Spinach, for Healthy Eyes

This is going back many years now ... those folks in the same generation as me, might remember Popeye, the Sailorman.

For those who don't know Popeye ... he would eat a can of spinach whenever he needed the extra "pow" strength, just before he gets into a fight.

Spinach is loaded with minerals and vitamins, including calcium and iron. So, maybe Popeye is right afterall ... Spinach might be for improved strength and stamina. It is, however, more famous for eye health.

Spinach comes in 3 different variety of leaves:

  • Savoy - dark, crinkled leaves
  • Flat-leaf (a.k.a. Smooth-leaf) - flatter and smoother leaves
  • Semi-savoy - a combination of the above two (a hybrid of the two)

With the untrained eyes, it is difficult to tell between the Flat-leaf and the Semi-savoy, but the Savoy leaves do stand out as it is much more crinkled that the other two.

Spinach's Main Nutrients

  • Antioxidant:    Vitamin (K,A,C), Carotenoids, Flavonoids
  • Other:               Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, Manganese, Potassium, Vitamin (B), Folate, Phosphorus, Dietary Fiber, Water

Interesting stuff on Lettuce

Native of:

  • Ancient Persia

Now Found\Grown in:

  • Worldwide (with China, biggest producer)

Spinach is known to lose its nutritional value fairly quickly after harvest. To preserve its nutritional value, it is suggested to blanched/cooked and then freeze/can spinach for later use.

Canned spinach? Wow, Popeye, who eats canned spinach, might have been trying to say this all along! But, I was so busy watching him knock out the bad guys, after eating his canned spinach, that the message about nutritional value of canned spinach, just never got through to me ... till now!

While its Vitamin K contents is one of the highest amongst natural foods, the bioavailability (i.e. how much our body can utilize) of calcium in spinach is very low compared to other vegetables/natural foods.

According to some write-ups, it also one of vegetables that uses the most pesticide in the market. So, if you are not consuming organic spinach, do wash your spinach well ... wash with a good organic vege wash.

Examples of Health Benefits of Spinach

  • Eye health

Being rich in carotenoids, especially in lutein and zeaxanthin, and Vitamin A, aids in eye health. Also, spinach contains Omega-3, which aids in delivering lutein and zeazanthin, which are fat-soluble antioxidants, to the eyes.

  • Healthy Red Blood Cells

High contents of iron.

  • Heart Health

Spinach has one of the highest Vitamin K contents, amongst natural foods.

  • Anti-inflammatory

Rich in carotenoids and flavonoids, helps body to reduce inflammation.

  • Boost Immune System

Being loaded with nutrients and high amounts of them, helps boost the immune system, in paritcular Vitamin C, the carotenoids and the vitamins.

  • Bone Health

Even though its calcium bioavailability is very low compared to other natural foods, its high Vitamin K contents helps the body to produce calcium for bone health. Plus it has magnesium, which also supports bone health.

  • Anti-cancer

Being so rich in antioxidants, makes it a natural cancer fighter.

  • Cholesterol regulator

High in fiber, helps in the arena of regulating good cholesterol to bad ratio.

Recent studies have uncovered two (more) nutrients in spinach:

  • Glycoclycerolipids - a type of fat-related molecules found in plants
  • Epoxyxanthophylls - a type of anti-cancer carotenoids

These are still being researched for their potential health benefits.

Some precautions

  • High in oxalate, that can lead to stones formation.
  • High oxalate can also reduce iron absorbancy of its iron content and might cause iron to leach from the body.
  • High in pesticide use in its production. So, conventionally grown spinach needs to wash thoroughly, before consumption.

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