Spinach is for sure a powerful superfood that Popeye made famous. The truth is spinach is full of health benefits and is high in nutrients. It is so easy to add to salads, green smoothies, soups, and stews.
Spinach Superfood Health Benefits
1. Anti-Cancer and Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants
In a three-year 1990’s study, it was discovered that women who ate raw spinach or carrots two times a week, had a lower risk of breast cancer. Another study was done in 2009 that showed the connections between flavonoid intake and ovarian cancer. This study showed that women who consumed the most spinach had a lower risk of ovarian cancer compared to those that ate smaller amounts.
Researchers have identified more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents.
We hear about inflammation often but do we really know what it is? Inflammation is an important immune system function. When it is out of control, it can cause serious damage. Inflammation has been linked to major diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and signs of aging. There’s good news: many foods are naturally anti-inflammatory. Adding Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods to your meals is a very good way to reduce inflammation. Antioxidants found in foods protect your cells from the effects of free radicals and can help reduce an overabundance of inflammation in your body.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
Spinach has high amounts of nitrates which have been shown to help moderate blood pressure levels and decrease heart disease.
In a study with 27 people, it was found that spinach lowered blood pressure.
Potassium is also recommended for people with high blood pressure and it is also rich in potassium.
3. Good for Healthy Hair
Iron deficiency has been noted to cause hair loss, so eating iron-rich foods, such as spinach may help prevent it.
Spinach has large quantities of vitamin A which moderates the production of oil in the skin pores and hair follicles to moisturize the skin and hair. Hair follicles need vitamin A which can activate hair follicle stem cells which means less hair falling out as seen in studies.
“Want healthier-looking hair? Eat more spinach. Spinach is high in vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production to keep hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.” said Megan Ware.
4. Alkalizes the Body
All those minerals in spinach help balance a highly acid diet which most people tend to have. It subjects our bodies to being acidic which drains our energy, increases obesity, and a host of other health problems.
5. Strengthens Bones
One cup of fresh spinach (or 1/6 cup of cooked spinach) contains two times the daily vitamin K needs, an incredible 987% of your daily vitamin K needs, and 39% of magnesium needs.
A higher risk of bone fracture has been associated with low intakes of vitamin K.
Due to its vitamin K and magnesium content, The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends eating spinach to maintain healthy bones.
It is important to have adequate vitamin K as it acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves your calcium absorption, and may reduce the amount of calcium that is removed from the body in urine.
6. Helpful for Managing Diabetes
Neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that diabetics get, has shown a decrease in a study with alpha-lipoic acid on diabetics.
“Spinach contains a powerful antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity and decrease peripheral neuropathy [weakness or numbness in the hands or feet] in patients with diabetes,” according to Megan Ware, registered dietitian nutritionist based in Orlando, Florida.
7. Iron Deficiency from Anemia is Decreased
When you are iron deficient, your blood isn’t producing enough blood protein, which gives blood cells their red color and transports oxygen to the body’s organs. A major risk group is women, who tend to be iron deficient. One cup of cooked spinach can give you 36% of your daily iron needs. So, it is important to eat iron-rich foods especially if you are at risk of anemia.
The National Organization of Women’s Health recommends eating spinach as part of an anemia prevention or treatment program.
8. Helpful for Asthma Prevention
Risks for developing asthma are lower in people who have a high intake of certain nutrients, as shown in a study of 433 children with asthma between the ages of 6 and 18 years, and 537 children without.
Beta-carotene is one of these nutrients and spinach is an excellent source of beta-carotene.
“The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients, one of this being beta-carotene,” ~ Megan Ware.
Beta-carotene may also help asthma sufferers reduce their symptoms. The Annals of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology found that people with exercise-induced asthma did not develop symptoms during a seven-minute intense exercise session after consuming 64 mg of beta-carotene for one week, in one study.
“Many people automatically think of orange fruits and vegetables when thinking of beta-carotene, but spinach is also an excellent source,” ~ Megan Ware
It has been found to be an effective emergency treatment for asthma attacks when done by intravenous. Oral or vaporized magnesium’s effectiveness is unclear as seen in a literature review of studies involving magnesium and asthma.
9. Good for Protecting Eyes
Spinach has a high quantity of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which helps the eyes protect against eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
“Epidemiologic studies have shown that patients who ate three servings of spinach per week have a 43% lower risk of developing macular degeneration.” ~ The Scripps Research Institute
Please Note: Too much vitamin K can cause problems for anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs. Consult your doctor before adding to your diet if you are on this type of medication.
Spinach and Oxalates: It contains oxalates that interfere with the absorption of calcium. There is much controversy about this.
Loaded with vitamins like A, K, D, and E and a host of trace minerals.
- Good source omega 3 fatty acid – the kind most of us need in North America.
- One cup of cooked spinach can give you 36% of your daily iron needs.
- One cup of fresh spinach (or 1/6 cup of cooked spinach) contains two times daily vitamin K needs.
- This green vegetable is low in calories.
- It has a high quantity of carotenoids.
- One cup of fresh spinach provides 39% of the body’s magnesium needs.
To learn what 1 cup of raw spinach contains go to Spinach Nutrients.
Spinach Stays Fresh!
Studies have shown that those plastic tubs of spinach being exposed to artificial light in the grocery store are actually helping to keep it from spoiling. This indicates the spinach is still metabolically active and fresh.
