Contrary to what the Popeye cartoons would have you believe, eating more spinach won't give you bulging muscles or make you able to lift a car above your head -- but it will improve your health overall. Your eyes, specifically, will benefit when you add spinach to your diet. Here's a look at some of the many eye-healthy nutrients found in this power vegetable, as well as some suggestions for adding more spinach to your plate (or glass).
Important Eye-Friendly Nutrients Found In Spinach
Vitamin K: It's best known for its role in blood clotting, but vitamin K also helps keep nerves – including your optic nerves – in good shape as you age. It also helps keep inflammation at bay, which may be helpful if you suffer from allergy symptoms like puffy eyes. One cup of cooked spinach provides a whopping 987% of the daily value of vitamin K.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is the famous eye-health vitamin, but it's not just found in carrots like you may have thought. Getting enough vitamin A in your diet reduces your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration, both of which can severely impact your vision. A cup of cooked spinach contains 105% of the daily value of vitamin A.
Vitamin E: This is another vitamin that reduces your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts as you age. Spinach is not as high in vitamin E as some other nutrients, but one cup provides a respectable 25% of the daily value of this nutrient.
Magnesium: Magnesium is important for the dilation of blood vessels. By improving blood flow to the eyes, it may reduce your risk of eye infections. It's also important for the proper function of nerves, so getting more magnesium may keep your vision sharp by preventing optic nerve damage. A cup of spinach provides 84% of the daily value of magnesium.
Copper: Your body only needs copper in very small amounts, but it is essential for maintaining the health of collagen, a component of the membranes that surround your eye. A cup of spinach provides 34% of the daily value of copper.
Ways to Add Spinach To Your Diet
Sure, spinach is great when tossed in a salad or sautéed in olive oil, but here are a few more creative ways to enjoy this veggie.
- Add a handful of baby spinach to your smoothies. (No, you won't taste it – though your smoothie will look green.)
- Add sautéed spinach to your mashed potatoes.
- Serve your chicken breast or steak with a topping made from spinach and sautéed garlic.
Add more spinach to your diet, and you can be confident that you're getting the nutrients your eyes need for good health. You can also buy eye care vitamins for an extra boost.