Spinach. Probably reminds you of Pop-eye, huh? Eat your spinach and you’ll have big, popping muscles: that’s the message that’s been pounded into your head, starting as a youngster. At the same time, many people, especially children, don’t like the taste of this dark green vegetable any more than adults would enjoy taking a bite out of a whole yellow onion. Spinach is grown all year round and for many, is palatable in many different dishes. It tastes great tossed in a salad, cooked with other vegetables in a medley-type dish, and adapts wonderfully through steaming and boiling. This nutritionally rich vegetable is certainly a great addition to any diet and is chock full of so many nutrients, it’s actually quite hard to believe this leaf is so wholesome and nutritious.
Spinach is a tiny little vegetable, but has a big nutritional profile. It is basically a nutritional powerhouse, containing an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It has vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, phosphorous, zinc, selenium, and some omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, it has a miniscule amount of calories, no fat, no cholesterol, and no sodium. As you will see, spinach is a very nutritious food!
Vitamin A: Spinach does not have actual vitamin A, but it contains beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. This antioxidant vitamin is essential for the health of the eye, as well as maintaining healthy hair and keeping the membranes of cells intact.
Vitamin C: Another antioxidant vitamin, vitamin C boosts the immune system, promotes iron absorption, promotes wound healing, and helps the body maintain regular collagen levels for healthy connective tissue of the skin, joints, and organs.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and another antioxidant that works to prevent the oxidation of the body’s cells. Vitamin E is also involved in metabolic processes and the regulation of gene expression; this vitamin also helps to thin the blood, which is good for the prevention of blood clots.
Vitamin K: The main role of vitamin K in the body is to help the blood to clot so people don’t bleed nonstop.
B vitamins: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine) are present in spinach. Folate, another B vitamin, is also available from spinach; in fact, spinach is abundant in folate. The B vitamins play a major role in the metabolic processes of the body, among other things.
Magnesium: Magnesium assists in the formation of the bones and teeth; contrary to calcium, magnesium relaxes the muscles; it is also needed for cellular metabolism.
Manganese: Manganese is a participant of many enzyme functions in the body, and spinach contains a large amount of it.
Iron: Spinach is a great source of iron. This component of red blood cells helps transport oxygen to the cells, tissues, and organs in the body.
Calcium: Spinach has quite a bit of calcium, but unfortunately, very little of it is readily absorbed by the body. Calcium is needed for the formation and maintenance of bone.
Potassium: Potassium helps regulate fluid balance in the body; controls muscle contractions; and plays an important role in the proper functioning of the heart.
Copper: Copper is a co-enzyme for the skin and hair. It has a minimal role in brain function, blood formation, and bone strength.
Phosphorous: Phosphorous is an important component—along with calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium—of bone and teeth. It is also needed for sugar metabolism.
Zinc: Zinc is involved in a multitude of cellular metabolism functions.
Selenium: Selenium has antioxidant properties.