Ever since we were little, we were taught how healthy it is to eat spinach thanks to Popeye. We all know that this plant is rich in iron, thus good for our blood, but did you know that it can also lower the risk of prostate cancer with men and breast cancer with women?
An in vitro study conducted in Japan showed that spinach contains the most volatile anti-cancer carotenoid or terpenoid available in food. In the lab, researchers compared neoxanthin, found greatly in spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, to 15 other terpenoids or carotenoids found in food that inhibit prostate cancer. The other 15 carotenoids tested included lycopene, a known prostate cancer fighting compound found in tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes like tomato sauce, and beta-carotene.
It was determined that only neoxanthin was capable of annihilating 100 percent of one type of prostate cancer cells, and 89% and 85% of the other two types of prostate cancer cells within 72 hours. This study has proven to be objective because neoaxinthin outdid fucoxanthin found in brown seaweed, which came in second to neoaxinthin among the 15 carotenoids.
It was also shown that eating spinach regularly decreased the chance of prostate cancer by 82%. Strangely, only spinach neoxanthin is highly protective against prostate cancer even though it’s present in other dark green leafy veggies.
As for breast cancer, an earlier study of adult women living in New England in the late 1980s determined that women who ate carrots or spinach twice a week had a 44% less risk of developing breast cancer. Another study showed that spinach also lowers the risk of ovarian cancer.
Furthermore, spinach contains a lot of luetin and zeaxanthin, which is an eyesight protector and builder, and beta-carotenes, which are precursors to vitamin A.
Spinach and other dark green leafy veggies are also great sources of folate, or vitamin B9. Besides B9, spinach also contains biotine (B7), choline (B4), B3 (niacin), B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and pantothenic acid (B5).
Other important ingredients in spinach are:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
World’s Healthiest Foods site ranks spinach with a higher nutrient dense rating than most plant foods because of its unique combinations of nutrients.
The only downside with spinach is its oxalic acid or oxalates, that can form kidney stones in people who urinate little, especially if that one is on a high protein diet.
There are various ways of preparing spinach. The World’s Healthiest Foods recommends boiling spinach for a very short period, even a minute. Don’t use the water where the spinach was boiling as it is highly acidic.
By adding butter or olive oil with spinach it will provide fats that optimize nutrient absorption.