Raw spinach linked to 5 major health benefits
(NaturalHealth365) Raw spinach is one of the best natural sources of lutein, and this naturally-occurring carotenoid has been studied for years for its ability to help protect vision. You see, carotenoids are found – in large amounts – in the macula of your eye, while smaller amounts are found in your optic nerve, retina, and lens.
With the help of some other antioxidants, lutein works to block visible blue light, which is known to result in damage to your eyes, protecting your vision and warding off macular degeneration.
However, in the past few years, studies have found that previous research has only scratched the surface of the health benefits lutein offers. In fact, one analysis found that lutein offers some significant reductions in the risk for several cardiometabolic conditions like, stroke and heart disease.
Lutein can protect tissues from both inflammation and oxidative stress, which seems to be the reason it offers several important health benefits.
Key substance inside raw spinach goes far beyond eye health to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
Although lutein is yellow, it’s generally found in dark, leafy green vegetables, such as spinach.
One of the key benefits it offers is the ability to reduce the occurrence of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which are both top causes of blindness. However, more recently, researchers have found that the benefits of lutein go far beyond eye health.
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In fact, a systematic review and analysis of 71 different articles found several additional health benefits.
Studies showed that individuals with higher intakes of lutein had a 12% lower risk of heart disease, as well as a 25% lower risk of metabolic syndrome and an 18% lower risk of having a stroke. Lutein has also been shown to play an essential role in brain health from infancy on.
In addition, aging adults who have mild cognitive impairment have also been found to have lower concentrations of lutein.
Preparing spinach to maximize the level of beneficial lutein
So now that we know the multiple health benefits of eating spinach and getting more lutein, what’s the best way to prepare spinach to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits? A recent study investigated common preparation methods to determine which options offer the best results.
One finding – if spinach is cooked at high temperatures, much of the lutein degrades in just two minutes. The best choice is to avoid heating spinach at all.
If you want to get as much lutein as possible, try making a smoothie that includes some added fat from yogurt, cream, or milk. Chopping spinach into small pieces, as is done in a smoothie, allows for more lutein to be released from spinach leaves.
Adding the fat from organic avocados or coconuts increases lutein solubility in the fluid, so your body is better able to absorb it when you eat it. Having said that, chopping spinach up and adding it to salads along with a salad dressing – that includes some fat – is another excellent option.
Editor’s note: My wife’s favorite smoothie recipe is: one cup of cold spring water, 1/2 an organic avocado, teaspoon of organic almond butter, 1/2 cup of frozen organic blueberries and one cup of organic baby spinach. And, if you want extra sweetness: add 1/2 of a frozen organic banana or 1 organic date.
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