This article could begin with some joke about Popeye, but that just isn’t happening! Spinach, as it turns out, is serious business – with some seriously good benefits for your health, too!
This unassuming green leaf packs more of a health punch than one would expect, given its modest appearance.
Let’s take a deeper look at this leafy green, and discover how your health can improve just by including it in your meals and juices! I’m sure you’ll be convinced that this plant is worth your time.
After all, who doesn’t want to lower their risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and even cancers?
Interested? Read on!
Juiced, steamed, blended, raw – no matter how you like it, spinach contains some of the best nutrients known to mankind. If there’s a breaking, scientific discovery on a healthy nutrient, chances are that our friend spinach has been keeping it a secret tucked away in that leaf.
Well, let’s take a look at some of the known nutrients, and what they mean for your health!
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Contained in high levels in spinach, this antioxidant is a Godsend for those with diabetes. Studies have shown that this nutrient will lower your glucose (blood sugar) levels, increase your insulin sensitivity, and prevent damage to your body due to stress. This is great news for diabetics, who would greatly benefit from juicing spinach and drinking it in the morning. Alpha-Lipoic Acid has even been shown to decrease peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy (that is, nerve damage) induced by diabetes! But you don’t need to be diabetic to enjoy these benefits – it’s perfect for those at a high risk for developing diabetes, or even those of us who want to prevent the condition from ever developing. Oh, and never let that ‘acid’ word make you anxious. While cartoons and media depict acid as the chemical that melts things, in biochemistry there are thousands of acids known to be in the body, each of them critical to our health (think, ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C – we need that!).
- Chlorophyll: Yep, that’s the stuff that makes plants green! While this nutrient isn’t uncommon, it is important to get it in your diet if you wish to live a disease-free life. Why is that? Well, chlorophyll has been shown to directly reverse the harmful effects of some common carcinogens (cancer causers). Chlorophyll is found at high levels in spinach leaves, relative to other plants. As a last note about this nutrient – just because it’s cool – the little cell organs that contain chlorophyll in a plant cell can be witnessed under a microscope to constantly swim in orbits, for reasons currently unknown to science!
- Vitamin K: If it’s called a vitamin, scientifically that means it is vital to your body. Vitamin K, in particular, is relatively unknown to the general population, and most people don’t get enough in their diet. Just one reason (among hundreds) to get your Vitamin K: it has been shown to increase your calcium absorption, improve bone density, and decrease bone loss. Osteoporosis doesn’t stand a chance against this crucial nutrient.
- Potassium: You’ve probably heard about this mineral in relation to bananas – however, spinach contains nearly two times the potassium. This makes it one of the best veggie sources of potassium you can find. Which is all fine and good – but what does potassium do for us? For one, potassium rich foods lower your blood pressure. It’s said by researchers that a low potassium diet is equally bad for your blood pressure as a high salt intake. Potassium is required for hundreds of metabolic processes in the body, and it is displaced in the cells when you consume too much sodium – the result being water imbalances, muscle spasms and weakness, and eventually problems with blood pressure regulation. In general, people get too much sodium and not enough potassium in their diets – if you’re the type to keep the salt shaker next to your meal, you should certainly consider getting more of this vital mineral. For you athletes out there, potassium is crucial for muscle strength and hydration!
There are hundreds of nutrients more in each little spinach leaf; you could literally write a book on it. Here’s just a part of the list: Vitamin A, Manganese, Folate, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin E.
If you’d like to juice spinach, it’s recommended to be combined with fruit and light-flavored vegetables, as it has a sulfurous taste to it. I personally don’t mind the flavor by itself, though others may want to cover up that aspect with something sweet.
To include it in your meals, try boiling or steaming – if that’s too bland for your tastes, consider adding clarified butter or coconut oil to the mix.
You can also saute it, or throw it into any health smoothie, or even casseroles, pasta dishes and pizzas.
Raw spinach is full of enzymes and is perfect for your salad greens, or even sandwiches!
American Society of Nephrology
National Library of Medicine