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4 ways spinach keeps you healthy

Spinach may be the best kep secret in the produce department. It’s loaded with nutrients, including many antioxidant powerhouses. It’s rich in carotenoids, and is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, folate,a nd vitamins A, C, and K. It’s also a dieter’s dream.

 

* MAINTAINS YOUR VISION - The most common causes of losing eyesight in your senior years are macular degeneration which affects your retina and cataracts which affect your lens. Spinach may help ward off both these sight stealers.

Your eye’s retina is extremely rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Experts believe these antioxidants protect your eye from light damage and also support the blood vessels to your retina. Boosting the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in your body can keep your retina strong and efficient - able to fight off the damage that may cause macular degeneration. In fact, research found that people who took in more carotenoids decreased their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration by 43 percent. Spinach and collard greens, both containing high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, were the foods most closely linked to this protection.

Damage from free radicals may also cause cataracts, a clouding of your lens. But once again, lutein and zeaxanthin come to the rescue. A 10 year study of 36,000 men discovered those who are the most spinach were protected.

For the best vision defence, eat these leafy greens at least twice a week - more if possible. And if you want to get the most lutein from your spinach, do what Southern cooks have been doing for years - add a little fat (olive oil). Although too much is bad for you, a small amount of fat will really increase how much lutein your body can absorb.

* KEEP YOUR BONES STRONG - Just one-half cup of raw spinach a day could help you cross the finish line. If you want to keep your bones strong and cut your risk of suffering a hip fracture, get more vitamin K in your diet. And spinach is a great way to do it.

Just be careful if you suddenly begin eating lots of leafy vegetables while on the blood-thinning drug warfarin. Your doctor may have prescribed this drug to prevent blood clotting if you’re at risk for stroke or certain heart problems. Too much vitamin K could seriously affect the way warfarin works. Eat spinach and other leafy greens in moderation and talk to your doctor about any major changes in your diet.

* REPAIR HEART DAMAGE - High levels of a substance called homocysteine in your blood means you’re more likely to develop heart disease. Fortunately, folate, a B vitamin, can help lower levels of heart-damaging homocysteine. Studies have found that supplements and folate-fortified cereals will do the job, but if you prefer more natural sources, spinach and other leafy greens are a good choice. Fresh is best when it comes to folate since cooking and processing tend to drain this important nutrient from foods.

* RISK OF CANCER - It’s common knowledge. Eat your fruits and vegetables and you’ll lower your risk of cancer. Generally, spinach is a smart side dish to fight all types of cancer, but experts believe it’s particularly powerful against these cancers - colon cancer, stomach cancer and breast cancer.

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