NUTRITION: Spinach packs a healthy wallop

By Bonnie Brost
Spinach has been billed as a superfood since Popeye tore open a can for super-strength in the 1930s. This leafy green vegetable won’t cause an instant transformation like Popeye’s, but it does pack a healthy wallop.
Spinach offers vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and flavonoids. It’s also low in calories and versatile in recipes.
“Popeye the Sailor Man” debuted in 1929 in a comic strip and entered animated cartoons in 1933. A good guy underdog with bulging forearms and a mean uppercut, he had a penchant for canned spinach. Spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33 percent increase in U.S. spinach consumption and saving the spinach industry in the 1930s. One of Popeye’s mottos was: Spinach will make you “strong to the finish.”
This leafy green veggie helps maintain healthy skin, hair and strong bones. It may help lower your risk of heart disease as well as prevent cancer, asthma and macular degeneration.
Spinach is an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, vitamins K, A, B2, B6, E, zinc, manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus and iron. It’s also one of the best plant sources of calcium.
Vitamin A is important for skin and hair health as well as the growth of body tissues. One cup of raw spinach has 60 percent of the vitamin A we need in a day. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin A is a compound in retinoids, which are popular in anti-aging skin treatments.
For bone health, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends eating spinach for its vitamin K and magnesium.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends spinach, which is high in iron, as part of an anemia prevention or treatment program. Heart and vascular health are aided by potassium and vitamin K — both abundant in spinach.
Spinach has been promoted in cancer prevention because it contains cancer-fighting antioxidants, and its dark green color makes it high in chlorophyll, which also has anti-cancer effects.
Asthma sufferers may benefit from the beta-carotene and magnesium that are abundant in spinach. Beta-carotene is often linked to orange-colored vegetables such as carrots, but spinach is also an excellent source.
Eyes benefit from the lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach. Scripps Research Institute studies found people who ate spinach three times a week had a 43 percent lower risk of developing macular degeneration………
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Source: Duluth News Tribune