Published On: Tue, Aug 8th, 2017
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Eat More Spinach

Recently, I’ve made some effort to eating healthy.  Well, healthier than before.  Whereas I used to drink several bottles of Mountain Dew every day, it’s being replaced by water.  I got a 40 oz vacuum sealed water bottle and make it a goal to drink 80 oz minimum each day.  I’ve also significantly reduced my gluten intake.  One day I’ll write about gluten and why we really shouldn’t bombard our systems with it.

But the most dramatic change for me is eating salads for lunch.  Never, ever, in my life, would I think I’d enjoy salads.  Every single day.

There’s a Brown Bag by the job, and with their create your own salad option, it’s not so bad.  My usual are sugared pecans, craisins, cucumbers, carrots, and for the leaf, surprisingly, I go with spinach.

I’ve been reading a lot about eating healthy.  And I wish I had it in me to regurgitate everything I’ve read to really understand why the change in eating habits.  But the amount of information out there can be overwhelming to digest, let alone repeat in a coherent way for others to understand.  All I can really do is recommend some books, and advise people not to get caught up in 400 word blog posts that focus on a single topic without really addressing how nutrition works.

Of course, that’s exactly what I’m about to do with spinach.

I’m not going to pretend to be able to explain the significance of eating spinach, though. I’m just going to copy-paste some stuff from those same blogs I’m wary about. The information is useful though, but I highly recommend it complement the reading of books, specifically T. Colin Campbell’s book Whole. You’ll get a much better idea of why eating whole foods with an abundance of vitamins and minerals is far superior to supplementing with pills. Here’s what you’ll find in spinach:

It is important to underscore the amazing versatility of spinach! Consider these results from our WHFoods rating system: spinach ranks as our Number 1 source of magnesium and iron (both minerals); our Number 2 source of vitamins B2 and B6 (both water-soluble vitamins), our Number 3 source of folate (another water-soluble vitamin), and our Number 2 source of vitamin K (a fat-soluble vitamin). Spinach is also our Number 2 source of vitamin E, our Number 3 source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin A, our Number 5 source of manganese, and our Number 8 source of copper.

Sounds like a top shelf multi-vitamin pill, huh? One of the differences, though, is that eating spinach also provides what can’t be bottled up in a pill.

Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives spinach its renowned green color. Inside the cells of the spinach plant, the places where chlorophyll gets stored are called chloroplasts, and their membranes play an active role in converting sunlight into energy (through a process called photosynthesis). These chloroplast-associated membranes are called thylakoid membranes, or simply thylakoids. Because fresh spinach is such a rich source of chlorophyll (and actually our Number 1 source of chlorophyll at WHFoods, containing about 24 milligrams of chlorophyll per cup), it has often been used in research studies as a source for thylakoids and their potential health benefits. Several recent studies in this area have shown thylakoid-rich extracts from spinach to delay stomach emptying, decrease levels of hunger-related hormones like ghrelin, and increase levels of satiety-related hormones like glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Exactly what these changes mean is not yet clear, but researchers hope to eventually determine whether routine intake of spinach can help lower risk of obesity partly because of these thylakoid-related processes. It is also worth noting in this context that several prescription drugs currently used to help treat type 2 diabetes (for example, albiglutide, exanatide, dulaglutide, and liraglutide) work by imitating the activity of GLP-1. For this reason, future studies may find a relationship not only between risk of obesity and spinach intake but risk of type 2 diabetes as well.

Ok, probably too many scientific terms in that last quote. In layman’s terms, eating spinach as is benefits the body in more ways than I would’ve believed had I not read so many books saying just that. I mean, it’s only a leaf, right?

Whatever.

Posting about healthy eating isn’t my forte so I’ll leave that to the nutritionists. Just wanted to share that spinach has made it to my daily routine, and somehow, I actually enjoy it.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.

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