Spinach, a leafy green vegetable, has been recognized as a superfood for quite a while.
Merriam-Webster defines a superfood as “a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.” Spinach’s designation as a superfood can be attributed to the fact that it contains so many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
The scientific name for spinach is Spinacia oleracea. Currently, the United States and China are the largest producers of spinach.
Having originated in Persia thousands of years ago, spinach is popular around the world because of its durability as a plant and versatility as a food. It can last through different seasons and it can be packaged fresh, frozen, or canned.
Although there is virtually no end to the list of benefits of eating spinach, the following are eight of the most commonly cited health benefits:
1. Improved digestion
2. Cancer prevention
3. Blood pressure regulation
4. Asthma prevention
5. Diabetes prevention
6. Bone health
7. Eye health
8. Healthy skin and hair
Spinach: Basic Nutrition Information
• Composed of 91 percent water, spinach is a low-calorie food, containing just seven calories per cup.
• Spinach contains no fat and is a low sodium food.
• Spinach is low in carbohydrates, but high in insoluble fiber, which aids with digestion.
• Spinach has vitamin A for healthy hair.
• The vitamin C in spinach promotes a healthy immune system and skin health by boosting collagen production.
• Vitamin K is important for blood health, especially clotting.
• Spinach contains calcium primarily for bone health, among other functions.
• Iron helps to prevent anemia by creating hemoglobin.
• The folic acid in spinach benefits cell functioning and tissue growth. It’s also important for pregnant women and infants.
• Spinach contains small traces of vitamins B6, B9, E, magnesium, and potassium.
• Lutein and zeaxanthin contribute to eye health. They can improve eyesight and prevent macular degeneration.
• Other plant compounds and antioxidants in spinach can prevent certain types of cancer cell growth.
• Many of the above compounds factor into anti-aging efforts.
• A healthy diet containing spinach can contribute to weight loss.
Incorporating Spinach Into a Healthy Diet
Spinach is safe to eat every day, even several times per week if possible. The minimum recommended amount is one cup of spinach leaves per day. Spinach is not just for salad. You can consume it raw, steamed, sauteed, or mixed into baked dishes and soups.
Substitute spinach for meat to make vegetarian lasagna. Include it on sandwiches or as part of an egg omelet. Spinach dips (and even spinach chips) are popular healthy snacks.
Get creative with recipes, so you don’t get bored eating so much spinach. Some people prefer eating the smaller “baby” spinach instead of the normally larger leaves. Even if you don’t like the taste or consistency of spinach, blending it with other healthy ingredients into a smoothie will render the spinach undetectable.
Two Potential Health Risks of Eating Too Much Spinach
1. While spinach has few risks, it is possible to consume too much. For example, people with a history or threat of certain types of kidney stones should limit their spinach intake since it contains calcium and oxalates.
2. Doctors also caution against eating spinach while taking any type of blood thinner, since the Vitamin K in spinach that promotes blood clotting could hinder the medication’s effectiveness. There is no limit to the advantages of eating as many “superfoods” as you can. Arguably, spinach tops the list and you should focus on reaping its benefits by including it in your diet on a daily basis.