Whenever I think of muscles, the word itself triggers a memory of seeing Popeye wolf down a can of spinach, then his tricep growing 3 times its initial size. And then he defeats the bad guy. Did you ever wonder what the connection is here?
Well, it looks like Popeye was right after all. Spinach does have a strong connection with muscle building. Apparently, weekly servings of this nutrient-rich leafy green fit-food can help your workouts and overall health. According to a Swedish study, nitrate, the natural compound in spinach was found to help tone muscles and improve cellular function.
Spinach is rich in water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, nitrate, protein, and fiber. The natural nitrate from spinach stimulates muscle proteins when consumed normally in a balanced diet.
8 ounces of spinach contain less than 1 miligram of nitrate. However, being a natural nitrate, it's far more beneficial than inorganic nitrates used as food additives. Our bodies convert the nitrate in spinach into nitric oxide (NO). This helps with proper intestinal function, since it is a vital molecular component to delivering oxygen to the blood. This makes NO a vasodilation and anti-inflammatory agent. Eating about 300g of spinach 3 times a week will help increase the release of necessary substances in the muscle tissue, which in turn benefits muscle gains.
One cup of raw spinach contains 200% of vitamin K, which is a necessary daily intake for healthy bones. Lutein also helps maintain healthy eyesight and prevents cataracts.
Spinach is very rich in iron, more than many other green foods. This is why it can be of great help to those who incorporate little to no meat in their diets. Iron is necessary for keeping energy levels up, which is a condition of healthily working out.
100g of spinach contains 558 mg of potassium. There is a strong link between potassium intake and muscle. Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte responsible for smooth muscle and skeletal contraction, and plays key roles in preventing heart, muscle and digestive issues. The average person requires about 4700 miligrams of potassium a day. Spinach is a great source of potassium and it comes with additional health benefits such as 0 cholesterol, very low-fat percentage, antioxidants, protein, fiber, and chlorophyll which helps prevent certain types of cancer.
These are necessary compounds for muscle building and ensuring the weekly intake of spinach can help you immensely with your workouts and muscle building training. One of the best things about spinach is that it’s so versatile and that it can be so easy to incorporate into your diet using some very delicious recipes.
For this quick & easy recipe, just heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, throw in some garlic to suit your taste and add all the fresh and clean spinach in it. Stir after a few minutes and add your favorite seasoning. It's best served hot!
You can either chop the leaves or use them whole for this recipe. Served it as a side dish with your favorite protein (eggs, meat). You can also add your favorite veggies to the mix while it's still cooking and let it simmer until it's all soft or slightly crunchy.
This is an incredibly delicious side dish you can serve with eggs for a protein punch. For this recipe, you will heat a little bit of butter in a saucepan and cook some finely chopped onions (or garlic) until they are soft. Stir in some flour and cook for a couple of minutes.
Slowly start adding the milk until you get a thick sauce. Chop the fresh and clean spinach leaves and add them to the sauce. On low heat stir until it's all creamy and well incorporated. Finally, add your favorite seasoning to make it irresistible.
Obviously, the best way to eat spinach and benefit from all the healthy nutrients is to consume it raw. So this wouldn’t be a complete list without at least one recipe for salad lovers.
For this effortless recipe you need fresh and clean spinach, your favorite cheese crumbled, thinly sliced onion, cranberries or may I suggest, pomegranate seeds (they're delicious!), toasted sliced almonds if you like them and throw them all together. You can add pieces of chicken to it if you prefer. Use orange juice or orange zest as dressing.
Of course, the easiest and most practical way to have spinach, especially if you’re on the go, is to throw it into a smoothie. As with our smoothie philosophy, there’s no fixed recipe, just mix and match your favorite things as long as you take into account the nutrients you add – be smart about it.
For an exotic green smoothie throw in your blender some spinach leaves, a couple of slices of pineapple, 3 frozen cubes of coconut water, a slice of mango, and you can even add a handful of your favorite berries. It is also tasty with slices of apples, oranges, grapes and kiwi. If you want to give it a protein punch, add a scoop of protein powder to it.
This green leafy-food, so rich in nitrate and potassium will be a great helper in muscle building. Make sure you incorporate it into your meals 3 times every week and you will see amazing results. Spinach is a versatile food and you can consume it raw, in salads or cook it with your favorite seasonings and serve it as a side dish.
If coupled with proper training, the nitrate in spinach will help improve and increase the release of necessary compounds in your muscle tissue to help you build stronger muscles. Aside from this, the many additional health benefits are amazing and who wouldn’t want to lower the risk of cancer, or to prevent macular degeneration if they could? Well, you can!
I think Popeye would’ve just loved these recipes and would’ve given the can over a spinach smoothie any time. What do you think, are you convinced? Let us know how you incorporate spinach into your diet!
Well, it looks like Popeye was right after all. Spinach does have a strong connection with muscle building.
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