Benefits Of Spinach For Health: Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor and counsel’s clients one-on-one through her virtual private practice. Cynthia is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics and has consulted for five professional sports teams, including five seasons with the New York Yankees.
She is currently the nutrition consultant for UCLA‘s Executive Health program. Sass is also a three-time New York Times best-selling author and Certified Plant Based Professional Cook. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook, or visit www.CynthiaSass.com.
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, Of all the leafy green vegetables, spinach is one of the most versatile. You can add it to smoothies, enjoy it in a chilled salad, steam and sauté it as a side dish, add it to a stir fry, and even blend it into baked goods, like brownies.
Spinach also has several health benefits. It contains vitamins and antioxidants that protect from chronic diseases and promote brain, cardiovascular, and eye health. And you can easily add spinach to your meals to maximize those perks.
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, Here are 4 health benefits of eating more of this powerfully protective plant and simple ways to incorporate spinach into your meals and snacks.
It’s Full of Nutrients
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, Per the Department of Agriculture, three cups of raw spinach provide approximately 20 calories, less than one gram of fat, two grams of protein, three grams of carbohydrates, and two grams of fiber.
Though it has few calories, spinach is full of nutrients. A three-cup portion provides over 300% of the average daily value for vitamin K. The leafy green vegetable also provides over 160% and 40% of the average daily values for vitamin A and vitamin C, respectively. According to the National Library of Medicine, vitamins K and A support strong bones and vitamin C helps heal wounds.
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, Spinach also contains 45% of the average daily value for folate, a B vitamin that helps form red blood cells and DNA. It also supplies iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and small amounts of other B vitamins.
1. Its High in Antioxidants
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, In addition to its many vitamins and minerals, spinach provides antioxidants that link to anti-inflammation and disease protection.
Some antioxidants in spinach include kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, and isorhamnetin—also known as flavonoids. Per the Department of Agriculture, flavonoids are compounds that may help protect you against cancer, as well as cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.
2. It Helps Protect Against Diseases
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, In a study published in 2016 in the journal Food & Function, researchers summarized the protective effects of spinach. They stated that the compounds found in spinach could reduce oxidative stress.
They also positively influence gene expression—or the “turning on” of certain genes—in metabolism and inflammation. Additionally, those compounds trigger the release of satiety hormones that make you feel full and satisfied after eating spinach.
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, For those reasons, the researchers concluded that eating more spinach may help curb chronic diseases—including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
3. It Supports Brain Health
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, The anti-inflammatory effects of spinach make it a key contender for protecting the brain—specifically in terms of aging.
In a study published in 2015 in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, researchers tracked the eating patterns and cognitive abilities of more than 900 adults aged 58 to 98 years for about five years. They observed a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline among those who consumed larger amounts of leafy green vegetables than others.
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, The data also indicated that people who ate one to two servings of those vegetables daily had the same cognitive abilities as those approximately 7.5 years younger than their actual age.
4. It Helps Manage Blood Pressure
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, Spinach is also a source of nitrates, which are naturally-occurring chemicals. Nitrates open up or dilate blood vessels. That improves blood flow and eases stress on the heart.
In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Nutrition, a group of seven women and 11 men consumed four nitrate-rich drinks, including a spinach beverage. The researchers found that the participants’ blood nitrate levels increased after consuming the drinks.
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, The spinach drink, as well as the beetroot juice and rocket salad drinks, also lowered blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure—the bottom number on a blood pressure reading, indicating the amount of pressure in your arteries between heartbeats—remained low for five hours after consuming the spinach and rocket salad drinks.
5. It May Help Eye Health
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, One of the antioxidants in spinach, lutein, may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Per the National Eye Institute, AMD is an eye disease that can blur the sharp, central vision essential for reading and driving. It’s a leading cause of vision loss for people aged older than 55 years. Prevention is key because there is no cure for AMD.
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, In one study published in 2016 in the journal Nippon Ganka Gakkai Zasshi [Journal of the Japanese Ophthalmological Society], researchers examined the eyes of 11 participants who consumed 75 grams of frozen spinach containing 10 milligrams of lutein daily for two months. The intake of lutein-rich spinach increased the participants’ blood lutein levels and increased measures of macular pigment optical density (MPOD).
Benefits Of Spinach For Health, The macular pigment acts like internal sunglasses to protect the eyes. Low or decreased MPOD is a risk factor for AMD. The research indicated that consuming spinach may help curb AMD risk.