Superfood Series: Popeye’s Secret

“I’m Popeye the Sailor Man. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man. I’m strong to the finich cause I eats my spinach. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.” 

As kids (and adults) Popeye taught us the importance of spinach for muscle strength. Unsurprisingly, the green leafy vegetable also promotes heart health. Due to its nutrient-dense nature, fresh spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals that can aid in your journey towards a healthy heart.

Anti-inflammatory foods, like spinach, strengthen your arteries and help protect against heart disease. Spinach contains folate, a B-vitamin that reduces inflammation by decreasing the formation of homocysteines in the body. Similarly, the beta-carotene compounds and vitamin C found in spinach act as antioxidants and protect the body from harmful free radicals.

Spinach contains co-enzyme Q10, which strengthens your heart muscle and is commonly used in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Spinach and broccoli are the only two plant sources of this vitamin-like compound, suggesting the importance of incorporating spinach into your heart healthy diet.

Spinach adds nutrition and color to a variety of common dishes, such as sandwiches, salads, casseroles or soups. Also, spinach is delicious when steamed and sautéed with olive oil and your choice of a nut, such as slivered almonds and pine nuts. Add a little onion or garlic for an extra kick.

Disclaimer: If you are currently taking blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin), consult your registered dietitian before incorporating spinach into your diet, as green leafy vegetables may interact with the medication.

 By Laura Oliver, MS, RD

 

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