National Spinach Day: Examining Popeye's Favorite Superfood

Remember this?

"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man / I'm strong to the finich, 'cause I eats me spinach…"

Today (March 26th), we're quoting the world's best-loved animated sailor in honor of National Spinach Day! Spinach, a leafy green known for its nutritional powerhouse properties, has long been celebrated for its health benefits, from boosting muscle strength to improving bone health. National Spinach Day honors this versatile vegetable, which has graced tables worldwide in various dishes, from fresh salads to hearty stews and smoothies.

A wide variety of essential vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds occur naturally in spinach, and often work together to provide an array of health benefits. Below are a few of the most important ways a diet rich in spinach can help us maintain our health:

Diabetes Management

Spinach contains an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which studies suggest lowers glucose levels, increases insulin sensitivity, and prevents oxidative, stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

Circulation, Pregnancy, and Immune Support

A half-cup of raw spinach contains 34% of a person's recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. This is important, as Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, a mineral naturally found in spinach. Iron is crucial in transporting oxygen to the blood and for maintaining healthy pregnancies, supporting the immune system, and aiding digestion.

Cancer Prevention

Spinach and other green vegetables contain chlorophyll, a pigment that gives plants their green color. Research suggests chlorophyll may have anti-cancer properties, and that people who eat diets rich in green vegetables may have a lower incidence of developing cancer.

Asthma Management

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the severity of asthma symptoms and lessen the risk of attacks. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and Beta Carotene, may all assist lung function. Spinach contains all three.

Lowering Blood Pressure

Due to its high potassium content, spinach may help reduce or manage high blood pressure. Potassium can help reduce the effects of sodium in the body. Additionally, a low potassium intake might be as potent a risk factor for developing high blood pressure as a high sodium intake.

Promoting Eye Health & Reducing Inflammation

Spinach contains plant compounds, including Lutein, Kaempferol, Nitrates, Quercetin, and Zeaxanthin - each of which plays an important role in the body, from maintaining eye health to reducing inflammation.

Metabolism & Energy, Heart Health, Muscle & Nerve Function

One cup of spinach contains 24 mg of Magnesium, which is vital for energy metabolism, maintaining muscle and nerve function, regular heart rhythm, a healthy immune system, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

Bone Health

Scientists have found a link between low intakes of vitamin K and a higher risk of bone fracture. Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health. It acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption, and may reduce the amount of calcium that leaves the body in urine.

Promotes digestive regularity

Spinach is high in fiber and water, both of which help prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.

Healthy skin and hair

Spinach features large quantities of vitamin A, which moderates oil production in the skin pores and hair follicles to moisturize the skin and hair. A buildup of this oil can lead to acne. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Spinach and other leafy greens high in vitamin C are crucial for building and maintaining collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Additionally, iron deficiency is a common source of hair loss, which a person can help prevent with a diet of sufficient iron-rich foods, such as spinach.

It's not just Popeye who will be 'strong to the finich' on National Spinach Day. In fact, anyone who chooses to celebrate the day by consuming some of this leafy green plant will get to join in on the health benefits as well!