Spinach – A Nutrition Packed Powerhouse
Spinach was made famous by the classic Popeye cartoon and its health benefits match the hype.
Spinach provides essential nutrients that benefit almost every aspect of health. Keep reading to find out how this humble vegetable can strengthen bones, optimize heart health, and even save your eyesight!
Loaded with Nutrients
Spinach is packed with many essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C and folate. It’s also very high in fiber, which keeps you ‘regular’ while maintaining steady blood sugar levels.
Just one cup of raw spinach (1) nutrients include:
- 0.8 milligram iron
- 23.7 milligrams magnesium
- 58.2 micrograms folate
- 145 micrograms vitamin K
- 2,813 international units vitamin A
Spinach Can Help Prevent Macular Degeneration
The leading cause of vision loss over age 60 is age-related macular degeneration. A condition that can slowly rob you of the ability to recognize faces or do detailed work by eroding your central vision.
The first signs are blurred vision and needing more light to read comfortably. Eventually straight lines start to look crooked. Finally dim or empty areas will block your central vision.
As the disease advances, delicate blood vessels in the eye can leak blood and fluid builds up in the retina, resulting in more damage.
However, eating spinach, which is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, can lower the risk of developing macular degeneration.
Research in Biomed Research International found that a diet higher in lutein and zeaxanthin caused significant improvements in patients with macular degeneration (2).
High in Magnesium Spinach Supports Heart Health
As the fourth most common mineral in the body, magnesium is a critical component in over 600 health-maintaining chemical reactions. Magnesium benefits our health in many ways, including:
- Relaxing blood vessels to keep blood pressure in a healthy range
- Playing a role in regulating blood sugar and insulin levels to prevent type 2 diabetes
- It’s critical for healthy nerve and muscle function
- Magnesium is a buffer between the brain’s synapses maintaining healthy cognition
Magnesium is so essential for the healthy function of most cells in our bodies that a magnesium deficiency can lead to serious health problems.
A 2016 study published in The Journal of the American Heart Association, finds low magnesium levels are associated with death from heart disease and heart failure (3).
One researcher many reviewed previous studies to conclude that magnesium levels could be the greatest predictor of heart disease — not cholesterol or saturated fat intake (4).
Spinach Boosts Testosterone, Muscle Mass and Strength
Spinach has several properties that can aid your body in increasing testosterone production including:
Spinach also has a special and powerful phytonutrient called “phytoecdysteroids” which has been shown in human case studies to increase muscle mass and strength (5, 6, 7).
Phytoecdysteroids have also been shown to help decrease stress which is a huge testosterone killer. (8)
I need to point out the study on stress was performed on rats and has not yet been verified on humans (due to the complicated nature of testing) so we cannot yet say for certain it will have the same effect on us.
However, more research is being done all the time on and it does make logical sense the benefit would at least in part carry over.
Check out our article on the best testosterone boosters to see what other foods and herbs can give your T a kick.
Rich in Chlorophyll
Spinach is rich extremely rich in Chlorophyll which is what gives it that dark green pigment.
Chlorophyll is one of the healthiest phytonutrients on the planet and is believed to help improve health on several levels.
Researchers still need to prove more in human case studies to show conclusive evidence, however, preliminary research is still promising and some of the potential benefits which have been linked to chlorophyll include:
- Blood Detoxification
- Faster Wound Healing
- Gut Health
- Increased Energy
- Stronger Immune System
- Cancer Prevention
- Diabetes Support
- Fights Cardiovascular Disease
- Improved Brain Function
Including leafy green and cruciferous vegetables like spinach in your diet can help prevent cancer.
Spinach can slow the formation of cancerous cells by defending against DNA damage and reducing free radical damage with the antioxidants neoxanthin and violaxanthin (9).
These powerful substances protect our cells from mutations that could eventually lead to cancerous tumors.
Spinach also contains chloroplast and chlorophyll which act as potent cancer-fighters by removing carcinogenic substances from the body, reducing inflammation, and also slowing free radical damage (10).
Maintains Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
There are protective steroids in spinach known as phytoecdysteroids.
Research has shown that this class of steroid can increase sugar metabolism to maintain stable blood sugar levels (11).
This is especially important to prevent conditions like prediabetes (metabolic syndrome), and type 2 diabetes, because it reduces the amount of insulin your body needs to produce.
The fiber in spinach will also help slow sugar absorption in the gut to keep blood sugar stable (12).
