Spectacular Spinach Benefits

Spectacular Spinach Benefits

Posted under Eye Health, Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

The more I research and learn about the health benefits of spinach, the more convinced I am that this eye healthy vegetable needs to not only be included in my diet, it needs to party of my daily diet and yours as well. What makes spinach such an eye vitamin powerhouse?


Age Related Macular Degeneration

This green leafy vegetable is rich in lutein and also contains zeaxanthin, two carotenoids known to make a difference in those with age related macular degeneration (AMD).  Dr. Edward Paul, OD, PhD (in nutrition) writes in his book Prevent and Reverse Eye Disease, “In an AMD study published in the Journal of the American Optometric Association, it was shown that a diet rich in spinach may help stop AMD and even reverse some of the effects of the disease.”

Cataract Development

Not only are your eyes protected against age related macular degeneration with a diet high in leafy greens, but cataract development as well.  The American Optometric Association reports, “…antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin likely play a role in preventing cataracts.  In fact, a recent study demonstrated that higher dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin E was associated with a significantly decreased risk of cataract formation.”

Macular Pigment

Lutein and zeaxanthin play a crucial role in the thickness of the macular pigment.  In this case thicker is better.  “Within four weeks of increasing your intake of spinach and its sidekicks, you can significantly increase your macular pigment and thus help protect your vision.  In effect, the nutrients in spinach function like an internal pair of sunglasses, thereby increasing the SPF (sun protective factor) of the eye,” writes Dr. Stephen Pratt, ophthalmologist and author of SuperFoods HealthStyle.  The human body is unable to make lutein and zeaxanthin, it must get these antioxidants from food like green leafy vegetables.  However, the average person doesn’t consume enough of the recommended amounts which ranges from 6-20 mg per day.

Organic Cooked Spinach

Buy organic spinach. The Environmental Working Group has developed a list of of foods that contain the highest amount of pesticides through analyzing pesticide residue testing data from the US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration called the Dirty Dozen.  Spinach is on that list.  Pesticide toxicity is associated with disrupting the nervous and endocrine system and as well as increasing risks of cancer.   While many of those in the natural, organic, health world promote a raw diet, studies show that cooked spinach contains much higher amounts of lutein than raw spinach. The lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach become more absorbable when cooked.

1 Cup cooked spinach  20.4 mg of lutein

1 Cup raw spinach          3.7 mg of lutein

Not only is spinach a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, it also has beta-carotene, plant derived omega-3 fatty acids, glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamins C, E and B as well as minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc.   Dr. Pratt says it best, “Calorie for calorie, spinach provides more nutrients than any other food. Low in calories and jam-packed with nutrients, spinach should be a regular part of your daily menu.”    Find out what other foods are high in lutein and zeaxanthin here:

Foods High in Lutein and Zeaxanthin


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN