues.
- Spinach helps remove excess oil, dirt, and even inflammation from the skin.
- It cures acne formation and related issues.
- Vitamin B in spinach protects your skin from premature aging, tan, sun damage and harmful UV rays.
- It copes with age-related degradation of skin, rejuvenates it and make your skin look younger.
- Spinach helps in the repairing of skin and evens the skin tone by reducing acne, bruising on the skin and dark circles.
15. Spinach Benefits of Hair
The health benefits of spinach just do not end with body and skin, it provides many benefits to hair as well.
- Spinach contains vitamins B, C and E, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids which promote hair growth.
- It strengthens the hair follicles and promotes stronger strands.
- Spinach is rich in folate and iron that improves the blood flow and combats hair loss.
Now, we know the source of Popeye’s strength. These plethora of benefits will surely maximize the well-being of your health. Go ahead, take it in moderate amount and reap all the amazing health benefits of spinach.