Spinach is a really beneficial food, full of nutritional value and low calories. Greens like spinach are great for your hair, skin, and bones, and they also provide a lot of vitamins. You will read about all the spinach health benefits and side effects below.
The phenomenon of spinach leaves
As scientific research has shown, spinach plant can be really good for a person’s health. The health benefits of spinach include the improvement of glucose in the blood for diabetic people, reduction of cancer risks and lowering the blood pressure, improvement of bone health, lowering asthma development risks, and others.
Spinach has been used for ages and adapted to different cultures, there are records about the Mediterranean, South East Asian, and Middle-Eastern cuisines included this plant in their meals. It is possible to incorporate spinach in almost every diet because it is cheap and also easy in preparation.
- The first cooking book in English mentioning spinach was called “Forme of Cury”, and published in 1390.
- The United States Department of Agriculture has counted that 100 grams of spinach has 34% of vitamin C daily recommendation.
- Spinach is divided into a few different categories: flat spinach, savoy spinach, and semi-savoy spinach.
- People add spinach to many dishes, as well as prepare it or serve it raw. There is no set way of cooking spinach.
Benefits of spinach: what are they?
Here are the benefits of spinach you should know about. If you are not keen on eating this food, maybe you will change your mind after seeing how nutritional and beneficial it is.
- Management of diabetes. Spinach has a special antioxidant in its composition, which is called alpha-lipoic acid. This substance helps to lower the levels of glucose, increase the sensitivity of insulin, as well as prevent the oxidative changes induced by stress in the diabetic patients.
- Prevention of cancer. Spinach, like many other green vegetables, contains chlorophyll. This substance is effective in blocking the carcinogenic effects of the heterocyclic amines, which can be generated by grilling food on high temperature.
- Prevention of asthma. The asthma risks usually are much lower in those who consume a big amount of some certain nutrients. One of the anti-asthma nutrients is called beta-carotene, and spinach contains a lot of it. The other sources where you can find beta-carotene are broccoli, apricots, pumpkins, carrots, and cantaloupes.
- Lowering of blood pressure. Spinach contains a high amount of potassium, which is good for people who struggle with high blood pressure. It can help with reduction of sodium effects in human’s body. The low level of potassium might be a large factor of risk for high blood pressure development, just like high intake of sodium. By the way, for increasing potassium in your body, you can also eat bananas, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, lima beans, oranges, and avocados.
- Health of bones. The low intakes of vitamin K are connected with the high risk of bone fracture. This means you have to consume this vitamin in reasonable amounts to keep your bones healthy. Vitamin K bears a huge importance for health, as it modifies the proteins of bone matrix, influences the improvement of calcium absorption, and reduces the urinary excretion of the calcium.
- Promotion of regularity. Since the spinach is quite high in both water and fiber, they help people to prevent constipation and improve the digestive system.
- Healthy hair and skin. Spinach contains a large amount of vitamin A, and this vitamin is vital for the production of sebum to keep the hair moisturized. It is also needed for the growth of bodily tissues, especially hair and skin. The leafy greens like spinach are also rich in vitamin C, which is important for producing collagen, which is responsible for providing the hair and skin with structure. Besides, one of the most common reasons for hair loss is the iron deficiency, and this might be prevented if you consume a good amount of foods which are rich in iron. Spinach is one of such foods.
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Nutritional value of spinach
Spinach is a really nutritional food. If we count the nutrition in one cup of raw spinach, we will find 0.86 g of protein, 0.81 g of iron, 24 mg of magnesium, 30 mg of calcium, 167 mg of potassium, 58 micrograms of folate, 2.813 micrograms of vitamin A, and 27 calories. It also contains fiber, vitamin K, thiamine, and phosphorus. The biggest amount of calories comes from the carbohydrates and protein that spinach contains.
Spinach can be used in many different ways. There are some tips that you can use for incorporating the bigger amount of spinach into your diet. You can use it in soups, pasta, and casseroles. You might like to add some spinach to your sandwich, flatbread or wrap. Some people make dips with spinach or add it to scramble or omelet. There are also well-known spinach soup and smoothie recipes, which you can use whenever you feel like it.
Side effects of spinach
Even though spinach is a healthy and nutritional food, it also contains some major drawbacks that you should definitely be aware of. Some of the side effects of spinach are:
- Poor mineral absorption. If you consume too much spinach, the food can interfere with the capacity of mineral absorption of our body. Spinach contains oxalic acid, which sometimes conflicts with magnesium, calcium, and zinc, the essential minerals. As a result, it can affect the functionality of your system.
- Stomach issues. Since spinach is a huge source of fiber, after you eat one cup of cooked spinach you will consume 6 gm of it. It was already mentioned that consumption of spinach is good for the digestive tract. However, our body needs some time to get used to it, and that is why spinach can cause a large number of stomach disorders, like cramps, constipation, gas formation in the abdomen, bloating etc. In order to avoid these problems, you should incorporate this food into your diet slowly.
- Diarrhea. Sometimes, if you eat excessive amount of spinach, a lot of fiber could cause you diarrhea. It can be mild or moderate. Usually, this happens when people take excessive amount of fiber, so you should avoid eating too much spinach or consuming it together with the other foods that are rich in fiber. Always do research before consumption of such foods, otherwise, you risk getting diarrhea along with fever and pain in your abdomen.
- Anemia. This is one of spinach's side effects. Sometimes spinach can make it hard for you to absorb iron from the foods that are ingested. It is heavily loaded with iron itself, and sometimes your body is unable to absorb it easily. The consumption of spinach can sometimes lead to the iron deficiency, in case you are not careful enough.
- Kidney stones. Since the spinach is a container for a lot of purines – the organic compounds that are converted into uric acid when they are ingested in your body. This is not the best thing for your health because the presence of too much uric acid can increase the level of calcium precipitation in the kidney. Consequently, the small to medium kidney stones can be developed. Also, the oxalic acid contained in spinach can be responsible for this, because it gets in a combination with calcium and results into calcium oxalate precipitation.
- Gout. The spinach being high in purines causes the metabolism of these in our body, which later increases the uric acid amount. If you have always been prone to illnesses like gouty arthritis, you should probably stop consuming spinach too intensively, otherwise, you risk developing inflammation, swelling, and joint pain.
- Coarseness of teeth. This side effect is quite common after consuming the excess amounts of spinach. The oxalic acid, which is, as we already know, present in the spinach leaves, can form the little crystals, which are unable to dissolve in the water. So, after you have spinach for food, you might realize that your teeth are gritty or coarse. Nevertheless, this side effect is temporary, and regular teeth brushing will help you with it.
- Allergies. Even though it happens rarely, sometimes spinach can be the cause of allergic reactions. This is because the vegetable is a container of histamine, which can be the reason for some pseudo-allergic effects. One of the most common allergies to spinach is immunoglobulin E.
- Anticoagulation changes. If you are taking the anticoagulant warfarin, you should probably stop consuming spinach for a while. The reason for this is vitamin K, which is contained in the spinach. It will step into a reaction with the medicine and affect some coagulation factors.
You have learned about the benefits and side effects of spinach. Generally, to make the use of spinach safe, you should follow a balanced and healthy diet, and be careful about what you eat.