What is Spinach Good For?

What is Spinach?

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a leafy green flowering plant that originated in Persia and native to central and western Asia. It is of the order Caryophyllales, family Amaranthaceae, subfamily Chenopodioideae and is related to beets and quinoa.

Its leaves are a common edible vegetable consumed either fresh, or after storage using preservation techniques by canning, freezing, or dehydration.

This article explores the nutrition contained in spinach, how it can benefit the body, and some potential risks to avoid.

Nutritional Facts About Spinach

One cup of raw spinach contains:

  • 7 calories
  • 0.86 grams (g) of protein
  • 30 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 0.81 g of iron
  • 24 mg of magnesium
  • 167 mg of potassium
  • 2,813 international units (IU) of Vitamin A
  • 58 micrograms of folate

Spinach also contains vitamin K, fiber, phosphorus, and thiamine. Most of the calories in spinach come from protein and carbohydrates.

The nutrition facts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw spinach are

  • Calories: 23
  • Water: 91%
  • Protein: 2.9 grams
  • Carbs: 3.6 grams
  • Sugar: 0.4 grams
  • Fiber: 2.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.4 grams

Carbs

Most of the carbs in spinach consist of fiber, which is incredibly healthy. Spinach also contains small amounts of sugar, mostly in the form of glucose and fructose.

Fiber

Spinach is high in insoluble fiber, which may boost your health in several ways It adds bulk to stool as food passes through your digestive system. This may help prevent constipation.

Iron

A lack of iron in the diet can affect how efficiently the body uses energy. Spinach is a great source of iron. Make sure to combine vitamin-C-rich foods such as citrus fruits with plant iron like spinach to improve absorption.

Calcium

Spinach contains approximately 250 mg of calcium per cup. However, it is less easily absorbed than calcium obtained from dairy sources. Spinach has a high oxalate content, which binds to calcium. This makes it difficult for our bodies to use.

Magnesium

Spinach is also one of the best sources of dietary magnesium, which is necessary for energy metabolism, maintaining muscle and nerve function, regular heart rhythm, a healthy immune system, and maintaining blood pressure. Magnesium also plays a part in hundreds more biochemical reactions that occur in the body.

Vitamins and minerals

Spinach is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin A. Spinach is high in carotenoids, which your body can turn into vitamin A.
  • Vitamin C. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that promotes skin health and immune function.
  • Vitamin K1. This vitamin is essential for blood clotting. Notably, one spinach leaf contains over half of your daily needs.
  • Folic acid. Also known as folate or vitamin B9, this compound is vital for pregnant women and essential for normal cellular function and tissue growth.

Spinach also contains several other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, and vitamins B6, B9, and E.

Plant compounds

Spinach contains several important plant compounds, including:

  • Lutein. This compound is linked to improved eye health.
  • Kaempferol. This antioxidant may decrease your risk of cancer and chronic diseases.
  • Nitrates. Spinach contains high amounts of nitrates, which may promote heart health.
  • Quercetin. This antioxidant may ward off infection and inflammation. Spinach is one of the richest dietary sources of quercetin.
  • Zeaxanthin. Like lutein, zeaxanthin can also improve eye health.

What are the Health Benefits of Spinach?

Spinach has the following possible health benefits:

1. Diabetes management

Spinach contains an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative, stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

Studies on alpha-lipoic acid have also shown decreases in peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy in diabetics.

2. Cancer prevention

Spinach and other green vegetables contain chlorophyll. Several studies, including this 2013 study carried out on 12,000 animals, have shown chlorophyll to be effective at blocking the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines.

These are generated when grilling foods at a high temperature. This can contribute to preventing the growth of cancer.

3. Asthma prevention

A study of 433 children with asthma between the ages of 6 and 18 years, and 537 children without, showed that the risks for developing asthma are lower in people who have a high intake of certain nutrients.

One of these nutrients is beta-carotene. Spinach is an excellent source of beta-carotene.

4. Lowering blood pressure

Due to its high potassium content, spinach is recommended for people with high blood pressure.

Potassium can help reduce the effects of sodium in the body. A low potassium intake might be as potent a risk factor for developing high blood pressure as a high sodium intake.

5. Bone health

Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture.

Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health, as it acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption, and may reduce the amount of calcium that leaves the body in urine.

6. Promotes digestive regularity

Spinach is high in fiber and water, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.

7. Healthy skin and hair

Spinach has large quantities of vitamin A, which moderates the production of oil in the skin pores and hair follicles to moisturize the skin and hair.

It is this oil that can build up to cause acne. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.

Spinach and other leafy greens high in vitamin C are crucial for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.

Iron deficiency is a common cause of hair loss, which may be prevented by an adequate intake of iron-rich foods, such as spinach.

8. Oxidative stress

Free radicals are byproducts of metabolism. They can cause oxidative stress, which triggers accelerated aging and increases your risk of cancer and diabetes.

However, spinach contains antioxidants, which fight oxidative stress and help reduce the damage it causes.

One study in eight healthy people found that spinach helped prevent oxidative damage. Although this study was quite small, its findings are backed up by other animal and human research..

9. Eye health

Spinach is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein, which are the carotenoids responsible for color in some vegetables.

Human eyes also contain high quantities of these pigments, which protect your eyes from the damage caused by sunlight

Additionally, several studies indicate that zeaxanthin and lutein work to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, which are major causes of blindness.

These compounds may even be able to reverse existing damage.

Potential downsides

Spinach is generally considered very healthy. However, it may cause adverse effects in some individuals.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are caused by acid and mineral salt buildup. The most common variety is calcium stones, which consist of calcium oxalate.

