Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article # 74. SPINACH
Among the World's Healthiest vegetables, spinach comes out at the top of our ranking list for nutrient richness. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it is also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection.
There are three different types of spinach generally available. Savoy has crisp, creased curly leaves that have a springy texture. Smooth-leaf has flat, unwrinkled, spade-shaped leaves, while semi-savoy is similar in texture to savoy but is not as crinkled in appearance. Baby spinach is great for use in salads owing to its taste and delicate texture.
Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.
Do not wash spinach before storing as the exposure to water encourages spoilage. Place spinach in a plastic storage bag and wrap the bag tightly around the spinach, squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Place in refrigerator where it will keep fresh for up to 5 days.
Health Benefits of SPINACH
Low in calories and high in vitamins, spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. One cup of the leafy green vegetable contains far more than your daily requirements of vitamin K and vitamin A, almost all the manganese and folate your body needs and nearly 40 percent of your magnesium requirement. It is a good, very good or excellent source of more than 20 different measurable nutrients, including dietary fiber, calcium and protein. And yet, 1 cup has only 40 calories! Spinach is an excellent choice for nutrition without high calories.
Spinach contains more than a dozen individual flavonoid compounds, which work together as cancer-fighting antioxidants. These elements neutralize free radicals in the body and thus help to prevent cancer. In fact, one study of New England women showed less breast cancer cases among those who ate spinach on a regular basis. Spinach extracts have reduced skin cancer in lab animals and show promise at slowing stomach cancer as well.
According to research compiled by Whole Foods, spinach is an excellent promoter of cardiovascular health. The antioxidant properties of spinach (water-soluble in the form of vitamin C and fat-soluble beta-carotene) work together to promote good cardiovascular health by preventing the harmful oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol is a danger to the heart and arteries. Magnesium in spinach works toward healthy blood pressure levels. In fact, just a salad-size portion of spinach will work to lower high blood pressure within hours. A serving of spinach contains 65 percent of your daily requirement of folate, and folate converts harmful, stroke-inducing chemicals into harmless compounds.
The Journal of Nutrition reports that our leafy friend, spinach, contains a carotenoid that makes prostate cancers destroy themselves. This same carotenoid, after being changed by the intestines, prevents prostate cancer from reproducing itself. Spinach also contains kaempferol, a strong antioxidant that prevents the formation of cancerous cells. Women who have a high intake of this flavonoid show a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, likely because of kaempferol's ability to reduce cancer cells proliferation. Kaempferol is also found in non-herbal tea, onions, apples, citrus, grapes, red wine, curly kale, St. John's wort, leeks, broccoli and blueberries.
Still need motivation to eat a few servings of spinach every day? This dark green leaf will protect your brain function from premature aging and slow old age's typical negative effects on your metal capabilities. Spinach accomplishes this by preventing the harmful effects of oxidation on your brain. Those who eat a vegetables in quantity, especially those of the leafy green variety, experience a decrease in brain function loss. However, there is no such correlation with fruit consumption. Oh, and iceberg lettuce doesn't cut it. A good rule of thumb: the darker the leaf, the better. Which brings us back to spinach.