Popeye the Sailor, the muscle-flexing cartoon character who sings, 'I'm strong to the finish, cause I eat my spinach,' remains an all-time favourite cartoon character among children. But, how much does consuming spinach contribute to one’s health, for real? And what other advantages does spinach have? How should one make it a part of their diet? Knowing the leafy vegetables in depth would help you include them wisely in your diet. To begin with, there are three types of spinach – savoy, semi-savoy and flat-leafed. Interestingly, each of them has their sub-variants too. In Kerala, we use a handful of varieties like the Malabar Spinach, Space Spinach, Red Carnival, Indian Summer, Savoy Spinach, Bloomsdale, and more. Here are the health benefits of spinach:
Low in calories
Spinach contains essential nutrients for all parts of the body, including hair, skin, and bones. Spinach dishes are highly beneficial for those aiming to lose weight, as the leafy vegetable is low in calories and high in fibre. Studies have demonstrated that spinach, with a low glycemic index (GI), helps stabilise blood glucose levels. Therefore, individuals with diabetes can safely include spinach in their diet.
Additionally, spinach aids in reducing the risk of cancer. The presence of zeaxanthin and carotenoids, which can scavenge free radicals from the body, imparts this quality to spinach. Chlorophyll, a pigment in spinach, promotes the production of enzymes that aid in breaking down food and enhance digestion and gut health. Spinach also contains vitamins such as A, C, and K, and minerals like iron and calcium. One cup of spinach provides 250 mg of calcium. Consuming it along with foods rich in vitamin C can enhance bone and dental health.
Lowers high blood pressure
Spinach is also rich in magnesium, which aids in digestion. One hundred grams of spinach contains 79 mg of magnesium. It can lower blood pressure and contribute to improved cardiac health. The potassium in spinach helps mitigate the effects of sodium in the body, lowering high blood pressure. Spinach is also rich in iron, promoting the effective use of energy. For this reason, doctors recommend including spinach in the diet for those suffering from anaemia. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin found in spinach are beneficial for healthy eyes. They improve eyesight and protect against cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and other eye problems. Additionally, the vitamin A in spinach contributes to maintaining the mucous membrane necessary for normal vision.
Spinach is also beneficial for maintaining physical beauty. It can keep the skin, the body's largest organ, young and healthy. Vitamins A, C, and E contained in it are excellent for the skin. Moreover, spinach is said to help combat pimples by reducing inflammation. The antioxidants in it also aid in reducing the aging of the skin.
Red spinach vs green spinach
One significant difference between red spinach and green spinach is the amount of oxalates they contain. Unlike green spinach, red spinach contains no oxalates. Therefore, individuals with conditions like kidney stones can opt for red spinach instead of green spinach.
Juice made with spinach leaves
For those who do not enjoy eating curry or stir fry made with spinach, making juice from it is an easy alternative. Let us learn how to make it.
1 cup spinach
1 cup water
Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly
Heat a cup of water in a pot
When the water is heated, add spinach to it and boil it well
Set aside to cool after boiling
After cooling, strain it into a bowl
Drink it after adding a squeeze of lemon to it
Add ice cubes if interested