We all know that spinach is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. The superfood qualities of this dark leafy green vegetable aren’t just reserved for fictional heroes like Popeye the Sailor Man; we can all enjoy the health benefits of spinach by incorporating it into our diet.
Even if you don’t like salads, there are plenty of ways to eat spinach. Whether steaming it, adding it to sandwiches, pureeing it in smoothies, or blending it for wilting in sauces, spinach is almost as versatile as it is healthy. If you need extra motivation to eat your vegetables, keep reading for a list of spinach’s many benefits.
Spinach (Spinacia oleracealisten)) is a popular dark leafy green vegetable used in many cuisines worldwide. Perhaps due to the fact that spinach originated in Persia, it is especially important in dishes originating in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, India, and Southeast Asia. Interestingly, spinach belongs to the amaranth family, so it’s related to foods like chard, beets, and quinoa.
There are a variety of spinach benefits, which can be categorized into nutritional benefits, health benefits, and practical benefits.
Nutritional Benefits of Spinach
Spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals. Some of the main nutritional benefits of spinach are:
Spinach is low in calories.
A cup of fresh spinach has only 7 calories, making it nutrient-dense but not calorie-dense. Spinach can be eaten in abundance without significantly affecting your caloric intake, so it’s a great food for promoting healthy weight loss and weight management.
Spinach is rich in protein.
Spinach is surprisingly high in protein from a caloric perspective. A cup of spinach contains 0.86 grams of protein and a 100 gram serving contains almost 3 grams.
Spinach is low in natural sugar.
Sugar contains very little sugar (only 0.4 grams per 100 gram serving).
Spinach is high in fiber.
The majority of the carbs in spinach are fiber, which aids digestion, increases satiety, and supports your healthy gut bacteria. There are 2.2 grams of fiber in a 23-calorie (100-gram) serving of spinach.
Spinach contains important vitamins.
Spinach is rich in vitamins A, C and K1. For example, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 100-gram serving of spinach provides more than a third of the daily value of vitamin C, an impressive 2,813 international units ( IU) of vitamin A and more than half your daily intake of vitamin K1. Spinach also contains vitamin E, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6.
Spinach is packed with essential minerals.
Spinach is rich in minerals like iron, calcium, folic acid, magnesium and potassium.
Health benefits of spinach
The excellent nutritional content of spinach gives this superfood many health benefits, such as:
Spinach can lower blood sugar.
One of the benefits of spinach is that it can lower blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity thanks to an antioxidant it contains called alpha-lipoic acid. For people with diabetes or insulin resistance, spinach has been shown to reduce the risk of oxidative damage that normally results from chronic insulin resistance.
Spinach may reduce the risk of cancer.
The green pigment in spinach, called chlorophyll, has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. It also contains compounds called MGDG and SQDG, which can inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.
Spinach can reduce blood pressure.
Spinach is high in potassium and magnesium as well as nitrates, both of which can lower blood pressure. Potassium helps regulate fluid levels and counteract the effects of sodium, while nitrates help dilate blood vessels to reduce vascular resistance and increase blood flow.
Spinach can support healthy digestion.
Spinach is high in dietary fiber as well as prebiotics, the type of fiber that good gut bacteria feed on. Fiber promotes bowel regularity and can help you feel full.
Spinach improves eye health.
Spinach is rich in vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes vision and eye health.
Spinach is good for your hair and skin.
Spinach is rich in vitamins A and C, which promote healthy skin and hair. Vitamin A plays a vital role in regulating the oil glands in your pores and scalp, and diets rich in vitamin A are linked to a lower incidence of acne and inflammatory skin conditions. Vitamin C supports collagen production and cell turnover for glowing skin.
Spinach improves bone health.
Spinach is packed with bone-strengthening nutrients like calcium and vitamin K1.
Spinach reduces inflammation.
Spinach is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, so it acts as an effective anti-inflammatory in the body. Because chronic inflammation can lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers, and obesity, eating a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can reduce your risk of disease.
Practical benefits of spinach
As briefly touched upon, in addition to spinach’s health benefits, it is also easy to use, versatile, relatively inexpensive, and mild in flavor. You can buy it fresh, frozen, or canned, and put it in savory or sweet dishes (yes, even brownies or chocolate protein shakes!).