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Monday, July 16, 2012


No matter how many vitamins you take, you still won't receive all the health benefits of spinach. That's because spinach contains more health giving elements than vitamins and minerals, it has other phytonutrients not contained in multiple vitamins. In fact, there are at least 14 different flavonoids contained in the leafy green vegetable that can help the body in a number of ways.

Spinach phytonutrients have shown to be efficient in helping to reduce the rapidity of cell division in stomach cancer and skin cancer when used on lab animals. Our little furry friends aren't the only ones that received help to fight cancer from eating spinach. A study dating back as late as the 1980s showed the consumption of spinach in adult women had an inverse relationship to breast cancer. The more they ate, the less likely they were to have cancer.

Another study using women, 66,940 to be exact, called the Nurses Health study started in 1984 and ended in 2002. The study followed the diets of the women and showed that those who consumed foods rich in kaempferol had a reduced risk of ovarian cancer by a whopping 40 percent. Of course, spinach is on the list of foods containing that flavonoid. If you follow your spinach with a cup of tea, a bowl of broccoli smothered in blueberries and onions, you'd consume enough food with kaempferol to be included in the low risk group. However, your stomach might object a bit.

Women weren't the only ones that benefitted from the flavonoids in spinach. Spinach contains carotenoid also found in other leafy vegetables. "The Journal of Nutrition" contained a study showing that neoxanthin, a carotenoid, is responsible for causing prostate cancer cells to self-destruct. Once it goes into the intestines, it helps converts to a compound called neochromes that stops the cells from replicating.

Most people, however, recognize that spinach is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Popeye not only developed strong muscles from spinach, he also received benefits to his bones. By simply consuming a cup of fresh spinach or 1/5 cup of boiled spinach, you receive almost 200 percent of your daily vitamin K. Vitamin K1 slows the activation of the osteocast cells. These cells break down bones. Once in the colon, K1 and K2 convert to osteocalcin. This substance holds the calcium molecules in the bone. Spinach also contains calcium and magnesium, two other bone-building minerals.

Spinach is high in vitamin C and vitamin A. Both of these nutrients are antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble anti-oxidant that helps the respiratory system and helps prevent cholesterol from building in the blood vessels. Vitamin C is a water-soluble anti-oxidant well known for boosting the immune system and preventing clogged arteries, among other things. That same cup of fresh spinach that supplied you with vitamin K, also gives you half of your daily value of vitamin A and 6 percent of your daily value of vitamin C.

Your body gets more treats from spinach. It's an excellent source of folate and magnesium, both good for the heart. Spinach also contains lutein, a carotenoid that helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies show that it spinach slows age related decline in brain activity and because it's a green leafy vegetable, decreases cognitive decline when you eat three servings each day, about one cup boiled. It's no wonder Popeye extolled the health benefits of spinach, when you see all the nutrients it contains.


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