Native to Central Asia, SPINACH is a greeny leafy plant belonging to the Amaranthaceae family. Scientifically known as Spinacia Oleracea, spinach is related to beetroot and quinoa. It can easily be categorized as one of the healthiest foods on earth because of its amazing nutritional composition and health benefits.
Spinach is a rich source of several nutrients. By weight, spinach has 91.4% water, 3.6% carbohydrates, and 2.9% protein. One cup of raw spinach contains 0.81 gram of iron, 24 milligram of magnesium, 0.86 gram of protein, 30 milligram of calcium, 167 milligram of potassium, 2,813 international units of vitamin A, C, and K, manganese, phosphorus, thiamine, and fiber along with 7 calories. Most of the calories in spinach come from protein and carbohydrates.
Spinach can be consumed as raw, steamed, or cooked in oil. The health benefits of spinach are given below:
Improves eyesight and protects against macular degeneration and cataract: Spinach contains large quantities of beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which are beneficial for eyesight; especially zeaxanthin which is an important dietary carotenoid. The retinal macula lutea in the eyes selectively absorbs zeaxanthin, which acts as antioxidant and guards against ultraviolet (UV) light. It therefore protects older adults from macular degeneration. Being powerful antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of cataract and other eye diseases which may be caused due to free radicals. The large amount of vitamin A in spinach also helps prevent itchy eyes, dry eyes, and eye ulcers. Vitamin A is also essential for night vision. As spinach has anti-inflammatory properties, it helps reduce puffiness of eyes as well.
Helps maintain blood pressure: As spinach has rich content of potassium and low content of sodium, it is quite favorable for patients of hypertension because potassium reduces and sodium increases blood pressure. Due to the presence of folate, spinach relaxes blood vessels along with reducing hypertension, and thus maintains proper blood flow. As this also lessens the strain on the cardiovascular system, it makes the organ systems in the body function properly.
Boosts immunity: Spinach is a storehouse for many phytonutrients that boosts immunity and prevents diseases. Antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin A and C, along with flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene act as natural scavengers of free radicals in the body and thus improve immune system and help slow down ageing process.
Helps keep away bacteria and viruses: Being high in vitamin A, spinach helps the skin and mucous membrane to effectively keep away bacteria and viruses.
Keeps skin and hair healthy: The rich content of vitamin A in spinach regulates oil production in skin and hair and keeps them healthy and moisturized. Vitamin A is rather essential for the growth of all body tissues. The phytonutrients found in spinach protect the skin from harmful UV rays and prevent skin cancer in the long run by repairing the damaged genes to some extent. The large amount of vitamin C present in spinach is important for the building and maintenance of collagen, which is a protein that helps our skin, hair, nails, and connective tissues. One of the most common causes of hair-loss is iron deficiency and since spinach is a good source of iron as well, it helps prevent hair-loss and keeps hair healthy.
Helps control cholesterol and manage weight: Spinach is low in calories and contains good amount of fiber. This makes it ideal for weight management. According to a recent study, thylakoid found in spinach helps curb cravings and hunger which can aid in weight loss. As it is low in fat, it is often recommended to control cholesterol as well.
Helps prevent atherosclerosis: Spinach proteins lessen cholesterol and fat deposit in blood vessels and thus reduce hardening of arteries which is the main cause of atherosclerosis. Lutein in spinach has also been found to reduce the occurrence of atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks.
Beneficial in hemophilia: As spinach contains large content of vitamin K, it helps in the clotting of blood by producing prothrombin and thereby helps control excessive bleeding. Spinach may thus help relieve symptoms of hemophilia.
Maintains bone health: Being rich in vitamin K that helps in the retention of calcium in bone matrix, spinach helps in bone mineralization too. It plays an important role in improving bone mass by supporting osteoblastic activity in the bones. Other minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc also help in bone strengthening and preventing development of osteoporosis.
Aids fetal growth: Folate present in spinach aids the growth of fetus and helps it develop proper nervous system. Deficiency of folate may cause defects like cleft lip and cleft palate or spina bifida. Spinach is often recommended to pregnant women because of the presence of vitamin A, which is required by the fetus for lung development.