We grew up watching Popeye, the sailor man, eating spinach to get strong and become a hero. This character and its association with spinach have instilled the importance of spinach in our lives [ 1 ].
Although spinach won’t inflate your biceps, it is a superfood full of minerals, vitamins (A, B, E, and K), and antioxidants.
Being one of the most versatile vegetables, some people like to squeeze it as a juice or blend it to enjoy their green smoothies. Others, toss it into their salads or have it as a side due to its low caloric count.
There are multiple ways to enjoy this nutrient-rich vegetable, and it is popular due to its health benefits [ 2 ].
Rich in antioxidants
Along with vitamins and minerals, spinach is also rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are miraculous molecules that eliminate free radicals, which cause aging and develop diseases, from our body. Health experts suggest we must consume antioxidant-rich foods in our diets. Antioxidants protect our body against inflammation and oxidative stress, which are caused by free radicals.
Anatomy of a green smoothie by Freepix.
Interestingly, a study found that 3.5 ounces (100 g) of spinach can provide up to 0.9 mmol of antioxidants! The two antioxidants that are present in spinach are lutein and zeaxanthin [ 3 ]. These antioxidants are known to keep our eyes healthy and protect them from harmful light wavelengths and UV rays [ 4 ].
Spinach is a nutrient-rich vegetable that has tons of benefits for our health. Following is the percentage of type of nutrient present in 3.5 ounces of raw spinach:
- Water: 91%
BENEFITS OF SPINACH
Spinach intake has been shown to improve blood pressure, eye health, oxidative stress, and prevent cancer! It also keeps your skin and hair healthy and helps with digestion [ 5 ].
Does overcooking spinach affect its nutrients?
Although many people like to cook their spinach and create multiple dishes, it has been proved that frying, boiling, or steaming spinach for only 4 minutes can drop the lutein levels by 40 %. Furthermore, boiling spinach for 90 minutes dropped lutein levels by 90 %.
Sadly, our spinach intake is usually consumed in the form of cooked food. Those who are consuming it in cooked forms are missing out on two of the most powerful antioxidants!
Therefore, it is best to enjoy the rich nutrients of spinach in its raw form. Blend it to form a smoothie or slice it to enjoy as a side or salad with your meals [ 6 ].
Buddha bowl spinach salad by Freepix.
Are there any side effects?
This applies only if you eat HUGE amounts of spinach; in general, is very healthy to eat spinach.
Spinach being one of the healthiest vegetables, must be incorporated into our diets. However, it may cause side effects in some individuals:
1) Kidney stones
People who already have kidney stones need to limit their spinach intake because, for those with blood disorders, the excess calcium oxalate can lodge in the kidney in the form of additional kidney stones.
2) Blood clotting
People taking blood-thinning medications must limit eating spinach which can interfere with the drugs [ 7 ]. The high percentage of vitamin K1 in spinach is known to clot blood.
Incorporate raw spinach in your diet to benefit from the antioxidants!
In honor of the ORIGINAL Popeye… here’s a short story: