Spinach or Palak is very famous and well known edible flowering plant all over the world for its amazing benefits. It is a leafy vegetable, belongs to the Amaranthaceae family and locally found in the central and southwestern Asia. It is biennial plant and grows in both summer and winter seasons. Spinach was originated in the ancient Persia which was carried to the India by the Arab traders. During 14th century it was first appeared in the England and France. It has a great history as it (spinach juice prepared wine) was used in the World War I to fulfill the need of French soldiers to get recovery from the hemorrhage.
Benefits of Spinach/Palak
Spinach or Palak is very famous leafy vegetable found everywhere in sufficient amount in both summer and winter season. One can easily feel it’s all the beneficial aspects by using it in his daily routine either in the form of its juice, soup, cooked vegetable or variety of curries. I am pointing here all the pros and cons of the spinach:
Prevents Cancerous Cells Division
- Phytonutrients (flavonoids like methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides and carotenoids like Neoxanthin and violaxanthin) found in the spinach acts as a great anti-inflammatory and anticancer agent. Eating spinach regularly prevents the cell division of stomach cancer cells, skin cancer cells and breast cancer cells.
Reduces Risk of Prostate Cancer
- Spinach also decreases the risk of destructive prostate cancer (means 3rd or 4th stage cancer).
Reduces Risk of Many Health Disorders
- Phytonutrients found in the spinach have antioxidant properties as well. Other antioxidant nutrients found in the spinach are vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, beta-carotene, zinc, selenium and etc involves in reducing the risk of various health problems associated with the oxidative stress such as the atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and etc.
Reduces Risk of Age-Related Eye Disorders
- The carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin are found in plenty amount in the spinach which also acts as an antioxidants and beneficial for major organs like eyes (retina and macula). It reduces the risk of age-related cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye problems.
Promotes Proper Growth and Development of Bones
- Eating spinach is very beneficial for the healthy growth and development of bones in the body because of its vitamin K content which involves in preventing the excessive activation of the osteoclasts (bone breakdown cells).
Stimulates Bone Protein
- On the other hand, friendly bacteria of the intestine exchange the vitamin K1 content into the vitamin K2 which has ability to stimulate the osteocalcin (important bone protein) and attaches the calcium molecules within bone.
Good Source of Bone-Supportive Nutrients
- Spinach is also the richest sources of bone-supportive nutrients such as calcium and magnesium which are very helpful in the bone development.
Contains Low Calorie and High Nutrients
- Spinach is very famous, low in calories, high in vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals and nutrients loaded healthy food. It is a natural source of vitamin A, vitamin K, dietary fiber, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, folate, iron, protein, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, niacin, zinc, copper, vitamin B6 and etc.
Protects from Early Ageing
- Its antioxidants nutrients protect the body from the free radicals and early ageing.
- Spinach is considered as the heart-healthy food which is very true because of its vitamin C and vitamin A which reduces the cholesterol level.
Maintains Blood Pressure
- Its folate content aids a lot to the healthy cardiovascular system whereas the magnesium aids in lowering the high blood pressure.
Maintains Gastrointestinal Health
- Spinach maintains the gastrointestinal health due to its beta-carotene and vitamin C content which protects the colon cells from the bad effect of free radicals (DNA damage and mutations).
- Its anti-inflammatory property provides relief from various inflammations such as osteoporosis, arthritis, migraine, headache and asthma.
Maintains Brain Functioning
- Eating spinach regularly maintains the normal brain functioning as well as slow down the age-related decline in brain function.
Fulfills Iron Requirement
- The most essential mineral known as iron is sufficiently found in the spinach which is very beneficial for the growing children, adolescents and menstruating women as iron is an essential component of the hemoglobin which works as an oxygen carrier to the body cells.
Maintains Blood Sugar Level
- Spinach is the good source of lipoic acid which helps in the regeneration of the antioxidants like vitamins C and E and blood sugar level regulation as well.
Promotes Heart Health
- Spinach contains potassium in plenty amount which promotes the heart health.
