5 Evidence-Based Benefits of Spinach Juice
Notably, you aren't limited to tossing it into salads and sides. Juicing fresh spinach has become a popular way to enjoy this green veggie.
In fact, spinach juice is linked to an array of impressive health benefits.
Here are 5 of the top science-backed benefits of spinach juice.
1. High in Antioxidants
Drinking spinach juice is a great way to boost your antioxidant intake.
Antioxidants neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals, thus protecting you against oxidative stress and chronic disease.
In particular, spinach is a good source of the antioxidants lutein, beta carotene, coumaric acid, violaxanthin, and ferulic acid.
Animal studies reveal similar findings, tying spinach to oxidative stress prevention.
Spinach juice is high in antioxidants, which can help prevent oxidative damage and safeguard against chronic illnesses.
2. May Improve Eye Health
Spinach juice is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants necessary for maintaining healthy vision.
Some research suggests that these compounds help protect against age-related macular degeneration, a common condition that can cause progressive vision loss.
A review of six studies linked increased intake of zeaxanthin and lutein to a lower risk of cataracts, an eye condition that clouds and blurs the lens of your eye.
What's more, spinach juice is high in vitamin A, which is important for eye health. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause dry eyes and night blindness.
Although the exact amount varies based on how much water you use and whether you add other ingredients, juicing 4 cups (120 grams) of raw spinach generally produces about 1 cup (240 mL) of juice.
In turn, this amount of juice provides nearly 63% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A.
Spinach juice is rich in vitamin A and antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein, all of which promote healthy vision.
3. May Decrease Cancer Cell Growth
Although more human research is needed, some studies suggest that certain compounds in spinach may help combat cancer cell growth.
In a 2-week study in mice, spinach juice reduced the volume of colon cancer tumors by 56%.
Another mouse study showed that monogalactosyl diacylglycerol (MGDG), a spinach compound, enhanced the effects of radiation therapy to kill pancreatic cancer cells.
Furthermore, human studies indicate that eating more leafy greens lowers your risk of lung, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer.
Nonetheless, these studies are focused on overall leafy green intake rather than spinach juice specifically. Thus, additional studies are needed.
Animal studies note that some compounds in spinach may decrease cancer cell growth, while human research associates leafy greens with a lower risk of certain cancers. All the same, further research is necessary.
4. May Reduce Blood Pressure
Spinach juice is high in naturally occurring nitrates, a type of compound that can help dilate your blood vessels. In turn, this may lower blood pressure and boost blood flow.
A 7-day study in 27 people found that eating spinach soup daily decreased blood pressure and arterial stiffness, compared with a control group.
In another small study, 30 people who ate nitrate-rich spinach experienced lower systolic blood pressure (the upper number of a reading) and improved nitric oxide status.
One cup (240 mL) of spinach juice also packs over 14% of the DV for potassium — a mineral involved in regulating blood pressure by controlling the amount of sodium excreted through your urine.
Spinach is high in nitrates and potassium, which may improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure.
5. May Promote Healthy Hair and Skin
Spinach juice is a great source of vitamin A, with nearly 63% of the DV in 1 cup (240 mL).
This vitamin helps regulate skin cell generation and produce mucous to protect against infections.
One cup (240 mL) of spinach juice also contains about 38% of the DV for vitamin C, which is an essential water-soluble vitamin that doubles as an antioxidant.
Studies show that vitamin C protects your skin against oxidative stress, inflammation, and skin damage, all of which can accelerate signs of aging. Furthermore, it helps synthesize collagen, a connective tissue protein that promotes wound healing and skin elasticity.
What's more, vitamin C may increase iron absorption and even help prevent hair loss associated with iron deficiency.
Spinach juice is high in vitamins A and C, two important micronutrients that can promote skin and hair health.
Potential Side Effects
While spinach juice is associated with some benefits, there are a few drawbacks to consider.
For starters, most of the available research is focused on spinach itself — not the juice. Thus, further studies on the juice are needed.
Additionally, juicing removes most of the fiber from spinach, which could curb some of its benefits.
Studies show that fiber may help improve blood sugar control, weight loss, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It may also protect against several digestive disorders, including hemorrhoids, constipation, acid reflux, and diverticulitis.
Spinach is likewise high in vitamin K, large amounts of which can interfere with blood thinners like warfarin. If you're taking blood thinners, consult a healthcare professional before adding spinach juice to your daily routine.
It's also important to carefully read labels if you purchase store-bought juices, as some varieties may be high in added sugar.
Finally, keep in mind that spinach juice should not be used as a meal replacement, as it's lacking in many of the nutrients necessary for a balanced diet.
Rather, you should drink it to supplement a healthy diet, enjoying it alongside a variety of other whole fruits and vegetables.
Juicing removes most of the fiber from spinach, which may inhibit some of its health benefits. Furthermore, you shouldn't use spinach juice as a meal replacement.
