Most of us hated spinach and other vegetables during our childhood until we saw Popeye. Only his oversized arms were capable of defeating the formidable Bluto (or Brutus), a bully. The secret to Popeye’s power was a can of spinach. It was undoubtedly a relief for our parents who had a hard time convincing us to eat vegetables such as spinach.
Let us look at five reasons why this winter vegetable is one of the healthiest foods.
Rich in nutrients
Spinach contains iron, zinc, manganese and vitamins such as B1, B2, B6, as also vitamins C, E and K. The carotenoids in spinach are converted to vitamin A in our body. Vitamins help maintain body metabolism and perform numerous other related functions.
High in dietary fibre
Spinach has got a high fibre content which means longer digestion and reduced frequency of hunger. It prevents us from putting on weight as a consequence of excess eating. Fibrous diets also help our digestive system and bowel movement. The fibre that we consume adds weight and volume to the stool and reduces the chances of constipation.
Good for the heart
Spinach is rich in dietary nitrate, which protects our cardiovascular system. The nitrate content in spinach helps lower excess blood pressure. Nitric oxide also helps widen the blood vessels and prevents clogging of arteries, reducing the chances of heart attacks.
Antioxidant effects and anti-cancer
Consumption of high fat-cholesterol diets increases oxidative stress through free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. They damage DNA, which leads to mutations that can cause cancer. Spinach contains natural antioxidants that neutralise free radicals and prevent further damage to our bodies. Spinach also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Various scientific studies have found that the carotenoid pigments Lutein and Zeaxanthin are essential for maintaining our eyes. These pigments support our eyesight, lower the risk of macular degeneration of the retina, and cataract formation. They act as antioxidants which slow down ageing. Spinach is loaded with these pigments.