Spinach Nutrition Facts: A Nutrient Powerhouse

What Spinach Can Do For Your Health

What if there were a food that could help protect you from heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, and loss of memory with aging? Multiple studies reveal that spinach can do this and more. The secret is in all the many nutrients, vitamins, and other compounds in spinach. By knowing spinach nutrition facts, it’s easy to see how important it is to a balanced diet.

Spinach Nutrition Facts

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Vitamin K

Just one cup of fresh spinach provides nearly 200% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin K, which helps prevent activation of bone-destroying osteoclasts. The good bacteria in the intestines convert vitamin K into vitamin K2, which activates the major protein in bone. This protein anchors calcium to the inside of the bone. Other bone-building nutrients in spinach include calcium and magnesium.

Vitamins A and C

The vitamins A and C in spinach are powerful antioxidants that work to reduce free radicals, which can cause cancer. Vitamin A is rich in beta-carotene, and combined with vitamin C, it helps prevent cholesterol from being able to stick to blood vessel walls. When cholesterol sticks to an artery wall, it builds up and blocks blood flow, causing strokes and heart attacks.

Vitamin E

One cup of spinach contains 20% of the RDA of vitamin E. A study in the journal Neurology found that 3 servings of leafy green vegetables could slow the rate of age-related cognitive decline by 40%.

Lutein

Lutein is a carotenoid found in spinach, which protects against eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein combines with carotenoid and zeaxanathin to form macula. Macula is the substance in the retina that lets us see colors and details. Carotenoids are fat soluble and cannot be absorbed without fat. To get the maximum benefit of the lutein in spinach, mix with a chopped hard-boiled egg and drizzle a little olive oil over it.

Iron

Spinach contains almost 40% of the RDA of iron, which the body needs to help hemoglobin transport oxygen throughout the body’s cells. Iron also helps provide energy. Women who are menstruating especially need extra iron supplementation. Although red meat is high in iron, it comes at a price of many calories and a lot of fat.

Flavanoids and Carotenoids

Spinach contains at least 13 flavanoid compounds, which function as antioxidants and anti-cancer agents. Many studies have examined the various compounds in spinach and the effect on certain cancers. Research conducted from 1984-2002 by the Nurses Health Study found that a diet rich in the flavanoids found in spinach lowered the risk of ovarian cancer in the study group by 40%. The carotenoid neoxanathin helps fight prostate cancers two ways. First, it causes prostate cancer cells to self-destruct. Second, it is converted in the intestines to neochrome, which prevents prostate cancer cells from reproducing.

Heart Benefits

Spinach is truly the heart’s friend, with 25% of the RDA of potassium. Potassium lowers blood pressure and is effective at preventing high blood pressure. Folate also helps control blood pressure, and the folate in spinach lowers levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory marker in the blood which can damage blood vessels. Folate also helps blood vessels relax, lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow.

Co-enzyme Q10, of which spinach is one of only two plant sources, is another antioxidant shown to help treat high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and heart failure. The heart is made of muscle, and Co-Q10 is needed for muscle strength.

Serving Ideas

Substitute spinach for all or at least part of the plain lettuce in salads. Iceberg and similar varieties of lettuce contain few to no nutrients. Steamed spinach can be layered into lasagna. Try steaming spinach and mixing with pressed garlic, a little olive oil, lemon juice, and a little Parmesan cheese.

Resources

The World’s Healthiest Foods https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43

The A 2 Z of Health, Beauty, and Fitness https://health.learninginfo.org/spinach.htm

Spinach Words https://www.spinachwords.com/heart_health.shtml