The health benefits of spinach

Doctors may not recommend their patients take dietary advice from cartoons, but people looking to eat healthy could do worse than to follow the example set by Popeye. The beloved, nearly century-old, musclebound cartoon sailor often credited his incredible strength to spinach, a nutrient-rich green vegetable that can benefit the body in myriad ways.

A 2010 study from researchers at Mahidol University in Bangkok found that children increased their vegetable consumption after watching Popeye cartoons. And while adults can certainly follow suit and watch more Popeye if they need motivation to eat right, many may only need to learn just how spinach affects their body to start including more of it in their diets.

  • Spinach is good for your bones. The National Osteoporosis Foundation notes that green foods, including kale, spinach and brussel sprouts, are great sources of vitamin K and calcium, each of which promotes healthy bones. Spinach alone wonÕt be enough to prevent broken bones or osteoporosis, but when coupled with exercise and an overall healthy diet, spinach can be a key component to keeping bones healthy and reducing risk for fractures.
  • Spinach can help fight off viruses. The world received a crash course in immunology in 2020, when the global COVID-19 pandemic changed life as the world knew it, seemingly in the blink of an eye. As measures to prevent the spread of the virus took hold, individuals looked for ways to bolster their immune systems. Leafy green vegetables, including spinach, are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that strengthen the bodyÕs immune response. For example, vitamin A is fat-soluble vitamin thatÕs vital for immune system function, and spinach is loaded with it. In fact, a single cup of cooked spinach provides men and women with more than the recommended daily amounts of vitamin A as advised by the Institute of Medicine.
  • Spinach promotes a healthy heart. Spinach is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber, making it a heart-healthy food worthy of addition to anyoneÕs diet. Spinach is especially rich in folate, which research has shown promotes the growth of healthy red blood cells necessary for a healthy heart.
  • Spinach can benefit your eyes. Spinach is high in the antioxidant lutein, which has been linked to eye health. Lutein naturally absorbs UV blue light, which is the most harmful wavelength of sunlight. But itÕs important that people recognize that uncooked spinach tends to be the most effective way to consume it and still benefit from lutein, the effects of which may be minimized when the spinach is cooked.

Whether they eat spinach thanks to the influence of a beloved cartoon character or after reading about the leafy green vegetableÕs many health benefits, people who include spinach in their diets can reap a host of rewards.