Health Benefits of Spinach

HealthEnlight Your Daily Health GuideRemember why Popeye loved spinach so much? It was the superfood that gave Popeye his strength as soon as he consumed it. While the leafy green stuff won’t inflate your biceps and make you powerful instantly, the low-calorie content and health benefits of spinach make it no less than a superfood.

Image courtesy of Viacheslav Blizniuk at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Historical Importance:

Spinach is believed to have originated in ancient Persia. It was introduced to china in 7th century via Nepal, where it was known as “Persian vegetable. Germans got to know about the prickly-seeded form of spinach by the 13th century.

Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century via Spain, where the name of the green vegetable was shortened to the name we use at present.

Types of Spinach:

There are mainly three basic types of spinach:
  • Savoy – This type has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is sold in most supermarkets in the United States. Few heirloom varieties of savoy are ‘Bloomsdale’ (resistant to bolting), ‘Merlo Nero’ (a mild variety from Italy) and ‘Viroflay’ (a very large spinach with great yields).
  • Flat- or smooth-leaf spinach  –  This type has broad, smooth leaves that are easier to clean than ‘Savoy’. It is mostly grown for canned and frozen spinach  as well as processed foods. . ‘Giant Noble’ is one of its variety.
  • Semi-savoy  – This type is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. The texture is same as ‘Savoy’, but easier to clean. It is grown for both fresh market and processing. ‘Tyee Hybrid’ is a common variety.

Health Benefits of Spinach:

Anti-Cancer Benefits:

Spinach contains a wide variety of phytonutrients, including flavonoids and carotenoids. These various flavonoid compounds found in spinach acts as anti-cancer agents. Research has shown that spinach can help slow down the cell division in human cancer cells, reduce the risk of skin cancer.

 

Antioxidants Benefits:

Spinach is a good source of antioxidant nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. The antioxidants, particularly the beta-carotene, has been found effective to prevent many cancers, including breasts and ovarian cancer. Antioxidants nutrients in spinach are also beneficial for several regions of the eye, like retina and the macula.

 

Weight Loss:

Cravings for sweets and unhealthy foods is the main cause of obesity in most people. Studies show that eating green leaf membrane called thylakoids curbs the hunger for unhealthy foods. Spinach extracts contain these green leaf membranes which lead to appetite control and weight loss.

Read more: How to curb late night cravings

 

Bone Health:

Abundant Vitamin K is available in spinach which is essential for bone health. Spinach also promotes the production of an essential protein, called osteocalcin, which contains key nutrients like calcium and magnesium for bone building.

 

Skin & Hair:

Green leafy vegetables are known to be great for the skin. Being an excellent source of Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K, it allows good moisture retention within the skin which helps to fight various skin problems like acne, psoriasis and wrinkles. The antioxidants present in spinach acts as anti-ageing agents.

Spinach also promotes hair growth as it is a good source of vitamins B, C and E, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Iron helps to prevent hair loss.

 

Heart Health:

The good amount of potassium in spinach promotes heart health.

 

Iron Deficiency:

Spinach is particularly advised to cure iron deficiency or anemia. The amount of iron present in spinach is abundant.

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