Grow Your Own Spinach
Sow Right Seeds – Viroflay Spinach Seed for Planting – Non-GMO Heirloom Packet with Instructions to Plant a Home Vegetable Garden – Makes a Great Gardening Gift too.
- Spinach has been cultivated and regarded as native to the Middle East for over a thousand years.
- According to Arizona State University, spinach superfood is believed to have come from Persia.
- The migration of spinach to several Asian countries is believed to be a result of trading between the Middle East and Asia.
- By the seventh century, it arrived in China.
- In the mid-13th century, it reached Europe according to The Agricultural Marketing Research Center. It arrived in Europe through Spain via the Moors which resulted in it being referred to as a “Spanish vegetable”.
- The word “Florentine” to describe a dish with spinach has been traced back to Catherine de Medici, France’s Henry II’s Italian wife, according to BBC Good Food. She was a spinach lover who brought her cooks from Florence to prepare her preferred style of cooked spinach.
“People have been eating leafy greens since prehistoric times. But it wasn’t until the first Africans arrived in North America in the early 1600s that America got its first real tastes of dark green leafy vegetables, which they grew for themselves and their families. So, over the years, cooked greens developed into a traditional African American food. Ultimately, they became essential in Southern regional diets and are now enjoyed nationwide.” – U.S. Department of Agriculture
To this day there are very few places where spinach is not found.
- In China, it is still widely known as “the Persian Green” because of its origin.
- National Spinach Day is March 26th.
- Spinach consumption increased 33% in the 1930s; U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye for the boost which saved the industry during the depression era, according to Comics Kingdom.
- A statue of Popeye was erected in 1937 in the spinach growing town of Crystal City, Texas honoring him for the positive influence on the eating habits of Americans. Popeye is the first cartoon character sculpture.
Watch Popeye with Robin Williams, Robert Altman for Nutritious Laughs. (DVD, Prime Video or Blu-Ray from Amazon)
- Along with Swiss chard and beets, spinach belongs to the goosefoot family.
- In 1949, the first company to advertise frozen spinach was ‘Birds Eye’ which placed an ad in “Life” magazine.
- In 2014, the average adult in the United States consumed 1.7 pounds of spinach.
- It was selected as people’s favorite vegetable according to Bon Appetit magazine’s annual survey in March 2005. 56% of respondents chose it as their favorite vegetable.
- It was used as an ink or paint by Medieval artists who extracted green pigment from it.
- China is still the lead producer of commercially grown spinach. The Top 10 countries for spinach production also include Turkey, Japan, and the United States.
How to Select
Always buy organic spinach. When it is commercially grown it is full of lots of chemical pesticides which makes it one of the top Dirty Dozen foods. Canned spinach is most likely not organic unless labeled accordingly. It is so accessible fresh that I can’t imagine anyone eating canned spinach anyway but since I mentioned Popeye I thought I had better mention that.
Best to select leaves that are deeply coloured fresh green leaves. Studies have shown that the greenest spinach has the most vitamin C.
Organic pre-washed spinach is now readily available in most grocery stores.
How to Store
You can now find organic pre-washed spinach in tubs in most grocery stores which you can just pop into your fridge, there is an expiry date on the box in most cases.
Tips for Eating Superfood Spinach
Perfect for Green Smoothies and Salads
If you haven’t yet tried a green smoothie yet and think they might taste yucky then try one with the main ingredient as spinach. Spinach is so sweet, we guarantee you will be impressed. To see Diana make her own special brand of green smoothie filled with this superfood click here. Diana’s Green Smoothie
“Eat your spinach in the form of a smoothie or juice — this is the best way to obtain the antioxidant lutein, according to research from Linköping University, Sweden.”
Green smoothies taste better than most people think. Learn how Green Smoothies Are Delicious and Amazingly Healthy
I have lots of green smoothie recipes available on this site and below.
Spinach Superfood Recipes For Your Meals
Simple Nutritious Spinach Salad with Sunflower Seeds – This salad is super nutritious and with only 2 main ingredients, it is a fast salad to make.
Spinach Salad with Oranges and Pecans – This salad is a sneaky way to get that superfood into your diet. Also, all the ingredients are very healthy. It is easy to make and very tasty; everyone I have served it everyone loves it.
Delicious Power Spinach Salad with Avocado and Walnuts -You just have to know how to make a good spinach salad. This one is great. This salad is full of healthy greens that are one of the highest alkaline-forming foods and spinach is full of vitamins A, K, and D.
Green Smoothie with Peanut Butter and Banana Start your day with a green smoothie with peanut butter and notice a difference! This is a very simple smoothie with fresh spinach, banana, peanut butter, and coconut milk. It is full of vitamins, minerals, and even protein!
Strawberry Peach Green Smoothie – This strawberry peach green smoothie recipe is filled with healthy superfoods which means it is full of health benefits. It is super easy to make too.
Orange Spinach Green Smoothie – This is a super easy green smoothie to make with only 2 main ingredients so not much shopping to do. I love a green smoothie for breakfast. Oranges are full of good nutrition (lots of vitamin C), low in calories, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, and is rich in dietary fiber and pectin. Pectin has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol.
Miso Soup with Spinach and Mushrooms – This is fast, tasty, and contains at least three superfoods. We have come to think of Japanese food as being tempura, teriyaki, and sushi but it is miso soup that the Japanese will not want to live without. Originally, miso soup was served as a breakfast food.
Diana’s Green Smoothie With a Difference – Easy way to get your these greens into your day.
Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetarian foods you will always want to have in your pantry or growing on your deck.
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.