There are numerous spinach health benefits you can gain from eating this leafy green vegetable. It turns out that the old Popeye cartoon had some basis in fact. Eating spinach can give you energy, strengthen your heart and help you prevent some types of cancer.
Research has proven spinach to be such a strong cancer fighter that scientists have created spinach extracts to further test these properties. When tested, these extracts have reduced skin cancers in lab animals. Studies have also shown that spinach extract can slow down the development of some cancer cells.
A carotenoid is the substance in fruits and vegetables that produces vitamin A in people. There is a carotenoid in spinach that fights prostate cancer in two ways. It makes prostate cancer cells kill themselves. Then when it is converted in the intestines, it also prevents the cancer cells from further replicating.
Spinach contains a flavonoid or plant pigment called kaempferol. One study found that women who ate spinach and other kaempferol rich foods had a 40 percent lower chance of developing ovarian cancer than the women who ate less kaempferol-rich food.
The combination of vitamin A as source of beta-carotene and vitamin C makes spinach a great partner in fighting heart disease. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights the buildup of artery clogging plaque. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that also prevents plaque. Vitamin C is eliminated through urine and must often be supplied to the body. Beta-carotene is stored in your body so it does not need to be consumed as often. Just one cup of cooked spinach provides the recommended daily amount of vitamin A. That same cup of spinach gives you almost 30 percent of the Vitamin C you need each day.
The results of a Chicago health study show that eating three servings of green leafy vegetables a day can slow mental decline by 40 percent. This means that eating spinach makes your brain almost five years younger.
This study also found that the benefits did not extend to the consumption of fruit. Researchers believe that's because vegetables have lots of vitamin E, which helps cognitive ability. Fruit has little vitamin E. In addition, when vegetables are eaten in salads they are consumed with some fat, which helps the body utilize the vitamins better.
One cup of fresh spinach leaves provides almost 200 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K, which prevents the formation of the cells that break down bone. Vitamin K2 is also created with spinach consumption. Healthy intestinal bacteria allow osteocalcin to form from vitamin K2. Osteocalcin is the protein in bone that keeps calcium molecules inside the bone.
Spinach is a powerful addition to your healthy lifestyle arsenal. It packs a nutritious punch in few calories and provides a multitude of vitamins to help you fight the effects of aging and disease.