Nutrition facts and recipes from one of nature's best superfoods.
Spinach for Heart & Cardiovascular Health
Eat more spinach. Your heart and arteries will thank you.
Spinach is rich in the mineral potassium and low in sodium. Potassium or potassium-rich diets are an effective first line of defence against high blood pressure / hypertension. Potassium salts are commonly recommended as a substitute of sodium chloride (common table/cooking salt) for people at risk of or suffering from high blood pressure. Potassium lowers blood pressure. Sodium raises blood pressure. Spinach, being high in potassium and low in sodium is therefore a clear choice for your cardiovascular health.
Folate or folic acid, abundant in spinach, is also known to reduce high blood pressure or hypertension. Folate also reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure in the first place. It serves as both a preventative and a treatment for hypertension. Folate has been shown to reduce levels of homocysteine, a blood component and inflammation marker that can damage blood vessels. Folate may also help blood vessels relax, improving blood flow. (American Heart Association's 58th Annual High Blood Pressure Research Conference, 2004)
Co-enzyme Q10, of which spinach is one of only two plant sources (the other is broccoli) plays an important role in cardiovascular and heart health. Co-Q10 is essential for muscle strength throughout the human body - and the heart is one of the body's muscles. In fact, patients on statin (cholesterol lowering) medications often suffer the side effect of weak and painful muscles because statins interfere with the human liver's natural ability to produce Co-Q10. Accordingly, Co-enzyme Q-10 is often recommended by doctors to be taken as a supplement alongside statin drugs. Wouldn't it be nice if the medical profession just recommended more spinach in the diet?
Specific to heart and cardiovascular health, there has been over 30 years of research studies into the role of Co-enzyme Q10 for both prevention and treatment. The research solidly establishes that Co-enzyme Q10, an antioxidant, has potential for use in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, particularly hypertension, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, and heart failure. (Coenzyme Q10 and cardiovascular disease: a review. J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2002 Jul;16(4):9-20)
Lutein, an antioxidant carotenoid also abundant in spinach, prevents or reduces atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is one of the major causes of heart attacks, so lutein is a valuable nutrient for the prevention of not just atherosclerosis, but also of heart attacks and strokes. ("Oxygenated Carotenoid Lutein and Progression of Early Atherosclerosis. The Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study" Circulation, June 19, 2001, Vol. 103, No. 24, pp. 2922-2927.)
Betaine, of which spinach is a rich dietary source, also reduces cardiovascular risks through its action of homocysteine metabolisation. (Effects of Betaine Intake on Plasma Homocysteine Concentrations and Consequences for Health. Current Drug Metabolism, Volume 6, Number 1, February 2005 , pp. 15-22(8))
Animal studies, believed to be likely to produce similar results in humans, show that spinach proteins (particularly in the presence of a low vegetable oil diet) lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The consequences for heart and cardiovascular health of lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels should be obvious to all. (J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1995 Oct;41(5):563-73.)
Even in the event of a heart attack, researchers now believe that spinach and other leafy green vegetables will minimise the tissue damage caused to the heart. The chemical nitrate, found in spinach and other leafy green vegetables, is credited with this protective effect. (November 12, 2007 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
Overall, spinach is a delicious and nutritious, multi-faceted defence against heart and cardiovascular diseases.
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