Why you should eat more spinach

Watermelon is high in potassium, a mineral that could cut down on cramps at the gym, or during work-out. / Net photo

Eating plenty of vegetables has been linked to the overall good health of a human being. And spinach, as part of the vegetable family, its consumption aids the prevention of many diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, among other ailments.

Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Cabinet Clinic in Remera says half of what people eat daily should be non-starchy vegetables.

For spinach, he says including it in your daily diet can ensure optimal nutrition and one can as well get a full range of, minerals, and other nutrients.

Abundant with vitamins

Kamanzi says spinach is packed with vitamin A and C, folate, magnesium, and most importantly, it’s also low in calories.

To improve iron absorption, he says one can opt for eating spinach with vitamin C-rich foods such as orange juice, tomatoes, and citrus fruit.

Besides, Kamanzi notes that this kind of vegetable is loaded with tons of nutrients in a low-calorie package.

He explains that dark, leafy greens like spinach are important for skin, hair, and bone health. They also provide protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals.

“The possible health benefits of consuming spinach include improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering the risk of cancer, and improving bone health, as well as supplying minerals and vitamins,” he adds.

Joseph Uwiragiye, head of nutrition department at University Teaching Hospital (CHUK), says a lack of iron in the diet can affect how efficiently the body uses its energy.

Therefore, he says spinach is a great source of iron and eating them on regular is vital.

Additionally, he says 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.

He explains that magnesium plays a part in hundreds of more biochemical reactions that occur in the body.

Other benefits

Studies indicate that 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.

Uwiragiye says that spinach and other green vegetables contain chlorophyll, which is effective at blocking  the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines also referred to as HCAs.

These are chemical compounds containing at least one heterocyclic ring, which by its definition has atoms of at least two different elements.

These are generated when grilling foods at high temperatures.

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

Potassium found in spinach can help reduce the effects of sodium in the body.

“A low potassium intake might be a potential risk factor for developing high blood pressure as well as high sodium intake,” he says.

When it comes to bone health, Kamanzi says spinach is the way to go.

He notes that low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture.

He further explains that adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health, as it acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improve calcium absorption, and may as well reduce the amount of calcium that leaves the body in urine.

For those people with digestive problems due to different reasons, Uwiragiye says consuming spinach can help promote digestive regularity.

He says this is so because the spinach is high in fibre and water, both of which help to prevent constipation  and in the long run promote a healthy digestive tract.

He also says for a healthy skin and hair, incorporating spinach in your diet can be the best thing to do.

Kamanzi says this is so because spinach has large quantities of vitamin A, which moderates the production of oil in the skin pores and hair follicles to moisturise 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,” he adds.

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

Nutritionists say iron deficiency is a common cause of hair loss, therefore, adequate intake of iron-rich foods, such as spinach can rectify this.

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