Spinach: A Sinatra Super Food and Apparent Crowd-Pleaser!

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition, Super Foods
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Spinach: antioxidant-rich super food

Spinach has been on my list of super foods for as long as I can remember. 

Spinach is an excellent source of calcium, which not only contributes to bone and tooth health, but also helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Spinach also contains healthy amounts of vitamin C and vitamin E, which reduce the oxidative stress in your body and benefit the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. It is also rich in lutein, a carotenoid with antioxidant properties that is found in HDL or “good” cholesterol and may prevent LDL  cholesterol from oxidizing and promoting heart disease. 

The lutein found in spinach can also help protect you from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the United States today. Lutein helps to 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. 

Recipe Ideas from Dr. Sinatra Fans

Of course to get all these health benefits, you have to actually eat spinach, in both raw and cooked forms. (Some nutrients, like calcium, are better absorbed when spinach is cooked, but cooking also lowers levels of health-enhancing live enzymes.) But if the positive response on Facebook is any indication, that shouldn’t be a problem for many of you. 
 
For raw consumption, Facebook users Deborah H.S. and Sheila K. enthusiastically seconded my recommendation to substitute spinach for lettuce when making a salad. Kim P. takes the spinach salad up a notch by adding salmon (another one of my super foods) and a sash of balsamic vinegar. My wife loves garnishing a sandwich or pita pocket with fresh organic spinach.
 
Try any number of the delicious-sounding (although probably not as heart-healthy) suggestions from the Facebook community:
  • Susan C. suggested steaming fresh spinach and incorporating it into some brown wild rice, and top with almonds and Parmesan cheese. 
  • Zoe P.O. loves to sauté some onions and garlic with some spinach, mix it with feta cheese, kalamata olives, and then “smash it in the middle of a soft tortilla and grill it on the stove! YUM!!!” 
  • Sandi K.B. shared that my mention of spinach on Facebook inspired her to fold some into an omelet along with some goat cheese. 
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