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Wednesday, 21 December 2016 16:49

Spinach: Health benefits of spinach

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Spinach is an edible flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae native to central and western Asia. Its leaves are eaten as a vegetable. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, protein and choline.

Benefits

Spinach benefits include improved eyesight, healthy blood pressure, stronger muscles, the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, neurological benefits, bone mineralization, anti-ulcerative and anti-cancerous benefits, skin protection, healthy fetal development, and boosted growth for infants.

1.Diabetes management: spinach contains an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes. Studies on alpha-lipoic acid have also shown decreases in peripheral neuropathy and/or autonomic neuropathy in diabetics.1

2. Cancer prevention: Spinach and other green vegetables contain chlorophyll which has shown to be effective at blocking the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines which are generated when grilling foods at a high temperature.2

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3. Asthma prevention: The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is beta-carotene, of which spinach is an excellent source. Apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, pumpkin and carrots are also rich sources of beta-carotene.3

4.Lowering blood pressure: because of its high potassium content, spinach is recommended to those with high blood pressure to negate the effects of sodium in the body. A low potassium intake may be just as big of a risk factor in developing high blood pressure as a high sodium intake.4

5.Bone health: Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk for bone fracture. Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health, as it acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption and may reduce urinary excretion of calcium.5

6.Promotes regularity: Spinach is high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.

7. Healthy skin and hair: Spinach is high in vitamin A, which is necessary for sebum production to keep hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Spinach and other leafy greens high in vitamin C are imperative for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.

8.Reduced Risk of Cataracts: The lutein and zeaxanthin present in spinach both act as strong antioxidants, thus preventing the eyes from the harsh effects of UV rays that can lead to cataracts. They also reduce the impact of free radicals, which can be a major cause of cataracts and other eye conditions.

Iron-deficiency is a common cause of hair loss, which can be prevented by an adequate intake of iron-rich foods, like spinach.

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