Spinach commonly known as palak is a green leafy vegetable that belongs to Amaranthaceae family. Spinach plant generally grows up to a height of about 1 foot and is slightly bitter in taste. Spinach is considered as a nutritious vegetable that is tender and crispy. Spinach grows in both summer and winter seasons and it is considered as a biennial plant.
Spinach is commonly used in a variety of cuisines. Dark green leafy vegetables are important for your health as they are rich in proteins, vitamins and iron. Spinach is one of the healthiest plant based food. It is a promising nutritious food with an array of health benefits.
Types of Spinach
There are two varieties of spinach based on the pattern and time required for their growth. The major difference in old and new varieties of spinach is that, the modern varieties of spinach grow rapidly when compared to old ones. The older varieties generally have narrower leaves and are bitter in taste.
The common types of spinach include the following:
Savoy is a variety that has dark green wrinkly and curly leaves. It is mostly found in United States. Savoy is also classified into different varieties like: bloomsdale, Merlo nero and viroflay. These varieties grow in different parts of the world.
Flat or smooth leaf spinach
This type of spinach contains smooth leaves that are easy to clean. Mostly this type of spinach is sold in frozen condition or in cans. This variety is mainly used in preaparatiuon of baby foods and soups.
Semi savoy is a hybrid variety that is recognized by slightly crinckled leaves. It is quite similar to savoy in texture and it can also be cleaned easily.
Health Benefits of Spinach
The famous dark green leafy vegetable that is found everywhere in the world has many health benefits. The most common health benefits of spinach include:
Spinach is a low calorie vegetable with low fat content. It is a very nutritious vegetable that is rich in fat soluble dietary fibre. This fibre aids in digestion process and helps in avoiding repetitive eating while dieting.
Spinach is rich in flavanoids. Flavanoids are phytonutrient with anti-cancer properties. Spinach helps in slowing down the cancer cell division. Eating spinach reduces the risks of skin cancer and stomach cancer.
Reduce risk of prostate cancer
Spinach helps in decreasing the risk of destructive prostate cancer. The risk of 3rd and 4th stage of prostate cancer can be decreased by consuming spinach on a daily basis.
Spinach is rich in neoxanthin and violaxanthin. These are two anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls that regulates inflammation. Spinach plays an important role in preventing inflammatory diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis, migraine and asthma.
Spinach is rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants protects your eyes from cataracts and age related macular degeneration (ARMD). Zeaxanthin is considered as an important dietary carotenoid that gets absorbed in the retinal macula lutea in your eyes. Zeaxanthin provides light filtering functions.
Vitamin A is also present in spinach that is required for maintaining a healthy mucus membrane. Vitamin A is also essential for maintaining a normal eyesight.
Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health. Large amount of vitamin K is present in spinach. RDA of vitamin K helps in lowing and controlling the over activation of osteooclasts. Vitamins K plays a major role in osteocalcin synthesis. Osteocalcin is essential for maintaining the strength and density of your bones.
Stimulates bone protein
Spinach is rich in vitamin K. Friendly bacteria present in your intestine can convert the vitamin K1 into vitamin K2 that has the ability to stimulate the bone protein called ostecalcin. It results in attaching the calcium molecules within your bones.
There are certain nutrients that are present in spinach which helps in reducing stress and anxiety and thus lowers the risk of hypertension. High blood pressure or hypertension can have a negative impact on other organs and in few cases it may result in kidney disease, heart ailments and stroke.
The nutrients present in spinach play a key role in maintain a balance of Na-K pump by lowering the potassium (K) levels in your body. Vitamin C also plays a major role in lowering hypertension.
Relaxes your body
Spinach helps in relaxing your body by making it completely stress free. As spinach contains a large amount of zinc and magnesium, it helps in improving your sleep. Magnesium content present in spinach aids in replenishing your lost energy.
Including spinach in your daily diet promotes your gastrointestinal health. Spinach contains vitamin C and beta-carotene which helps in protecting colon cells from harmful effect if free radiacals in your body. Folate present in spinach prevents DNA damage and the mutations that occur in colon cells.
Proper and healthy brain functioning is maintained with the help of spinach. Eat spinach daily as it makes your brain more active and helps in making right decisions intelligently. Hormone production is modulated with folate, vitamin K and vitamin C content.
A healthy nervous system is maintained by the synthesis of sphingolipids. Spingolipis is the crucial fat that makes the myelin shealth around your nerves. Spinach also helps in correcting behavioural and cognitive issues.
Prevents heart attack and atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis generally occurs due to excess of fat deposition that results in thickening of the human artery wall. Heart attack is caused due to the hardening of artery walls. Lutein present in spinach prevents the thickening of the artery walls, resulting in reducing the risk of heart attack.
Spinach also contains nitrite which helps in preventing the occurrence of heart attack and also cures heart diseases associated with fat deposition.
Lowers blood pressure
Spinach also contains peptides that are known to be effective in lowering blood pressure as it inhibits the angiotensin I-converting enzyme.
Spinach is rich in vitamin A content and also strengthens the entry points likes mucous membrane, respiratory tract, urinary tract and intestinal tract. Vitamin A is a key component of lymphocytes that helps your body in fighting against infection.
Spinach aids in calcification as it is rich in vitamin K. Vitamin K is an essential component of the process called carboxylation that results in production of matrix Gla protein. It also helps in preventing calcium formation in tissues, thus eventually aids in preventing atherosclerosis.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron and it helps in preventing anaemia. Iron is an essential mineral for menstruating women and children. Spinach is comparatively better than red meat as it is fat free and contains less calories.
Include spinach in your daily diet either in the form of a curry or a raw juice because it helps in overall functioning of your body. Spinach is an abundant source of nutrient that is required by your body at every stage of your life. The nutritional content present in spinach also helps in preventing major health issues.