31 Days of Raw: Day #7 – Spinach
I’m not sure where to begin my love letter to Spinach. Oh how I love thee, Spinach…thou are so good for me and thou taste so delicious. Hmmm…I might be on a roll. ;) Yes, I’m being ridiculous, but I must stress how much I LOVE Spinach! It’s one of my favorite greens, which are an incredible subcategory of food by themselves. Greens are packed full of nutrition. Most of which we have no idea about. Did you know that HALF of the calories of Spinach are protein? Not water, not even calcium, but protein. I love this because people are constantly asking me where I get my protein. Now Popeye doesn't sound so crazy, huh? Those forearms were no joke! Let’s learn more about this green wonder! Oh, and by the way…Spinach is in season in Arizona right now...go stop at a farmer’s market and pick yourself some local, organic Spinach!
Spinach contains a natural pigment known as lutein, and lutein has been studied and shown to have properties that help to prevent cataracts. Lutein also helps to prevent weakness in the eye muscles caused by aging.
Spinach is also loaded with natural antioxidants called flavenoids. As an antioxidant, flavenoids help the body fight against cell damage from within. Which also helps the fight against cancer, reducing a person’s chances of contacting various forms of cancer, especially prostate cancer. 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.
Perhaps this is where Popeye gets his powers from spinach. Iron is high in the leafy plant, and iron helps to carry blood throughout the body by helping to build red blood cells. More oxygen throughout the body and stronger red blood cells means more energy and less fatigue.
Cholesterol is that bad stuff that brings about blockages in the arteries. Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E all help to prevent or lessen the build up of that cholesterol within the arteries. Guess what contains its fair share of all those vitamins? If you guessed spinach, you win the prize! Sorry, not really. No prizes being handed out today. I can’t afford them.
Or maybe this is how Popeye builds his strength with spinach. Vitamin K is also common within spinach, and Vitamin K helps the bones to retain higher levels of calcium. And that calcium keeps the bones strong and helps to prevent osteoporosis, a disease in which bone density is reduced and fractures become more common.
Sodium raises your blood pressure. Spinach doesn’t have a lot of sodium. But it does contain plenty of potassium, and potassium helps to lessen the effects of sodium and helps to keep blood pressure lower. So, eat your spinach! But always check with your doctor about what to eat if you are suffering from high or low blood pressure or if you are suffering from any disease or are just not feeling well.
Eating spinach regularly is known to regulate blood sugar levels, so diabetics should probably eat some spinach. It’s all the magnesium in spinach that helps this vegetable to regulate blood sugar levels.
Spinach doesn’t have a lot of calories, about 40 calories per cup of uncooked spinach. That combined with the fact spinach has twice as much fiber as most other lettuces means spinach is an excellent food for losing weight. The low calories means you can eat until you’re more than full. The extra fiber means your body isn’t going to hang onto much of that spinach (or anything else, for that matter) for very long.
Considering all the anti-oxidant properties, vitamins, minerals, lutein and everything else found in spinach, this eatable green is known to strengthen the skin and thus to help with wrinkles and such with bring about the more aged look. So maybe try some spinach instead of going to the plastic surgeon. Just an idea. Don’t mean to tick off any plastic surgeons.
Remember all that Vitamin K from spinach that strengthens the bones? Well, your teeth are bones. Which means if you want stronger teeth, eating spinach is a bright idea.
Spinach is one of the richest dietary sources of lutien, a carotenoid that has been implicated as being protective against cataracts and other age related macular degeneration. In a study at Harvard Medical School in Boston, higher dietary intakes of lutein and vitamin E from food and supplements were associated with significantly decreased risks of cataract. Zeaxanthin is another carotenoid found in spinach, and in a study at Centre for Eye Research in Australia, it was found that high dietary lutein and zeaxanthin intake was associated with decreased prevalence of nuclear cataract.
That’s only the beginning. TRUST ME…this may be the most health-giving food so far this month. I love greens. In fact I love them so much that I enjoy a green smoothie EVERY day. Mine tend to be on the large size, but that’s because it’s an entire meal for me. 2 cups of spinach, 4 pears, 3 bananas, 2 apples, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of ice…yup, that’s an entire meal, huh? Blend it all up, fill some bottles, and drink on the go (at the park, while grocery shopping, standing in line at the post office, in between recording session…yes, my day is WILD!). ;)
How do I make a green smoothie, you may be asking? Well, it depends on your blender. If you have a high powered blender (Vitamix, Blentec, etc.), then throw everything in, hit the “high” switch and let it run till nice and creamy. If you have a regular blender…first blend your greens with water until no chunks are floating around…then dice your fruit nice and small and add a little at a time, adding more water if necessary.
Why a green smoothie? Why not a salad? Well, you are pre-digesting your greens this way. If we were to chew properly (which we don’t), we would chew and chew and chew until our food turned creamy in our mouths before swallowing. I’m lucky to chew 3-4 times before I want another bite of my scrumptious food…so I desperately need my smoothies. This way I’m getting LOTS of nutrition in, because I can assimilate it better all broken down. Now, my blender (Vitamix) runs so powerfully that it fully breaks the cell walls of the greens, thereby releasing all that yummy chlorophyll, the cancer-fighting agent. If I eat 2 cups of a greens in smoothie form, I am getting twice as much nutrition from it rather than eating 4 cups of greens in salad form. I just don’t chew very well…not enough and not hard enough. Thank you, Vitamix!! (If you don’t have a vitamix, you are STILL getting LOTS more nutrition when you blend.)
Autumn Green Smoothie
About the Blogger
Haley is passionate about Raw Food and how God has used it to heal her. She loves to share what she knows with anyone who is curious, and finds herself talking to everyone around her about her lifestyle.