Calorie for calorie green leafy foods like spinach provide more nutrients than almost any other food on the planet. With a ORAC rating of 1200 it is the second highest rating next to kale. Spinach is one of the best sources of vitamin K, which is extremely important for building strong bones. Vitamin K activates a compound called osteocalcin that anchors calcium molecules inside the bone. Making sure you get enough vitamin K is a good way to make sure that calcium gets into the bones. 1 cup of spinach gives you 200% of the RDA for vitamin K.
A carotenoid in spinach also helps fight prostate cancer. It does this in two ways. It causes cancer cells to self destruct and it stops them from replicating.
Spinach is also high in vitamin A and vitamin C. These are important antioxidants that stop cholesterol from becoming oxidized. Cholesterol is only a problem when it becomes oxidized. 1 cup provides 294% of the RDA for vitamin A.
Spinach also contains folic acid which lowers a dangerous chemical in the body called homocysteine which is harmful to blood vessels and puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and dementia. It also contains magnesium which helps lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease at the same time.
The vitamin C and beta carotene in spinach help prevent colon cancer by protecting the colon cells from free radicals. These vitamins help fight inflammation and may help protect the brain from age related declines that we see in brain function.
In a 2005 study showed that rats that ate spinach and blueberries lost a lot less brain cells after stroke and recovered significantly more than rats that did not eat them. The dosage was low-2% of the diet!
Spinach is also a great source of iron, which is important for women.
Last but not least spinach contains lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid that protects against eye disease and vision loss, like the kind from cataracts and macular degeneration. Important note: Lutein cannot be absorbed unless fat is present. So it is recommended that you add a little fat to them when you eat them. You can sautee it with some coconut oil or top with a little olive oil in a fresh spinach salad. It is also great for dieting and you can eat as much as you want of it.
Spinach is one of those things that you should buy organic. In 2003 The Environmental Working Group listed spinach in the list of the top 12 foods that are contaminated with pesticides.