Strengthens Body Immunity
- Spinach is a great immunity booster as it has vitamin A which protects and strengthens the body against various infections by enhancing the functioning of lymphocytes (WBC).
- Spinach provides relief from the constipation and guards the stomach mucus lining thus prevent from the ulcers.
Nourishes Brain and Nervous System
- Having spinach regularly in the diet maintains the brain and nervous system functioning.
Prevents from Alzheimer’s Disease
- Spinach also plays a great role in preventing from the Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the neuronal damage in brain.
Prevents from Osteoporosis and Anemia
- Spinach is naturally a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids which helps in preventing the osteoporosis and iron-deficiency anemia.
Promotes Muscle Building and Relieves Muscle Cramps
- The potassium electrolyte availability in the spinach promotes the muscle building and muscle contractions as well as prevents muscle cramps.
Enhances Collagen Production
- Its vitamin C availability provides structural strength to the body as it enhances the production of collagen (protein required by the connective tissue).
Helps in Acid Reflux
- Spinach alkalizes the body because of its minerals content thus helpful in the acid reflux.
Benefits of Spinach for Skin
Moisturizes Skin and Prevents from Skin Problems
- The high vitamin A and C content of the spinach makes the skin, soft and supple by moisturizing the skin, protecting from psoriasis, reducing the keratinization process, removing acne and wrinkles.
Relieves Dry and Itchy Skin
- It provides fast relief from the dry and itchy skin as well as provides the radiant complexion.
Benefits of Spinach for Hair
Maintains Hair Health
- Eating spinach regularly helps in maintaining the health of hair as well as it also stimulates the hair growth.
Rich Source of Minerals and Vitamins
- Spinach has variety of nutrients like minerals and vitamins which are the vital component for the hair growth. Vitamins A and C helps in producing the sebum whereas Vitamin E boosts the scalp circulation.
Prevents from Hair Loss
- Some of the essential minerals like iron and manganese found in the spinach are the vital elements for the healthy hair growth. Iron prevents from the hair loss whereas manganese maintains the healthy hair.
Benefits of Spinach for Weight Loss
Contains Low Calorie and High Level Dietary Fibers
- As spinach contains very low calories, fats and high level of the soluble dietary fibers thus it wonderfully assists in the weight loss.
Benefits of Spinach in Pregnancy
Rich Source of B-Complex Vitamins
- The green leaves of the spinach are the magic to the pregnant women. Its high content of the B-complex vitamins like pyridoxine, folates, riboflavin, iron, thiamin, niacin and etc plays a great role in preventing the neural tube defects in the unborn baby.
Improves Body Resistance
- Its high vitamin C level provides the resistance power against the various infections in the pregnant women.
Reduces Risk of Anemia
- It reduces the chances of anaemia in the pregnant women.
Benefits of Spinach Juice
Improves Blood Cleansing and Blood Building
- Spinach is most famous green leafy vegetable worldwide for its blood cleansing and blood building characteristics. As it has high level of the chlorophyll and iron thus its juice is more helpful in treating the anaemia.
Prevents from Cell Damage and DNA Damage
- Spinach juice contains high amount of manganese which protects from the cell damage and DNA damage.
Assists in Bone Growth
- It also aids in the growth of cartilage and bone by breaking down the carbohydrates and proteins in the body.
- Spinach juice contains all the nutrients required by the body for the healthy growth and development.
Benefits of Spinach Salad
- Spinach can also be eaten in the form of salad to get more nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The leaves of the spinach can be added in the salad with other vegetables or fruits. It is good to add some spinach leaves in the salad on daily basis to get necessary elements for the normal body functioning.
Benefits of Spinach Soup
- Spinach soup is a low calories and fatless diet made by adding some water and other vegetables. Spinach soup is better to have in between the meals when felling hunger instead of eating some snacks which may lead to the weight gain and other problems. Spinach soup aids a lot in managing and losing the weight. It contains high level of iron and all the vital minerals and nutrients required by the body to regulate the cell growth.
