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Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is considered one of the nutrient-dense foods on the planet because it's loaded with tons of antioxidants and nutrients. This leafy green vegetable originated in Persia and then it spread across different parts of the world and became a desirable leafy green known for its health-promoting properties.
Spinach belongs to the Amaranthaceae (amaranth) family which also includes quinoa, beets and Swiss chard. There are three main types of spinach: savoy spinach, semi-savoy spinach and flat-leafed spinach.
Spinach is an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals and also rich in important plant compounds like lutein, zeaxanthin, quercetin, nitrates and kaempferol .
Nutritional Value Of Spinach
100 g of spinach contains 91.4 g water, 23 kcal energy and it also contains:
- 2.86 g protein
- 0.39 g fat
- 3.63 g carbohydrate
- 2.2 g fibre
- 0.42 g sugar
- 99 mg calcium
- 2.71 mg iron
- 79 mg magnesium
- 49 mg phosphorus
- 558 mg potassium
- 79 mg sodium
- 0.53 mg zinc
- 0.13 mg copper
- 0.897 mg manganese
- 1 µg selenium
- 28.1 mg vitamin C
- 0.078 mg thiamine
- 0.189 mg riboflavin
- 0.724 mg niacin
- 0.065 mg pantothenic acid
- 0.195 mg vitamin B6
- 194 µg folate
- 19.3 mg choline
- 9377 IU vitamin A
- 2.03 mg vitamin E
- 482.9 µg vitamin K
Health Benefits Of Spinach
1. Improves heart health
Spinach contains a good amount of nitrates, which improves blood circulation, reduces blood pressure and lowers the risk of heart disease . A 2016 study showed that the presence of various vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and bioactive compounds can help improve heart health .
2. Maintains healthy eyes
Spinach is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, the two carotenoids which have been linked to improving eye health. These two carotenoids are present in our eyes, which protects the eyes from the harmful rays coming from the sun . In addition, increasing the intake of lutein and zeaxanthin has been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts .
3. Protects against oxidative stress
Free radicals cause oxidative stress in the body that is responsible for cells, proteins and DNA damage which can contribute to faster ageing and increased risk of diabetes and cancer. Studies have shown that spinach possesses antioxidants that protect you from diseases by fighting oxidative stress  .
4. Lowers blood pressure
The dietary nitrate found in spinach has beneficial effects on your blood pressure levels. Nitrates are a vasodilator which helps widen the blood vessels and improves blood flow, thus lowering blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease  .
5. Prevents anaemia
Iron is required by the body to make haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carry oxygen-rich blood to the lungs and all parts of the body. Spinach is high in iron and studies have shown that consuming adequate iron can prevent iron-deficiency anaemia .
6. Manages diabetes
Spinach is rich in antioxidants, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in diabetic patients.
7. Supports bone health
Vitamin K and calcium are essential nutrients that help in the formation of bones, keep bones healthy and prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. And spinach contains a good amount of vitamin K and calcium and consuming it will help keep your bones strong and healthy .
8. Promotes healthy digestive system
The presence of dietary fibre in spinach helps in keeping the digestive system healthy. Fibre prevents constipation by adding bulk to stool and helps in maintaining proper bowel movements .
9. Boosts immunity
Spinach is a good source of vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that aids in strengthening the immune system and protects against harmful germs that attack the immune system .
10. May manage cancer risk
The anti-tumour activity of spinach has been shown to stop the growth of cancer cells. A 2007 study reported that the presence of various components in spinach had the potent ability to prevent the growth of human cervix carcinoma cells .
11. Decreases asthma risk
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin E. All these nutrients play an important role in improving the functioning of the lungs and prevent asthma-related symptoms .
12. Aids in detoxification
Phytonutrients are natural bioactive compounds found in spinach that can help detoxify the body by removing the harmful toxins out of the body. This lowers inflammation and reduces the risk of diseases.
13. Prevents birth defects
Spinach is high in folate, a B vitamin that helps make DNA and produce red blood cells. Deficiency in folate can lead to health complications, especially in pregnant women. Folate is needed during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects and for the growth and development of the body .
14. Improves brain health
The nutrients and bioactive compounds found abundantly in spinach can help improve your brain health. A study published in the journal Neurology found that consuming one serving of green leafy vegetables including spinach per day may help slow down age-related cognitive decline .
15. Enhances skin and hair health
The presence of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E in spinach has been shown to keep your hair and skin healthy. Vitamin A has anti-ageing effects; it delays the onset of wrinkles and hydrates the skin, thereby changing your skin's appearance. This vitamin also aids in hair growth by activating the hair follicles .
On the other hand, vitamin C aids in collagen synthesis and protects the skin from harmful UV rays. And vitamin E helps nourish your skin and protects the skin from free radical damage .
Side Effects Of Spinach
Although spinach is abundant in vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, it can cause side effects in certain people.
People who are taking blood thinning medications should avoid consuming spinach because of the vitamin K content in it. Vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting and it could interact with blood-thinning medications .
Spinach contains calcium and oxalates. Increasing the consumption of spinach can increase the risk of developing kidney stones . However, cooking spinach can reduce its oxalate content.
Ways To Include Spinach Into Your Diet
- Add spinach to pasta, salads, soups and casseroles.
- Add a handful of spinach in your smoothies.
- Sauté spinach and add a dash of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and have it.
- Add spinach in your sandwich and wraps.
- Add a handful of spinach in your omelette.
Sautéed baby spinach
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 450 g baby spinach
- A pinch of salt and black pepper
- In a pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Add spinach and toss it until the leaves are wilted.
- Cook for two to three minutes and season it with salt and pepper.