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Nutrition facts and recipes from one of nature's best superfoods.

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Spinach Nutrients - Part Three
Macronutrients - Proteins & Amino Acids

Macronutrients (Proteins & Amino Acids) in Spinach

One of the many wonders of spinach is that it is very low in calories compared to most vegetables or other types of foods. In fact, 1 full cup of spinach (214 gm or 7.5 ounces) contains only 49 calories.

Protein: (6.0 gm per full cup) - Around 49% of the caloric value of spinach comes from the plant proteins. This makes spinach the richest known source of protein of all plant foods. One cup of spinach provides 12% of recommended daily requirements of protein.

While no single plant protein contains the full spectrum of amino acids (the components of protein), Spinach is amongst the broadest of the plant source proteins. It contains the following amino acids - with the average quantity per cup:

Essential Amino Acids (ie must be supplied by diet. These cannot be manufactured from other components by any human organs):

Tryptophan 81.3 mg - A precursor to niacin (see Vitamins) and also serotonin. Tryptophan is essential to prevent or treat depression.

Threonine 257 mg - Acts as a transport agent for phosphorus and phosoproteins. It helps maintain protein balance and is a component in the formation of collagen and elastin. Threonine is a necessary part also of the central nervous system, skeletal muscle and heart muscle. A deficiency can result in extreme irritability in all age groups, and depression and immunosuppression in the elderly.

Leucine 469 mg - Necessary for nitrogen balance in adults and growth management in infants. Leucine promotes the healing of bones, skin and muscle tissue and the control of blood sugar levels. If taken in excess (such as in many grains - particularly corn), it can interfere with the uptake or absorption of Vitamin B3, causing Niacin deficiency symptoms.

Lysine 368 mg - Assists in calcium absorption and hydrogen balance. Helps produce collagen, antibodies, hormones, and enzymes. Helps build muscle tissue and repair injured tissues. May help prevent or treat Bell's Palsy, migranes and virus infections.

Methionine 111 mg - Precursor for the various other non-essential amino acids including cystine, taurine, and glutathione. Plays a role in formulating RNA and DNA. Also necessary for the absorpotion of selenium (see minerals). Acts as an antioxidant, though breaks down into a strong oxidant if there is also a Vitamin B6 deficiency. (Spinach, thankfully, contains B6.)

Phenylalanine 272 mg - Converts to Tyrosine in the human body. In the brain, it produces hormone-like neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) that control memory & learning, depression and appetite. Acts also as a painkiller for conditions such as menstruation, migranes and arthritic inflammation.

Valine 338 mg - In conjunction with various other amino acids, Valine is involved in muscle metabolism, tissue repair and nitrogen balance. Therapeutic uses include treatment for various mental disorders, nervousness, emotional upsets and insomnia.

Arginine 340 mg - Essential for children, though may not always be essential in adults. Necessary for proper function of the liver in the processing of fats. Also aids in liver detoxification. Arginine enhances the immune system and is believed that it may help raise male sperm counts. It assists in wound healing by scar formation and has been known to assist in retarding cancers and tumours.

Semi-Essential Amino Acids (ie although these can be manufactured by the human body, they are generally poorly manufactured and dietary sources are usually still necessary to provide sufficient to meet human biological needs):

Histidine 133 mg - Essential for children, though may not always be essential in adults. Histidine lowers blood pressure, relaxes blood vessels and otherwise assists in cardiac and circulatory functions. It binds with copper, iron and other heavy metals to detoxify overloads. Histidine maintains the myelin sheath (brain nerves) and auditory nerves. Deficiency can produce deafness.

Isoleucine 308 mg - Different scientific opinions exist as to whether Isoleucine is an essential or semi-essential amino acid. It plays a primary role in red blood cell formation and regulating blood sugar, energy levels and hydrogen balance. A deficiency commonly exists in mentally and physically ill patients, though it is uncertain whether this is causal of co-morbidity.

Non-Essential Amino Acids (ie readily manufactured by the human body. Dietary sources are still beneficial, though not crucial, to human nutrition.)

Alanine 297 mg - Main function is in the metabolism of tryptophan and pyridoxine. It also assists in the metabolism of sugars and thus providing energy for muscles, the brain and the central nervous system. Alanine also helps to produce antibodies and thus boost the immune system and is now believed to also play a role in prostate health.

Aspartic acid 505 mg - Aids in the formation of RNA and DNA. It also protects the liver by detoxify excess ammonia and other toxins from the bloodstream. Aspartic Acid transports minerals throughout the human cellular structure, increases stamina and fights fatigue. It is also thought to help protect against some of the damaging effects of radiation.

Cystine 72.7 mg - Assists in protein formation and wound healing. Promotes healing of respiratory conditions. Has detoxification properties and may assist prevent damage from consumption of alcohol and smoking.

Glutamic acid 723 mg - A precursor to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a calming compound manufactured by the central nervous system. Glutamic Acid is also one of only two substances the brain uses as fuel (the other being glucose). It is a source ingredient for the hydrochloric acid in your digestive system. It increases the function of neurons in the nervous system and helps correct many personality disorders. Additionally, it assists to metabolise fats and sugars.

Glycine 282 mg - Converts to serine. Glycine retards muscle degeneration and is necessary for central nervous system function and prostate health. It is believed to help prevent bipolar disorder and epilepsy, prevents and treats certain eye muscle diseases, is involved in collagen production and the release of energy.

Proline 235 mg - A precursor to hydoxyproline, though only in combination with Vitamin C. Hydroxyproline is utilised by the body in the formation and maintenance of collagen, tendons, ligaments and the heart muscle.

Serine 218 mg - Aids in the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies, thus boosting your immune system. Serine metabolises into numerous other substances that are used to manufature neurotransmitters and stabilise cell membranes. Serine is also necessary for the metabolism of fats and fatty acids.

Tyrosine 227 mg - Tyrosine is important for the proper function of several glands, most particularly the thyoid, the pituitary and the adrenal glands. It is a precursor in the formation of hormones made from these glands and also needed for the metabolism of various neurotransmitters related to healthy brain function. Deficiency results in mood disorders. It acts as an appetite suppressant and reduces body fat. It furthermore helps to form melanin for skin and hair pigment.

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