Flavonoids -- a phytonutrient with anti-cancer properties abundant in spinach -- have been shown to slow down cell division in human stomach and skin cancer cells. Furthermore,
spinach has shown significant protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer. Neoxanthin and violaxanthin are two anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls that play an important role in regulation of inflammation and are present in unusual amounts in spinach. The vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium present in spinach all serve as powerful antioxidants that combat the onset of osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. By inhibiting the angiotensin I-converting enzyme, peptides within spinach have been shown to effectively lower blood pressure. Both antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are especially plentiful in spinach and protect the eye from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. One cup of boiled spinach provides over 1000% of the RDA of vitamin K that can prevent excess activation of osteoclasts (the cells that break down bones), as well as promote the synthesis of osteocalcin, the protein that is essential for maintaining the strength and density of our bones. Vitamin K is a crucial component of the process called carboxylation, which produces the matrix Gla protein that directly prevents calcium from forming in tissue. Eating one cup of spinach contributes to this process that fights atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Spinach needs to be eaten steamed or at least slightly wilted, never raw. That is because spinach contains a chemical called oxalic acid which binds with iron and calcium and inhibits their absorption. For this reason, cooking the spinach is preferable to eating it raw.
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