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What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Spinach, Science Says

It's time to load up on the leafy green.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

As if you really needed another reason to love spinach, we're about to give you five. This leafy green is a staple in most fridges due to its incredible versatility—use it in salads, smoothies, sauteed as a side for dinner, folded into pasta, stuffed into chicken, the list goes on and on.

The endless uses for spinach aren't the only reason why it's such a beloved veggie. Spinach is also touted for being rich in health-promoting nutrients, especially for your heart and eyes. Not to mention, it's low in calories, yet full of flavor, and even packs a little bit of protein.

Below, you'll see just five things that could happen to your body when you eat spinach regularly. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Lower your risk of heart disease.

sauteed spinach

In general, leafy greens such as spinach and kale are both great foods for supporting heart health. Spinach contains plant-based omega-3 fatty acids which help to fight the inflammation that's at the root of heart disease, among other chronic diseases. A 2017 study found that lutein, an antioxidant that's abundant in spinach, can also help to reduce inflammation in people with coronary artery disease.

A follow-up study revealed that the best way for the body to absorb the naturally occurring lutein in spinach is to chop it up in a smoothie and combine it with either full-fat milk or yogurt. As it turns out, the inflammation-fighting antioxidant is best absorbed when it's consumed with fat.

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Protect eye health.

Woman's face

Speaking of lutein, the antioxidant has also been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss in people age 50 and over. As of right now, there is no cure or treatment for AMD, so taking measures earlier in life can help to prevent its onset. What better reason to eat a big spinach salad topped with walnuts, strawberries, and balsamic vinaigrette?

Manage blood pressure levels.

checking blood pressure

Eating Popeye's favorite vegetable may in fact help to lower your blood pressure levels. This largely because there are naturally-occurring nitrates in spinach (fun fact, they're also found in beets and arugula) that may open up your blood vessels and improve blood flow. In turn, this takes some pressure off of the heart and allows blood pressure levels to drop.

There's evidence to prove it. One 2016 study revealed that after healthy adults drank a spinach beverage, beetroot juice, or an arugula-based drink, their blood pressure levels significantly lowered within just a few hours.

Reduce your risk of cognitive decline.

older woman balancing workout in living room

We know what you're thinking, is there anything spinach can't do? Another perk of eating the leafy green is that it may help to protect your brain. For example, one study that followed nearly 1,000 older adults for roughly five years, showed that those who consumed a larger amount of leafy green veggies like spinach saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline. 

What's more? Apparently, the data revealed that those who ate just one to two servings of leafy greens each day had the same cognitive abilities of a person who was 11 years their junior, compared to those who didn't eat any.

Promote glowing skin.

woman with good skin

Spinach is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, many of which can help your skin smooth and radiant. Of them all, vitamin A is a key contributor to "glowing" skin and one cup of spinach contains about 63% of the daily value. Research has shown that vitamin A plays a role in regulating skin cell generation as well as producing mucous that protects it against infections.

For more, be sure to check out What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Bottle of Wine.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne