Spinach, either eaten raw or cooked is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins as well as beneficial phytochemicals. Among the world’s useful vegetables, spinach lis listed among the top for its nutrient richness. The concentrated phytonutrients such as carotenoids (lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthine) and flavonoids provide you with powerful antioxidant protection. There are three different types of Spinach – Savoy has crisp, creased curly leaves, Semi Savoy is similar in texture to Savoy, but not as crinkled in appearance.
Nutritional Breakdown of Spinach:
One cup of raw spinach contains:
- 27 calories
- 0.86 grams of protein
- 0.81 grams of iron
- 30 milligrams of calcium
- 167 milligrams of potassium
- 24 milligrams of magnesium
- 2813 IUs of Vitamin A
- 58 micrograms of folate
One cup of cooked spinach contains 839 mg of dietary potassium and 250 mg of calcium. It is also a rich source of Vitamin K, thiamine and phosphorous.
Health Benefits of Spinach:
- Diabetes Management: Alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant in spinach has the tendency to reduce the level of glucose. It increases the insulin sensitivity and prevents oxidative stress induced changes especially in diabetic patients. The alpha-lipoic acid is also helpful in decreasing peripheral neuropathy in patient.
- Prevents Cancer: Chlorophyll content in spinach is powerful in hindering the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines that are being produced while grilling foods at high temperature. Spinach contains several different flavonoid compounds that function as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents. Neoxanthin and violaxanthin are two anti inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls that are found in plenty amount in this vegetable and play important role in regulation for inflammation. According to the research conducted, women who ate raw spinach once a week has a reduced risk of breast cancer. Lutein, a carotenoid in spinach can reduce risk of colon cancer both in men and women.
- Skin Benefits: Spinach contains antioxidants such as carotenoids, vitamin C and vitamin E which slow down the formation of wrinkles and other aging process. This veggie is also major source of glutathione, an antioxidant molecule that helps recycle other antioxidants by donating electrons to other inactive antioxidants.
- Cardiovascular Benefits: Spinach is compacted with folate, a nutrient that has potential to control high level of homocysteine, a risk factor for heart disease. Good source of magnesium, this leafy vegetable has a relaxing effect on arteries, while Vitamin K helps prevent calcium from depositing in the blood vessel walls.
- Potential of Lowering Cholesterol Level: Spinach ranks top on having strongest bile acid binding capacity indicating strong cholesterol lowering potential.
- Promotes Healthy Eye Sight: Accumulation of Lutein and Zeaxanthin nutrients present in spinach promotes healthy vision. The carotenoid pigments are capable of absorbing blue light and can prevent considerable amount of blue light from reaching to the eyes, thus protecting the eye from light induced oxidative damages. These nutrients thus act as anti oxidants and neutralize free radicals further reducing oxidative damage to eyes. The dietary intake of Lutein and Zeaxanthin results in the maintaining the level of these carotenoids in the retina.
- Possess Healing Abilities: Spinach has been proven to heal hypoglycemia, heart disease, osteoporosis and brain function. It is also used as a detoxifier helping to raise blood hematocrit levels due to high iron content.
Spinach Side Effect and Precautions:
As Spinach is rich in oxalates, an anti nutrient that can cause problems in certain people suffering from kidney problems. As it is high in oxalate, but low in calcium, it may lead to the problems associated with calcium deficiency.For those who are taking blood thinners, it is recommended not to start suddenly vegetables containing vitamin K, as it plays major role in blood clotting.