Most people don’t realize it, but spinach is an excellent source of calcium—the mineral most famous for boosting bone and tooth health but also known to help maintain healthy blood pressure.
Spinach also brims with the important antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E, which reduce the oxidative stress in your body and benefit the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. And this leafy green nutritional powerhouse is also rich in the antioxidant lutein, which is found in HDL or “good” cholesterol and may prevent LDL or “bad” cholesterol from oxidizing and promoting heart disease.
In addition to the above laundry list of health benefits, spinach will also help protect you from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the United States today.
That’s because the heart-healthy lutein in spinach also helps protect the delicate macular cells in the eye from the effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. And studies have confirmed that a diet high in spinach and other lutein-rich green vegetables might also reduce the risk of cataracts by protecting against free radical damage in the epithelium and cortex of the lens of the eye.
Getting More Green
Incorporating spinach into meals is easy to do, as it makes a great substitute for lettuce. So swap out the lettuce in your next salad or sandwich and slip in a bunch of spinach instead. Spinach also adds great flavor and variety to soups. Or try this simple spinach side dish recipe below. (Get more heart-healthy recipes.) Just make sure that whenever you cook spinach, or any veggie for that matter, have at least a mouthful or two of it raw while you prepare it, since you’ll get more health-enhancing live enzymes from eating it raw.
Spinach with Pine Nuts and Garlic
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. spinach
- 1 Tbsp. pine nuts
Heat the olive oil with the garlic in a large frying pan over medium heat until the garlic is golden. Toss in the spinach and cook several minutes or until wilted. Top with pine nuts and serve.
Makes 2 servings.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): Calories 140, Fat 10 g, Sodium 180 mg, Carbs 10 g, Protein 8 g
WATCH: Dr. Sinatra's Top 12 Healing Foods
Video courtesy of HeartMDInstitute