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Spinach! Great For Weight Loss, Balanced Blood Sugar Levels, Disease Protection And Much More!
Beth M. Ley, Ph.D.

Spinach (and other dark leafy greens like kale, collards, Swiss chard, turnip greens and bok choy) are incredible nutritional powerhouses! They are loaded with potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin K and iron, yet hardly have any calories and has ZERO affect on blood sugars. Spinach is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, carotenoids, lutein and bioflavanoids! You probably didn't know that spinach also contains protein! 10 grams in a bunch (340 grams) which is equivalent to a large salad or less than a cup of cooked spinach. Nutrient dense foods like this are especially great for those with diabetes or trying to lose weight. Excessive intake of refined sugars and starches from sodas, corn syrup, sweets, white-flour breads and pastries, crackers, chips, various snacks, not to mention fried food have created epidemics in these two areas. These types of foods cause blood sugars to spike causing weight gain and the increased risk of developing diabetes. Conversely, blunting of blood sugar spikes (with foods like spinach) helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Being overweight and having type 2 diabetes go hand in hand.

Just by shedding some of those excess pounds by correcting some poor eating habits can completely REVERSE your diabetes! That's why spinach makes my list of favorite foods! The great variety of nutrients in spinach make it great for so many health problems: inflammation, free radicals, the heart, bones, AND even cancers! Researchers have identified more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents (including breast cancer). Excessive inflammation, of course, typically emerges as a risk factor for increased cancer risk. (That's why many anti-inflammatory nutrients are also anti-cancer.) But even when unrelated to cancer, excessive inflammation has been shown to be less likely following consumption of spinach. Particularly in the digestive tract, reduced inflammation has been associated not only with the flavonoids found in spinach, but also with its rich supply of carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, very important for eye health, including the retina and the macula.

The vitamin K provided by spinach is almost 200% of the Daily Value in one cup of fresh spinach leaves and over 1000% of the Daily Value in one cup of boiled spinach (which contains about 6 times as much spinach). This nutrient is critical for maintaining bone health. Vitamin K1 helps prevent excessive activation of the cells that break down bone. Additionally, friendly bacteria in our intestines convert vitamin K1 into vitamin K2, which promotes bone strength. It is difficult to find vegetables that are richer in vitamin K than spinach. Only kale provides more micrograms of vitamin K per cup. Spinach is also an excellent source of other bone-supportive nutrients including calcium and magnesium. So while spinach probably won't make you super strong the minute you eat it, as it did for Popeye, it will promote your health and vitality in many other ways.

Cooking Spinach Helps Calcium Absorption Raw spinach contains oxalic acids which can interfere with your ability to absorb the calcium in spinach. Blanching for 1 minute frees up those acids and allows (up to 50%) them to leach into the boiling water; this brings out a sweeter taste from the spinach. Discard the boiling water after cooking; do not drink it or use it for stock because of its acid content. Also, leaving the pot uncovered helps to release more of the acids with the rising steam. There is some loss of the water soluble nutrients with cooking, so don't overcook the spinach to minimize this. There is nothing wrong with eating raw spinach, there are so many nutrients to benefit from by eating it raw and plenty of other ways to get your calcium. Just understand that eating it raw, you won't get the calcium. Buying spinach.... fresh or frozen is best, I'd pass on the canned. Sorry Popeye!