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Why Is Spinach Good For You?
Popeye had it right when it came to spinach – spinach is a superfood that helps your body perform at its best. A diet rich in vegetables, like spinach, gives your body what it needs to stay healthy. Nutritionists recommend eating four or more servings of vegetables a day. Because spinach is so healthy, it is suggested that you eat spinach at least four times a week.
A leafy green vegetable packed with fiber and other important vitamins and minerals, spinach is low in calories. Whether eaten raw or cooked, one cup of spinach has less than 32 calories.
The dark green spinach leaves are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are good for your eyes and heart. The pigments in spinach also contain flavonoids called luteolin, which are phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties.
Spinach is rich in vitamins E, A and K. Studies suggest that vitamin E protects your body against certain cancers and heart disease. Your body uses vitamin K to help with blood clotting. Vitamin A is used by the cells in your body to promote cell division. The beta-carotene found in spinach is used by your body to create more vitamin A. It is also a powerful antioxidant that defends the body’s cells.
In addition to vitamins, spinach has a lot of folate, potassium, magnesium and iron. These minerals help your cardiovascular system. They also build healthy nerves and muscles.
The health benefits of spinach are:
– Prevent cancer: The antioxidants in spinach have anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent cancer, according to the journal Nutrition and Cancer. Folate also contributes to a lower chance of ovarian cancer.
– Keep your heart healthy: The antioxidant lutein relieves inflammation and plaque build-up in veins and arteries. The folate in spinach lowers homocysteine levels, which in turn are linked to heart disease. If your blood pressure is high, stick to fresh or frozen spinach, as it has less sodium than canned spinach.
– Building healthy bones: Foods rich in vitamin K, like spinach, help prevent weak bones. Vitamin K triggers the formation of osteocalcin, a protein involved in the formation of bones. Calcium and magnesium in spinach also help keep bones strong. Keep in mind that calcium in spinach is absorbed less efficiently than calcium in dairy products.
– Better vision: Retinal, a form of vitamin A, is an important ingredient in the retina of the eye. Your eyes need vitamin A to function at their best. Lutein, vitamin E and beta-carotene also help prevent vision loss in senior citizens.
– To keep mentally focused: Studies show that diets high in spinach help maximize mental powers as you age. The folate in spinach is also essential for cognitive function. Folic acid supplements, it should be noted, have little or no effect in this area, so you should stick to natural sources like spinach.
– Increase Energy: Iron and folate in spinach help prevent anemia. This is often important for women with heavy periods.
– Fight infections: Vitamin E helps improve the immune system. The vitamin A in spinach makes white blood cells that destroy bacteria and viruses.
Almost all supermarkets have fresh spinach all year round. Spinach usually costs less than other vegetables. It can replace lettuce on salads and sandwiches, making them healthier. Remember that fresh spinach must be dark green and not wilted.
Beware of canned spinach as it is usually high in sodium. Check the labels on frozen spinach to see how much sodium is contained.
Store unwashed spinach in the refrigerator until ready to use. Avoid washing the leaves before storage as this will cause them to deteriorate. Before serving, rinse the leaves thoroughly in cold water to get rid of dirt and insects.
A delicious and healthy way to enjoy spinach is to make a fresh spinach salad with a small amount of olive oil. The olive oil will speed up the body’s absorption of lutein and vitamin A. Spinach can also be added to pasta sauce or even put on pizza. For great mashed potatoes, try adding spinach, parmesan cheese and garlic. You can also add spinach to omelets and quiche.
All in all, spinach is extremely healthy and makes a great side dish.
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