Calorie for calorie, green leafy vegetables like spinach have more nutrients than almost any other food on the planet! Spinach belongs to the same family as beets and chard, the Chenopodiaceae family. Spinach originated in southwestern Asia or Persia as a wild plant, and has been cultivated in China and the Middle East for at least 2,000 years. It’s been used for centuries as a very important medicinal plant and was thought to have amazing abilities to restore energy, increase vitality, and improve blood quality; science today has backed up many of these old claims. For example, spinach has twice as much iron as other greens and is one of the most alkalizing foods, which helps to regulate the body's pH levels.
Spinach is a very rich source of lutein, a very important carotenoid for eye health, helping to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Lutein is also a strong antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals and prevent many diseases, including cancer and heart disease, two of the top killers of our modern day. In addition, spinach is rich in chlorophyll, which helps to cleanse the blood and is great for helping to prevent cancer. Scientists are even creating spinach extracts to try and help prevent and cure cancer. They’ve actually found at least thirteen different flavonoids in spinach that are strong anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds.
Spinach provides great amounts of vitamins A and C that are important antioxidants to help prevent cholesterol from being oxidized; oxidized cholesterol sticks to our arteries and blood vessels and leads to heart attacks and/or stroke. Spinach also has good levels of magnesium, an important mineral for heart health and healthy blood pressure levels.
One cup of spinach has only 41 calories, but those 41 calories provide an extremely high amount of nutrients. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, K, and E, carotenes, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, and quercetin. Actually, spinach is one of the best food sources of vitamin K, which is an important vitamin for bone health. Vitamin K actually activates osteocalcin in the body, and this action helps to solidly anchor calcium inside the bone. So even if you are getting sufficient amounts of calcium, it won't be sticking to the bone if you aren't getting enough vitamin K, and could actually do some harm by calcifying in other places in the body. One cup of fresh spinach has 200% of the Daily Value of vitamin K. However, spinach is also a great source of calcium, which makes spinach a great alternative food for those who don't or can't consume dairy.
Fresh spinach should be medium to dark green, fresh looking, not wilted, and free from damage or obvious signs of decay. Fresh spinach is best stored in a loosely packed, sealed plastic bag in the fridge. Do not wash spinach before storing it in the fridge, as doing so will cause it to spoil more quickly.