All about spinach – Rumors and Truths surrounding the green vegetable & benefits
We all know that spinach is Popeye’s favorite meal. Dark green vegetables are undoubtedly one of the healthiest foods available and a regional superfood par excellence. Here, I want to let you know all about spinach, as there are also some myths surrounding the leafy greens.
Does it really contain that much iron? Is it actually serving to build muscle? And does it truly make you strong? Let’s find out below.
In this post, you will find a myth check and the health effects (there really are some).
Ingredients per 100 g serving1:
Proteins: 1.5 g
Carbohydrates: 1.7 g
of which fiber: 0.8 g
of which sugar: 0.1 g
Fats: 0.1 g
Vitamins and minerals in spinach
Nutrients per 100 g serving1:
430 µg vitamin K1 (596% of the daily recommendation)
4,400 IU Vitamin A (88% of the daily recommendation)
191 µg folic acid (50% of the daily recommendation)
28 mg vitamin C (48% of the daily recommendation)
1 mg manganese (40% of the daily recommendation)
80 mg magnesium (20% of the daily recommendation) (see Magnesium-rich foods)
2.5 mg iron (18% of the daily recommendation)
66 mg omega-3 fatty acids (see The importance of omega 3 & caution with omega 6!)
As you can see, spinach contains a lot of nutrients. Here you will find an overview of the most important nutrients and their duties.
1- Spinach contains vitamin A mainly in the form of carotenoids (ß-carotene). As pro-vitamin A, ß-carotene usually still gets converted into active vitamin A.
2- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and strengthens the immune system.
3- Vitamin K1 is important for controlling blood coagulation factors, but somewhat different from its animal-derived relative: vitamin K2, which is very hard to come by (see article in the link below)
4- Folic acid supports healthy cell function and a strong immune system.
5- Magnesium is the mineral of energy – it is needed wherever energy flows in the body.
Spinach also contains many important phytonutrients.
1- Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids and are important for healthy eyes.
2- We already know Kaempferol from broccoli and peppermint. It has strong antioxidant properties and can prevent cancer and various chronic diseases.
3- Quercetin is also an antioxidant and can reduce infections and inflammation in the body.
Spinach is also known for its high nitrate content, which supports healthy heart function.
Myth 1 – How much iron is in spinach?
The myth that spinach contains a lot of iron started in the 1870s. The chemist Erich von Wolf examined the nutritional benefits of spinach. When he measured it, he swapped one decimal place and unintentionally increased the iron value of the spinach tenfold.
Nevertheless, spinach with a net amount of 2.5 mg per 100 g contains a not inconsiderable amount of iron. This is quite decent for vegetables. The problem, however, is that it is only slightly bioavailable.
That means you have to combine the spinach with a better source of vitamin C (e.g. broccoli or citrus) to help your body absorb it. This makes spinach a good source of iron, especially for vegans.
Myth # 2 – Does Spinach Really Help Build Muscle?
Popeye, the sailor – the series is one reason why I ate spinach as a child, despite my aversion to vegetables. But I still didn’t get a forearm like Popeye.
In fact, there are many articles on the web that say that spinach accelerates muscle growth. Reference is made to a study in rats, which I could not find despite research. All in all, there are hardly any solid investigations, which is why the statement initially remains a myth.
Sure, spinach is very nutritious, and nutrients are needed for healthy muscle growth …
By the way, I found from research that spinach consumption increased by 33% in the 1930s after the Popeye Comics appeared – as a fun fact for the next party.
Six convincing health effects of spinach
It is undisputed that green vegetables are healthy foods. Leafy vegetables, in particular, are increasingly regarded as a separate food group because they contain many times more nutrients (especially vitamin K, iron and magnesium) than non-green relatives.
Spinach leaves are particularly popular due to their wide range of uses. So, the health effects of Popeye’s favorite meal are impressive after all:
1 – Spinach fights cancer cells
Spinach contains a number of substances that fight against harmful cells in the body. These include the carotenoids neoxanthin and violaxanthin, which slow down the formation of cancer cells. They also protect cell DNA from damage and suppress the growth of cell mutations.
2 – Nitrates in spinach work against heart diseases
Leaf spinach contains high amounts of nitrates, which have been shown to help relieve blood pressure. This also reduces the risk of heart disease. Beetroot also contains a lot of natural nitrates and, along with spinach, is probably the best food for high blood pressure.
3 – Numerous ingredients for a strong immune system
The ingredients in spinach mentioned strengthen the immune system in different ways. Vitamins A and C support cell defense against viruses and bacteria.
Kaempferol and quercetin also work in the intestine and strengthen the intestinal barrier. The fiber in spinach serves the good intestinal bacteria as an energy supplier.
4 – Spinach is detoxifying
The phytochemicals contained in the spinach can strengthen the liver function. Since the ingredients of spinach have an antibacterial effect in the intestine and tons of antioxidants and chlorophyll, this supports detoxification, and the liver has less to do, so to speak.
5 – Carotenoids for healthy eyes
The carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein are solid building blocks for our eyes. They protect the human eye from damage that can be caused by sunlight. So from now on spinach counts as an invisible pair of sunglasses …
6 – Spinach extract stops cravings
Spinach extract is rich in thylakoids, which are components of chloroplasts. A study in which overweight women took part showed that spinach extract can reduce cravings and improve satiety. By the way, spinach powder is included in Primal Greens-Natural & Organic Superfood Powder * – a mixture of 26 superfoods!
Chlorophyll – super-nutrient of the future?
Spinach contains a comparatively high amount of chlorophyll. This is the green, magnesium-containing dye that makes plants green and enables photosynthesis.
Purely chemically viewed, chlorophyll looks extremely similar to hemoglobin in the human body. Some scientists even claim that the body converts the chlorophyll to hemoglobin. However, there is no (yet) valid evidence.
What we do know, but still didn’t spread around yet properly: Chlorophyll ends up in the blood to a good percentage. What is it doing? Exactly the same as in plants: It absorbs UV and infrared radiation and converts them into electricity.
What does this current do in the blood? It most likely acts as a very strong antioxidant, because this energy, or the electron current, can break down free energy radicals.
This is currently the subject of research and I am curious to see what else they will publish regarding this matter. It’s also why chlorophyll is available as a dietary supplement – some swear by it. I love it, I am fascinated, curious and watch the research longer …
More green vegetables?
If you can’t have enough green vegetables, then we recommend Primal Greens *. In addition to a good portion of spinach extract, it also contains other green superfoods such as chlorella, moringa, milk thistle, spirulina, kelp, maca, Astragula root, barley grass and much more. At home, we have our favorite superfood smoothie, and the powder is part of it.
So spinach does (almost everything) that it promises. Spinach is rightly one of the healthiest green vegetables. The best thing about spinach is its versatility: As a fresh salad, delicious side dish or in a green smoothie, you can integrate spinach leaves into your diet in a variety of ways.
Even if the myths about the iron content and the arms of the popular cartoon character are not entirely correct, spinach leaves offer many other advantages.
Thanks to their valuable ingredients spinach strengthens the immune system, heart, liver, intestine and eyes. In addition, the contained substances help prevent cancer and can help you lose weight.
Let us know about your experience with spinach and how you integrate it into your diet. We are always looking forward to reading from you.
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