9 Health Reasons You Need to Start Eating More Spinach Right Now

Remember Popeye's love of spinach? Turns out, he was onto something because the nutrient-packed superfood is even healthier than you thought it was.

It improves blood glucose levels

blood-sugariStock/londoneyeThere’s a reason (actually, many reasons) why spinach is called a diabetic superfood. Just one cup has 40 percent of your recommended daily serving of magnesium, which can help regulate blood sugars. It possesses the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid, which lowers glucose levels and boosts insulin sensitivity. Its low glycemic index keeps you safe from unexpected blood sugar spikes. Plus, non-diabetics can also benefit from these leafy greens. Researchers in England found that eating 1.15 servings (a little more than a cup) of spinach every day can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent.

It reduces your cancer risk

canceriStock/CatLaneAdding more spinach to your diet is just one of many simple ways you can prevent cancer. Along with leafy veggies like kale, lettuce, and chard, spinach contains carotenoids, pigments found in plants that act as antioxidants to eliminate potentially dangerous free radicals. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, foods with carotenoids can help prevent cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx. They may even be able to slow the spread of breast cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, and skin cancer.

It lowers blood pressure

blood-pressureiStock/PeopleImagesYou can keep a high blood pressure in check using natural remedies and stocking up on foods that work into the DASH diet. (Find out the foods that lower high blood pressure.) Significant amounts of potassium, folate, and magnesium put spinach in this important category. In some cases, these lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough, and your doctor may put you on medication.

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It boosts bone health

boneiStock/PeopleImagesSpinach is a bit complicated when it comes to bone health. It’s loaded with calcium, but it also contains oxalates that make it hard for the body to absorb that calcium. However, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends spinach as a valuable source of vitamin K, which is proven to increase bone density and can even prevent fractures. So here’s the compromise: Next time you make a spinach salad, include cheese or a non-dairy calcium source to get the benefits of both for your bones. (These are the silent signs you have osteoporosis.)

It eases your constipation

constipationiStock/vadimguzhvaFiber is the go-to nutrient for bathroom troubles (though sometimes it does more harm than good). Since spinach has soluble and insoluble fiber, it helps ease you through any blockage. As an added bonus, the magnesium in spinach helps the colon contract so it draws in water to wash waste through your system. Here’s how you can add more fiber to your diet.

It puts iron in your diet

ironiStock/4kodiakJust one cup of cooked spinach contains more than 6mg of iron. That may not seem like a lot, but the National Institute of Health suggests at least 19mg per day for adult men and at least 17 mg for adult women. So that one cup covers about one third of your daily recommended servings, which is especially good news for vegetarians. Check out these other meat-free high-iron foods.

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It keeps your nails and hair healthy

hairiStock/XsandraNewsflash: You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on products to get healthy hair. Spinach has high amounts of vitamins A and C, both of which act as natural beauty products. Vitamin A helps produce a substance called sebum that lubricates our skin and hair. In addition to absorbing all that previously mentioned iron, vitamin C keeps hair growing strong and long, with the help of the protein collagen. Vitamin C and collagen also make a great team for strengthening your nails and, as a result, preventing annoying hang nails. Eating the right foods and adding these beauty tips to your routine can keep your nails healthier longer.

It has more potassium than a banana

bananaiStock/FloortjeReally? Really. If you compare 100 grams of spinach to 100 grams of bananas, the spinach has significantly more potassium (200 mg more, to be exact). Potassium is known to improve bone health and maintain normal digestive and muscular functions. Plus, it can help lower the risk of osteoporosis and stroke. These are signs of stroke that you could be ignoring.

It helps your eyesight

sightiStock/kwasny221Spinach has one of the most important vitamins for your eyes: lutein. This antioxidant can reduce your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Research shows that getting 10mg of lutein a day is a major health boost; one cup of cooked spinach has 20 mg. Who knew carrots weren’t the only food that improve your eyesight?

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