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Healthy Eating

The #1 best vegetable to boost metabolism, says Dietitian

Spinach is a delicious and versatile leafy green that’s high in iron and magnesium, two nutrients linked to a healthy metabolism.

The number of calories you need to survive and thrive depends on much more than you might think. Age, gender, muscle mass, activity level, and stress levels can make your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) soar or stall.

While some people seem blessed with a fast and active metabolism, eating whatever they want without gaining an ounce, not everyone has this natural superpower. If all you have to do is look at a slice of pizza to gain weight, there’s good news—you may be able to speed up your metabolism by adding more of the right foods to your diet.

Certain foods, especially leafy greens, have the right combination of nutrients to help increase your metabolism. And the only work involved is finding tasty ways to enjoy them! Leafy greens’ secret energy-burning power comes from their high levels of iron and magnesium. Spinach is a delicious and versatile leafy green that’s high in iron and magnesium, whether you enjoy it raw or cooked, two nutrients linked to a healthy metabolism.

One cup of cooked spinach has 36% of the daily value (DV) for iron and 37% of the DV for magnesium. If you’d rather enjoy your spinach raw, two cups will give you 9% of the DV for iron and 11% of the DV for magnesium.

1. Spinach Nutrition Facts

Spinach is a high-fiber food that can add volume, color, and texture to your favorite recipes. Whether eaten cooked or raw, this leafy green vegetable offers a nutritious punch without adding any fat or natural sugars to your diet.

One cup of raw spinach contains:

7 calories
0.86 g of protein
29.7 mg of calcium
0.81 g of iron
24 mg of magnesium
167 mg of potassium
141 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A
58 mcg of folate

Spinach also contains vitamin K, fiber, phosphorus, and thiamine. Most of the calories in this vegetable come from protein and carbohydrates.

Carbs: Most of the carbohydrates in spinach are from fiber, making it a very filling vegetable. Along with other leafy greens, it may be considered a “free” food on a low-carbohydrate diet because it provides fiber while being low in calories.

Spinach also ranks close to zero on the glycemic index. This means that it will have minimal impact on your blood sugar levels.

Fats: There is no fat and no cholesterol in spinach. But adding a little fat to your spinach-containing meal may help your body absorb more of its beta-carotene—especially if the spinach is raw or in the form of a steamed puree.

Protein: There are 2 grams of protein in three cups of fresh spinach. That means spinach has almost as much protein as it does carbohydrates.

Iron: Spinach is a nutritious and plant-based source of iron, a mineral that is crucial in transporting oxygen in the blood. Iron is also important for maintaining healthy pregnancies, supporting the immune system, and aiding digestive processes.

A person can increase their body’s iron absorption from plant-based products by consuming them alongside foods rich in vitamin C.

Calcium: Spinach contains approximately 30 mg of calcium per cup. However, the body absorbs this less easily than dairy sources of calcium. Spinach also has a high oxalate contentTrusted Source, which binds to calcium and makes it difficult for our bodies to use.

Magnesium: One cup of spinach contains 24 mg of magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for energy metabolism, maintaining muscle and nerve function, regular heart rhythm, a healthy immune system, and maintaining blood pressure. Magnesium also plays a part in numerous biochemical reactions in the body.

Calories: There are approximately 20 calories in three cups of spinach, or just under 7 calories per cup. That makes its calorie count similar to that of kale, which provides 7.2 calories per cup (raw). Spinach is high in fiber while also being low in calories and fat. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium, making it a great addition to a nutritious meal plan.

Plant compounds: Spinach contains many important plant compounds, including: lutein, kaempferol, nitrates, quercetin, zeaxanthin. These can play important roles in the body, from maintaining eye healthTrusted Source to reducing inflammation.

The #1 best vegetable to boost metabolism, says Dietitian

2. How foods high in iron and magnesium affect metabolism and weight loss?

Iron is essential to several reactions in the body affecting energy metabolism. If you’ve ever had low iron levels, you most likely felt sluggish and tired most of the time. One of the ways low iron levels can work against you is by interfering with the metabolism-boosting effects of your thyroid hormones. This leads to a lack of appetite and a lack of energy.

In one study, researchers in Turkey treated 21 women with iron deficiency anemia. After six months, the women had significant reductions in weight and BMI, suggesting that treating low iron levels may increase the metabolic rate. The study was small and more research is needed to determine the relationship between iron levels and weight loss.

Along with increasing the number of calories your body burns, treating an iron deficiency can also increase your hunger levels—which in some cases may also lead to weight gain.

Magnesium is a mineral essential to energy production and metabolism; without enough of it, your body can’t effectively turn the food you eat into energy (calories burned).

It’s estimated that up to half of the U.S. population has insufficient intakes of magnesium. A 2014 meta-analysis found an inverse relationship between magnesium intake and metabolic syndrome (the combination of metabolism-related diseases such as high cholesterol, hypertension, insulin resistance, and obesity). The more magnesium people ate, the less likely they were to have metabolic syndrome.

3. Health Benefits of Spinach

Lower Blood Pressure

Spinach is rich in several minerals that your body needs, including potassium. Consuming foods that are high in potassium helps lower your blood pressure.

Healthy Eyes

Spinach is an excellent source of lutein, an antioxidant known to protect against age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies have found that people who take lutein supplements are at a lower risk for macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness.

Cataracts are an eye condition caused by oxidation of the lens of the eye. Studies have shown that lutein appears to prevent ultraviolet damage to your lenses. One study found that women who had a higher dietary intake of lutein were 23% less likely to develop cataracts than those who had a low-lutein diet.

Improved Cognition

Lutein has also been shown to help preserve cognitive abilities. Studies of older adults have shown that those with higher lutein levels exhibited better verbal fluency, memory, reasoning ability, and processing speed than those with low amounts of the nutrient.

Healthy Bones

Vitamin K is essential to bone health and growth, and spinach is packed with it. Eating just one cup of spinach fulfills the recommended daily amount of Vitamin K your body needs.

Healthy Skin

The vitamin A in spinach is used by your body to grow tissues, including the largest organ in your body, skin. Not only does Vitamin A support the skin’s immune system (preventing disease and damage), but it also helps skin stay hydrated, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Source: Eatthis/Webmd!

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