Spinach is high in both calcium and oxalates, so people who are at a high risk of developing kidney stones should limit their intake.

Blood clotting

Spinach is high in vitamin K1, which serves several functions in your body but is best known for its role in blood clotting.

As such, it could interfere with blood-thinning medication. People who are taking blood thinners, such as warfarin, should consult with their healthcare practitioner before eating large amounts of spinach.

Spinach Extract: Weight Loss Supplement?

One weight loss supplement that entered the market recently is called spinach extract. It’s claimed to cause weight loss by reducing appetite and cravings.

This article provides a detailed review of spinach extract and its weight loss effects.

What Is Spinach Extract?

Spinach extract is a weight loss supplement made from spinach leaves. It is also known by the brand name Appethyl, which is owned by the Swedish company Greenleaf Medical AB.

Spinach extract is a green powder that can be mixed with water or smoothies. It’s also sold in other forms, including capsules and snack bars.

The powder consists of concentrated spinach leaf thylakoids, which are microscopic structures found inside the chloroplasts of green plant cells. The role of the thylakoids is to harvest sunlight — a process known as photosynthesis — which provides plants with the energy they need to produce carbs.

Thylakoids are composed of about 70% proteins, antioxidants, and chlorophyll, while the other 30% mostly consists of fat. Thylakoids are not unique to spinach leaves. In fact, they’re found in the leaves of all green plants — and similar supplements could be made from those plants as well.

Note that other supplements may also be called spinach extract, but this article only refers to the type of thylakoid concentrate found in Appethyl.

SUMMARY

Spinach extract — also known as Appethyl — is a weight loss supplement. It contains thylakoids, which consist mostly of proteins, antioxidants, and chlorophyll.

Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you resources, like this. In order to do this, please note that whenever you click the links in my posts and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission.

How Does It Work?

Thylakoids from spinach extract suppress the activity of lipase, an enzyme that digests fat.

This helps delay fat digestion, which increases your levels of appetite-reducing hormones like glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). It also reduces levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

Unlike pharmaceutical weight loss drugs like orlistat, thylakoids cause a temporary delay in fat digestion but don’t prevent it completely.

As a result, spinach extract doesn’t have the unpleasant side effects of other lipase-inhibiting drugs, such as fatty stools and stomach cramps.

It’s not entirely clear what part of the thylakoids is responsible for these effects, but they may be caused by certain proteins or fats called galactolipids.

SUMMARY

Spinach extract promotes weight loss by delaying fat digestion, temporarily reducing appetite, and causing you to eat less.

Can It Help You Lose Weight?

Animal studies show that taking thylakoid-rich spinach extract may reduce body fat and weight..

Studies in overweight adults indicate that adding 3.7–5 grams of spinach extract to a meal reduces appetite for several hours. By suppressing appetite, spinach extract may lead to weight loss if taken regularly over a few months.

One study in overweight women found that consuming 5 grams of spinach extract every day as part of a 3-month weight loss program resulted in 43% greater weight loss than a placebo.

Body mass index (BMI), fat mass, and lean mass decreased as well, but differences across groups were insignificant.

Plus, it should be noted that some of the researchers involved in this study had financial ties to the company that developed the supplement.

Therefore, the findings need to be confirmed by an independent research group.

SUMMARY

Studies show that taking spinach extract supplements for a few months may cause weight loss. However, due to a potential conflict of interest, further studies are needed.

May Fight Cravings

Spinach extract may suppress your brain’s food reward system, reducing cravings.

When overweight women consumed 5 grams of spinach extract per day, cravings for sweets and chocolate decreased by 95% and 87%, respectively.

Another study in women suggests that 5 grams of spinach extract reduce cravings for snack foods, including those that are salty, sweet, and fatty. However, no effects on calorie intake at a later buffet were observed.

The reduction in cravings maybe because spinach extract promotes the release of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which acts on your food reward system.

SUMMARY

Spinach extract may suppress your brain’s food reward system, temporarily reducing cravings. Over time, this contributes to weight loss.

Safety and Side Effects

Spinach extract appears to be without serious side effects.In healthy people, it may temporarily reduce insulin levels and increase blood sugar.

Still, it does not seem to have long-term effects on blood sugar control. Nonetheless, further studies are needed to assess the safety of spinach extract for people with type 2 diabetes.

SUMMARY

Spinach extract may reduce insulin levels temporarily. Otherwise, its use appears to be safe and without side effects.

Dosage and How to Use

An effective dose of spinach extract is about 4–5 grams when taken with a meal. However, you may need to take it for a few months before you see any effects on your weight.

Since spinach extract delays fat digestion and reduce appetite for a few hours, it’s of greater use when taken before a meal that contains fat.

You shouldn’t expect to see any significant benefits from the supplement alone. As with all weight loss supplements, you also need to make some healthy lifestyle changes.

SUMMARY

Spinach extract is of most use when taken with meals that contain fat. An effective dose is 4–5 grams per day.

Summary

Evidence suggests that spinach extract may be an effective weight loss supplement.

By delaying fat digestion, temporarily reduces appetite and cravings. When combined with other lifestyle modifications, this may lead to significant weight loss.

However, many of the scientists studying spinach extract have industry ties. Further studies by independent research groups would strengthen the evidence.

Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you resources, like this. In order to do this, please note that whenever you click the links in my posts and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission.

Tell us in the comments below:

1. What is your experience in eating spinach? 2. What is your favorite spinach dish? 3. How do you prepare your spinach? Is it soup? Salad? Juice or Smoothie?

REFERENCES:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270609 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/spinach-extract-and-weight-loss#what-it-is

Leave a Comment