Leafy greens are a go-to source of nutrition for those who are in the know about health. It’s no secret that putting more kale, chard, arugula, romaine, and spinach on your plate just makes good sense when you’re trying to be healthier. Spinach is one leafy green that’s readily accessible and particularly beneficial for both your body and brain. How many of these super health benefits of raw spinach (including detoxification) are you aware of?
What Nutrients Are in Spinach?
First, let’s talk about the basics – all those essential vitamins and minerals that are found in spinach that can aid your health in every way.
Spinach has healthy amounts of vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene. It’s also packed full of vitamin K. In fact, a mere cup of raw spinach contains 181% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin K !
Spinach also contains vitamin C and many forms of B vitamins, including B6, B12, folate, and pantothenic acid. In addition, it provides many essential nutrients such as choline and betaine as well as key minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium, and a healthy amount of iron.
Low in Calories, High in Fiber
In addition to all the above nutrients found in spinach, it also contains about 3 grams of protein for every 100 grams of veg and about 2 grams of fiber. Spinach has a very high water content and only about 22 to 25 calories for every 100 grams .
The fact that raw spinach is:
- high fiber
- high water
- low calorie
- and nutrient-dense
makes it a true superfood (and perfect diet food) in every way!
3 Unique Antioxidants Found in Spinach Leaf
Some of the other major health benefits of eating spinach come by way of its powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants from whole foods are essential in today’s toxic world. They help to clear oxidation and the damage that too many free radicals can do on the genetic level when they are left to proliferate unchecked (i.e., premature aging).
Here are just three of the many unique antioxidants found in spinach:
#1. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
ALA, which comes from magnesium, is especially beneficial for those suffering from diabetes since it helps to balance blood sugar levels. ALA has also been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Too much time in front of the computer, seasonal allergies, and getting older can all have a negative effect on eye health. Lutein is one of the most important phytonutrients to help in this regard and spinach has it in spades.
According to the authors of a 2018 meta-analysis, “a large body of evidence shows that lutein has several beneficial effects, especially on eye health .”
Spinach is a natural source of quercetin, a super antioxidant that has been connected in recent research to the reduction of chronic disease. The experts at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center explain that quercetin can work as a chemoprotective substance against cancer cells and also as an anti-apoptotic agent for healthy cells, protecting them from destruction.
Quercetin also has metabolic benefits and has been found to be helpful for those with arthritis .
Are the Nitrates in Spinach Healthy or Harmful for You?
No doubt you’ve heard of nitrites and nitrates that are used as preservatives, especially in commercial meat, and have likely been told to avoid them.
There are some good forms of nitrite, however, that first comes in the form of nitrates found in whole foods like spinach. When you chew a bite of food, like a spinach leaf, the chemical reactions that occur next convert this nitrate to nitrite which eventually changes into nitric oxide in the gut. This is when the magic happens.
Nitric oxide (NO) has been connected to:
- calming the nervous system
- helping the blood
- kick-starting metabolism
A 2014 study conducted by the Hypertension Institute in Nashville found that nitric oxide can “lower BP (blood pressure), improve vascular compliance, and restore endothelial function in patients with hypertension .”
Nitrates in Leafy Greens Like Spinach Are Good for Your Heart
For years the presence of nitrates and nitrites in foods had been associated with certain kinds of disease, especially cancer. Although this may be true for synthetically produced nitrate/nitrite preservatives that are added to foods, natural nitrates found in vegetables such as spinach are a whole different story.
In one 2011 review of scientific literature, researchers at the University of Texas concluded that the production of nitric oxide from certain foods can actually provide cardiovascular and cancer protection. According to the researchers, “the collective body of evidence suggests that foods enriched in nitrite and nitrate provide significant health benefits with very little risk .”
4 Health Benefits of Raw Spinach When It Comes to Detoxing Your Body
On top of all the health benefits of raw spinach related to its vitamins & minerals, antioxidants, and nitric oxide production… did you know that spinach actually helps your body detox at every level? Here are 4 key ways…
#1 – Help for the liver.
Spinach leaves contain chlorophyll, which is a phytonutrient that gives all leafy greens their dark green color. Chlorophyll has some pretty impressive benefits for humans as well since it is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal.
Chlorophyll has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. One investigation conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the substance chlorophyllin, which is derived from chlorophyll, can help reduce DNA damage that is associated with liver cancer .
#2 – Detoxing the colon.
The fiber in spinach can definitely contribute to a healthier colon. Another factor for gut health, in general, is the high amounts of vitamin C and A (in the form of beta-carotene) within spinach.
Recent research has found that key forms of B vitamins (mainly folate) can help to protect the intestinal tract from damage on the genetic level and may provide relief and healing for gastric ulcers as well.
A 2020 investigation conducted at University of Tokushima in Japan found that substances called glycoglycerolipids found in spinach can increase GI tract lining strength. This is vital for clearing up many conditions that are associated with leaky gut (intestinal permeability) and other GI tract disorders .
#3 – Promoting brain detoxification.
In this toxic world, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to helping your liver, which is your primary organ of detoxification.
New research in neurodegenerative diseases has shown that the brain also needs our active participation in getting rid of toxins that may contribute to brain fog, anxiety/depression, memory loss, cognitive decline, and more serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
In fact, Alzheimer’s prevention is one of the key benefits of eating more spinach. According to a study at Rush University, amongst others, eating green leafy vegetables can slow cognitive decline .
Low folate levels also contribute to the disease, and spinach has an ample amount of that as well. Other key vitamins in spinach that can help with brain detoxification (and increase brain function) are vitamin C and K.
Spinach also contains high levels of zinc, as well as magnesium (mentioned earlier). Both of these essential minerals are essential for healthy circadian rhythms (your sleep-wake cycle) .
#4 – Boosting immune function.
All of the good effects mentioned above add up to a real boost for your immune system. A major study conducted by the Babraham Institute found that green leafy vegetables such as spinach can influence certain white blood cells that play a role in both gut health and infection-fighting. Remember that without a strong immune system, many pathogens can go undetected and never be eliminated .
The immune system is intimately connected to detoxification in the blood. The iron in spinach (as well as in all green leafy veggies) helps to replenish red blood cells. Infused with extra oxygen, the blood is detoxified and the whole body becomes energized.
Bonus Health Benefit of Spinach: Healthier-Looking Skin!
A happy (but not insignificant) side note is what this green leafy can do for your skin. The antioxidant combo found in spinach can even help to clear up acne (Acne vulgaris). A human trial published in the journal Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology found that whole foods (like spinach) that contain vitamins A, E, and the mineral zinc can help those with the severest cases of acne .
Other blemishes and redness have been shown to reduce as well. This is because spinach contains several key substances, such as omega-3 fatty acids, that can aid in lowering inflammation overall .
Get Some Spinach in Your Daily Diet to Begin Detoxing Today!
Leafy greens are a must for everyone wanting to live a healthier, more vibrant life. In addition to lots of fresh spinach salads, raw spinach is an excellent addition to smoothies, soups, and stir fry. Adding spinach to your daily diet can help support your body’s natural detoxification system, as well as provide key nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants – all adding up to amazing health and immunity benefits and healthier-looking skin.