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Health Benefits of Spinach

Published 5/16/13

What Is Spinach?

Spinach is an edible green flowering plant that is native to the southwest Asia region. Spinach was originally found in ancient Persia and made its way to China by trade where it was known as the “Persian vegetable.” The most common type of spinach, Spinacia oleracea, is part of the Amaranthaceae family. The three most common types of spinach are Savoy spinach, Flat (smooth-leaf) spinach, and semi-Savoy spinach.

Spinach Nutrition

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse that is full of antioxidants. The nutritional content includes high levels of vitamin A vitamin C, vitamin E vitamin K , magnesium manganese, dietary fiber, iron, copper, potassium, folate, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids (40-milligrams). 180-grams of spinach contains more iron than a 180-gram hamburger patty.

Spinach Benefits

Spinach has many health benefits to offer besides just its high nutritional content. The high nutritional content as a whole helps promote cardiovascular health by preventing the harmful oxidation of cholesterol, which is a major danger to the heart and arteries. One serving of spinach contains roughly 20% of the recommended daily value of dietary fiber, which aids digestion, lowers blood sugar, and prevents overeating. Spinach lowers the risks associated with osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure as a result of its high antioxidant content (vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, manganese, and zinc). Flavonoids, another type of antioxidant found in spinach, helps neutralize cancer-causing free radicals roaming the body. Studies have shown that breast cancer is less common among women who consumed spinach on a regular basis. The high antioxidant content also helps maintain proper vision by protecting the eye from cataracts and macular degeneration. The peptides in spinach restrict the angiotensin I-converting enzyme, which helps lower blood pressure. The high vitamin A content helps protect and strengthen the body’s “entry points,” such as mucous membranes and respiratory tracts, while also making up a large portion of white blood cells that fight infections.  

Spinach Drawbacks

Spinach contains several absorption-inhibiting substances that prevent full absorption of nutritional elements such as iron and calcium. The high level of oxalate found in spinach binds with iron and calcium and renders them essentially unusable. Studies show that only 5% of the calcium found in spinach can be absorbed into the body as a result of the high oxalate content. 

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