Oh, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.
I’m strong to the finish,
‘Cause I eats me spinach.
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.
If you are a 90s kid or older, chances are you grew up watching Popeye and his girlfriend Olive. Ever since the first broadcast release of the ever-popular cartoon series Popeye the Sailor Man in 1934, people have been obsessed with the notion of getting stronger by eating spinach. Parents jumped on the spinach bandwagon, using Popeye as the catalyst to spur and convince their children to eat the leafy greens served on their dinner plates.
But why spinach?
Makes You Stronger
While spinach was Popeye’s chosen superfood that unleashed the brute force in him, the entire spinach concept for the cartoon series materialised from a scientific blunder. As it turns out, German chemist Eric von Wolf did an early study on the iron content of spinach in 1870, but recorded by mistake that spinach contained 35 milligrams of iron per 100-gram serving instead of the accurate nutritional iron value of 3.5 milligrams.
However, despite the glaring blunder, spinach does have a positive impact on your muscles, but not because of its iron content. Rather, it is the nitrate found in spinach that attributes to muscle development, according to a recent study by scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
Daily movements in our body, such as lifting our belongings or slipping on our shoes, cause your muscles to contract and relax. The contraction of your muscles is reliant on the level of calcium present in your muscles. Nitrate enhances muscle concentration by increasing the concentration of two vital protein enzymes that are responsible for the calcium levels in the muscle. Therefore, the nitrate compounds in spinach essentially promote greater muscle density and contraction.
Additionally, spinach contains C0-Q10 — an antioxidant present in spinach — plays a critical role in strengthening muscles, particularly your heart muscle, which is constantly pumping and supplying blood to all parts of the body. Studies have shown that C0-Q10 is effective in treating and preventing cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and coronary heart disease, among others.
More often than not, doctors and health experts recommend adding significant leafy greens to your diet, and for good reason. The amount of protein found in spinach is remarkable for any vegetable and they are easily broken down by your body enzymes into amino acids for rapid absorption. Amino acids are not only critical for human growth and development, they also enhance your body’ ability to heal wounds and offer a quality boost to your entire metabolism, which results in the optimum function of your organs. Moreover, a recent study has found spinach to contain thylakoid, a compound that effectively curbs cravings and hunger pangs that can ultimately help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Spinach contains a wide variety of vital constituents that have been found to be a promising prospect in the prevention and treatment of various types of cancer, including lung, liver, prostate and bladder cancer. In addition, different nutrients and unique carotenoids in spinach such as chlorophyllin, tocopherol and folate, as well as violaxanthin and neoxanthin all directly contribute to minimise tumorous activity and the spread of cancer throughout the body.
Aids in Foetal Development
The folate that spinach contain is extremely vital for a growing foetus to ensure the proper development and healthy growth of its new nervous system. Defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate usually point to folate deficiency. Furthermore, spinach is loaded with vitamin A, which is highly recommended for pregnant women. Vitamin A is crucial for lung development of the foetus and can also be conveyed to the baby via breastfeeding, and therefore, spinach consumption is highly recommended post-pregnancy as well.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Spinach possesses a high level of potassium content and low amounts of sodium. This unique structure of minerals is highly beneficial if you are facing high blood pressure issues due to the fact that potassium lowers blood pressure while sodium increases it. The folate in spinach also helps to minimise the risk of hypertension and relaxes your blood vessels, while at the same time, regulate proper blood flow. Low blood pressure as well as a more relaxed vessel and artery can significantly reduce stress on your cardiovascular system. This, in turn, enhances the supply of oxygen to the system organs of your body for optimal functionality.
The Greatness of Spinach
Popeye’ s obsession for spinach is real, and for good reason. While the cartoon series was a deliberate attempt to convince children to consume spinach and grow up to be strong, adults should also follow suit. Spinach contains a wealth of nutrients including vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals and protein, all of which are essential for the human body. Love it or hate it, spinach is most certainly one veggie that you have to include in your daily diet.