Why Popeye Loves the Spinach (and Why You should, Too)

Take it from Popeye. (photo from http://kamekroten.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/turtle-fact-2)
Take it from Popeye. (photo from http://kamekroten.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/turtle-fact-2)

Remember Popeye when we were kids?

The reed thin guy who squeezes spinach from a can, gobbles them up and suddenly grows muscles which makes him strong and healthy. He may have been exaggerating for a bit, but a recent study have proven that you could indeed have muscles such as Popeye’s (but not as fast, though.) The study found out that a bowl of spinach every day increases muscle efficiency. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found participants who consumed 300 grams of spinach a day reduced the amount of oxygen required to power their muscles while exercising by five per cent. The effect was noticeable after just three days of spinach consumption.

Spinach, (Spinacia oleracea) an herbaceous edible plant native to central and south-western Asia, but also cultivated worldwide, may appear dull and boring but these greens are packed with nutrients and health benefits. Here’s what you can get out of these dark leafy vegetables:

Spinach keeps you healthy without packing on the pounds. When you eat spinach, you don’t need to worry about gaining so much weight. It’s low in calories yet very high in vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients. This leafy green is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6. It’s a very good source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc, dietary fiber, and copper. Plus, it’s a good source of selenium, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Spinach is good for the heart. It has ample amounts of vitamins C, A and beta-carotene which are antioxidants that help reduce free radical amounts in the body. The antioxidants work to keep cholesterol from oxidizing, which protects the heart and the arteries. In addition, folate is good for a healthy cardiovascular system, as well as magnesium, a mineral that helps to lower high blood pressure. Just a salad-size portion of spinach will work to lower high blood pressure within hours. A serving of spinach contains 65 percent of your daily requirement of folate, and folate converts harmful, stroke-inducing chemicals into harmless compounds.

Spinach improves blood pressure. The potassium in spinach can help to reduce your blood pressure. Potassium helps in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and it counteracts the effects of sodium on your blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends you aim for 4,700 mg of potassium from natural foods per day to improve heart health. A 1-cup serving of cooked spinach contains 839 mg of potassium.

Spinach can prevent conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, migraine headaches, and asthma as it have anti-inflammatory properties .

Spinach can  protect against eye diseases.  Lutein, a carotenoid, protects against eye diseases such as age-related cataracts and macular degeneration. In the body, lutein gathers in the retina and lens of our eyes, and also protect the retina from free radical damage. People with higher intakes of lutein in their diet develop fewer cataracts, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. A 1-cup serving of raw spinach contains 3,659 mcg of lutein though daily recommendations for lutein have not been established.

Spinach can protect against anemia as it is an excellent source of iron. As compared to other rich  sources of iron like red meat, spinach provides a lot less calories and is fat and cholesterol free, which is particularly important for menstruating women and growing children

Spinach can combat cancers such as  ovarian, prostate and the skin’s. The Journal of Nutrition reports that spinach contains a carotenoid that makes prostate cancers destroy themselves.This same carotenoid, after being changed by the intestines, prevents prostrate cancer from reproducing itself. Spinach also contains kaempferol, a strong antioxidant that prevents the formation of cancerous cells. Women who have a high intake of this flavonoid show a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, likely because of kaempferol’s ability to reduce cancer cells proliferation. Kaempferol is also found in non-herbal tea, onions, apples, citrus, grapes, red wine, curly kale, St. John’s wort, leeks, broccoli an d blueberries. According to researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, spinach may reduce the risk of skin cancer, particularly among those with a previous history of the disease.

Spinach improves brain function. This dark green leaf will protect your brain function from premature aging and slow old age’s typical negative effects on your metal capabilities. Spinach accomplishes this by preventing the harmful effects of oxidation on your brain. Those who eat a vegetables in quantity, especially those of the leafy green variety, experience a decrease in brain function loss.

Spinach is anti-aging. Spinach is loaded with flavonoids which act as antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals and premature aging.

To retain as many nutrients as possible, spinach is best steamed or lightly cooked in a small amount of water.

There are some, though, with certain medical conditions, who may not benefit from eating spinach, such as:

  • People who have kidney or gallbladder problems may want to be careful about eating this green. Spinach is also associated with an increased risk of kidney stones, but only in people who are predisposed to the condition. Spinach contains a lot of oxalate, a chemical that combines with the calcium found in urine to form a kidney stone.
  • Spinach is high in fibre, but too much of it can cause digestive problems such as bloating, gas and cramping.
  • Spinach can be high in pesticides, so it’s important to eat organic spinach if you can.
  • Gout-prone people may be affected by the purine-content of spinach.
  • Some people are allergic to spinach.


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