Nutritional Benefits of Spinach/Palak per 100 g
(Source: USDA Nutrient Database)
Energy: 23 Kcal
Carbohydrates: 3.63 g
Sugars: 0.4 g
Protein: 2.86 g
Fat: 0.39 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
Water: 91.4 g
Thiamin: 0.078 mg
Riboflavin: 0.189 mg
Niacin: 0.724 mg
Pantothenic acid: 0.065 mg
Pyridoxine: 0.195 mg
Folates: 194 µg
Vitamin A: 9377 IU
Vitamin C: 28.1 mg
Vitamin E: 2.03 mg
Vitamin K: 482.9 µg
Sodium: 79 mg
Potassium: 558 mg
Calcium: 99 mg
Copper: 0.130 mg
Iron: 2.71 mg
Magnesium: 79 mg
Phosphorus: 49 mg
Manganese: 0.897 mg
Zinc: 0.53 mg
Beta-carotene: 5626 µg
Lutein and zeaxanthin: 12198 µg
How to Select and Store Spinach
Always buy the spinach having vibrant and dark green leaves including stems without yellowish sign. The leaves of the spinach should be fresh and tender without any spots or bruised cut. If you need to store the spinach, avoid washing it as it may lead spoilage.
It can be stored in the freeze up to 5 days by placing it in the plastic bag with air tight technique. It should be washed two to three times properly under the tap water to wash out all the collected sand and soil on the leaves and stem.
How to Enjoy Spinach
Spinach or Palak can be eaten by simply making a Bhujua of it. It can also be used in the salad to enhance the nutrient contents of the salad. Palak puri is also a famous and healthy dish to eat. It can be used the variety of curries like Palak-egg curry, Palak-paneer curry, Palak soup, Palak juice, Palak-Brinjal cooked vegetable, Palak Saag and bajare ki roti and etc.
Real Facts about Spinach/Palak
- Spinach grown under the direct sun light has more nutrients than those grown under the darkness.
- Cooked spinach has three times more health benefits than the raw spinach.
- Its oxalic acid content lessens the absorption of calcium and iron in the body thus it is good to eat spinach with other food rich in vitamin C.
- Boiling process of the spinach leaves for 2 mins also reduces the oxalic acid level.
- Freezing of the spinach leaves lessens the health benefits of spinach.
- Buy organic spinach as it is free from all the pesticides.
Disadvantages and Side Effects of Spinach
As spinach has lots of the health benefits, it also has various disadvantages and side effects when eaten without precautions. Some of the disadvantages are listed below:
- Spinach may have some pesticide residues which may lead to the health hazards. So, avoid the pesticide’s health side effects, always buy organically grown spinach not the inorganic spinach.
- Spinach contains oxalates which have ability to get crystallize and cause variety of health problems. Spinach should be avoided eating by those individuals having untreated kidney and gallbladder stone or problems. Oxalates may interfere with the absorption of iron as well as absorption of calcium from the body.
- Spinach also contains purines which can cause various health problems. Purines broken down into the uric acid and cause the excess gathering of the uric acid in the joints which may lead to the gout (reddish and painful joints) as well as kidney stones formation. So, eating spinach (or other purine containing foods) should be avoided by the individuals suffering from the kidney problems or gout.
- Spinach may cause allergy to some people.
- Spinach may interfere with the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and cause thyroxin hormone deficiency as it has the goitrogenic compounds.
How Much Spinach Should You Eat A Day
Actually spinach has no any side effects for the normal person however it should be limited by the person having some health problems. Spinach is naturally fatless, sugarless and free of cholesterol diet which can be eaten a full cup on daily basis as it has only 7 calories. It is necessary to get the daily requirement of the body for vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which can be easily got by eating spinach whether it is cooked or raw.
However eating spinach on daily basis should be limited by the people who are on the anticoagulant medication or having problem of the kidney or gallbladder stone. They should consult their doctor about eating the spinach.
Find the Benefits of other Similar Vegetables