A carotenoid found in spinach not only kills prostate cancer cells, it also prevents them from multiplying. Folate promotes vascular health by lowering homocysteine, an amino acid that, at high levels, raises the risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke. Folate has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers and to help stop uncontrolled cell growth, one of the primary characteristics of all cancers. The vitamin C and beta-carotene in spinach protect against colon cancer in addition to fighting inflammation, making them key components of brain health, particularly in older adults.
Spinach is loaded with vitamin K (one cup of cooked spinach provides 1,111 percent of the recommended daily amount!), which builds strong bones by helping calcium adhere to the bone. Spinach is also rich in lutein, which protects against age-related macular degeneration, and it may help prevent heart attacks by keeping artery walls clear of cholesterol buildup.
How much: Fresh spinach should be a daily staple in your diet. It’s available in practically every grocery store, no matter where you live, it’s easy to find year-round, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more nutritionally sound, versatile green. So do yourself a healthy favor and aim for a few ounces, raw or lightly steamed, every day.
Tips: Add a handful of fresh spinach to your next fruit smoothie. It’ll change the color but not the taste. Conventionally grown spinach is susceptible to pesticide residue; stick to organic.