Spinach Supports Bone Health
Vitamin K is critical for healthy bones and spinach is jam-packed with this essential nutrient. The vitamin K in spinach can help prevent osteoporosis and strengthen bones to prevent fractures (13, 14).
Additionally, it plays a powerful role in blood clotting and reducing inflammation in your body (15, 16).
Spinach Boosts Brain Health
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli provide high levels pf brain-healthy vitamins like folate, lutein, vitamin K, and beta carotene. These plant-based nutrients may even help slow cognitive decline.
Studies show that spinach can enhance brain health by protecting against age-related disease and could even reverse some brain damage due to stroke (17).
One animal study found that giving rats a supplement of spinach extract reversed age-related cognitive decline and improved their motor performance (18).
Next Level Difference
Our Next Level multivitamin features 400 mg of spinach extract super concentrated at 4:1 which is equivalent to 1,600 mg of spinach extract!
You may also like our article on how to choose the best multivitamins.
- United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release – Link
- Huang, Yang-Mu et al. “Effect of supplemental lutein and zeaxanthin on serum, macular pigmentation, and visual performance in patients with early age-related macular degeneration.” BioMed research international vol. 2015 (2015): 564738. doi:10.1155/2015/564738 – Link
- Kieboom BC, Niemeijer MN, Leening MJ, et al. Serum Magnesium and the Risk of Death From Coronary Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;5(1):e002707. Published 2016 Jan 22. doi:10.1161/JAHA.115.002707 – Link
- A. Rosanoff, PhD. The Magnesium Hypothesis of Cardiovascular Disease The Missing Mineral—Magnesium (The Strong Link of Low Nutritional Magnesium and High Calcium-to-Magnesium Ratio in the Genesis of Cardiovascular Disease). January 2013 – Link
- Phytoecdysteroids and anabolic androgenic steroids structure and effects on humans. Báthori M, Tóth N, Hunyadi A, Márki A, Zádor E. – Link
- Phytoecdysteroids: A Novel, Non-Androgenic Alternative for Muscle Health and Performance Kevin A Zwetsloot, Andrew R Shanely, Edward K Merritt and Jeffrey M McBride – Link
- Phytoecdysteroids – Understanding Their Anabolic Activity by Jonathan Isaac Gorelick-Feldman – Link
- Stress-protective properties of phytoecdysteroids. Syrov VN, Islamova ZhI, Égamova FR, Iuldasheva NKh, Khushbaktova ZA. – Link
- Porrini, M., Riso, P. & Oriani, G. Eur J Nutr (2002) 41: 95 – Link
- Maeda N, Matsubara K, Yoshida H, Mizushina Y. Anti-cancer effect of spinach glycoglycerolipids as angiogenesis inhibitors based on the selective inhibition of DNA polymerase activity. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2011 Jan;11(1):32-8 – Link
- Dinan L. The Karlson Lecture. Phytoecdysteroids: what use are they? Arch Insect Biochem Physiol. 2009 Nov;72(3):126-41. doi: 10.1002/arch.20334 – Link
- Robert E. Post, Arch G. Mainous, Dana E. King and Kit N. Simpson. Dietary Fiber for the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Meta-Analysis. J Am Board Fam Med January 2012, 25 (1) 16-23 – Link
- Pearson DA. Bone health and osteoporosis: the role of vitamin K and potential antagonism by anticoagulants. Nutr Clin Pract. 2007 Oct;22(5):517-44 – Link
- Weber P. Vitamin K and bone health. Nutrition. 2001 Oct;17 (10):880-7 – Link
- Gröber U, Reichrath J, Holick MF, Kisters K. Vitamin K: an old vitamin in a new perspective. Dermatoendocrinol. 2015;6(1):e968490. Published 2015 Jan 21. doi:10.4161/19381972.2014.968490 – Link
- Shea MK, Booth SL, Massaro JM, et al. Vitamin K and vitamin D status: associations with inflammatory markers in the Framingham Offspring Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2007;167(3):313–320. doi:10.1093/aje/kwm306 – Link
- Wang Y1, Chang CF, Chou J, Chen HL, Deng X, Harvey BK, Cadet JL, Bickford PC. Dietary supplementation with blueberries, spinach, or spirulina reduces ischemic brain damage. Exp Neurol. 2005 May;193(1):75-84 – Link
- Joseph JA1, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA, Bielinski D, Martin A, McEwen JJ, Bickford PC. Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. J Neurosci. 1999 Sep 15;19(18):8114-21 – Link