The Bottom Line
Spinach juice is high in antioxidants and beneficial compounds that may protect your vision, decrease blood pressure, and improve hair and skin health.
However, it's low in fiber and isn't an appropriate meal replacement, as it's lacking in important nutrients like protein and healthy fats.
If you drink spinach juice, be sure to enjoy it alongside other whole, nutritious foods as part of a balanced diet.
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Kevin T. Smiley
When hurricanes and other extreme storms unleash downpours like Tropical Storm Beta has been doing in the South, the floodwater doesn't always stay within the government's flood risk zones.
New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood maps indicate.
Flooding Outside the Zones<p>About <a href="https://furmancenter.org/files/Floodplain_PopulationBrief_12DEC2017.pdf" target="_blank">15 million</a> Americans live in FEMA's current 100-year flood zones. The designation warns them that their properties face a 1% risk of flooding in any given year. They must obtain flood insurance if they want a federally ensured loan – insurance that helps them recover from flooding.</p><p>In Greater Houston, however, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2012.01840.x" target="_blank">47% of claims</a> made to FEMA across three decades before Hurricane Harvey were outside of the 100-year flood zones. Harris County, recognizing that FEMA flood maps don't capture the full risk, now <a href="https://www.hcfcd.org/floodinsurance" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends that every household</a> in Houston and the rest of the county have flood insurance.</p><p>New risk models point to a similar conclusion: Flood risk in these areas outstrips expectations in the current FEMA flood maps.</p><p>One of those models, from the <a href="https://firststreet.org/flood-lab/research/2020-national-flood-risk-assessment-highlights/" target="_blank">First Street Foundation</a>, estimates that the number of properties at risk in a 100-year storm is 1.7 times higher than the FEMA maps suggest. Other <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aaac65" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">researchers</a> find an even higher margin, with 2.6 to 3.1 times more people exposed to serious flooding in a 100-year storm than FEMA estimates.</p>
What FEMA’s Flood Maps Miss<p>Understanding why areas outside the 100-year flood zones are flooding more often than the FEMA maps suggest involves larger social and environmental issues. Three reasons stand out.</p><p>First, some places rely on relatively old FEMA maps that don't account for recent urbanization.</p><p>Urbanization matters because impervious surfaces – think pavement and buildings – are not effective sponges like natural landscapes can be. Moreover, the process for updating floodplain maps is locally variable and can take years to complete. Famously, New York City was updating its maps when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 but hadn't finished, meaning flood maps in effect <a href="https://projects.propublica.org/nyc-flood/" target="_blank">were from 1983</a>. FEMA is required to assess whether updates are needed every five years, but the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/cis/nation.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">majority of maps</a> <a href="https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2017/OIG-17-110-Sep17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are older</a>.</p><p>Second, binary thinking can lead people to an underaccounting of risk, and that can mean communities fail to take steps that could protect a neighborhood from flooding. The logic goes: if I'm not in the 100-year floodplain, then I'm not at risk. Risk perception <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab195a" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">research</a> backs this up. FEMA-delineated flood zones are the major factor shaping flood mitigation behaviors.</p><p>Third, the era of climate change scuttles conventional assumptions.</p><p>As the planet warms, extreme storms are becoming <a href="https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/" target="_blank">more common and severe</a>. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at a high rate, computer models suggest that the chances of a severe storm dropping 20 inches of rain on Texas in any given year will increase from about 1% at the end of the last century to 18% at the end of this one, a chance of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1716222114" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">once every 5.5 years</a>. So far, <a href="https://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/195.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FEMA hasn't taken into account the impact climate change is having</a> on extreme weather and sea level rise.</p>
Racial Disparities in Flooding Outside the Zones<p>So, who is at risk?</p><p>Years of research and evidence from storms have highlighted social inequalities in areas with a high risk of flooding. But most local governments have less understanding of the social and demographic composition of communities that experience flood impacts outside of flood zones.</p><p>In analyzing the damage from Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, I found that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aba0fe" target="_blank">Black and Hispanic residents disproportionately experienced flooding</a> in areas beyond FEMA's 100-year flood zones.</p><p>With the majority of flooding from Hurricane Harvey occurring outside of 100-year flood zones, this meant that the overall impact of Harvey was racially unequal too.</p><p>Research into where flooding occurs in Baltimore, Chicago and Phoenix points to some of the potential causes. <a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/25381/chapter/4#16" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In Baltimore and Chicago</a>, for example, aging storm and sewer infrastructure, poor construction and insufficient efforts to mitigate flooding are part of the flooding problem in some predominantly Black neighborhoods.</p>
What Can Be Done About It<p>Better accounting for those three reasons could substantively improve risk assessments and help cities prioritize infrastructure improvements and flood mitigation projects in these at-risk neighborhoods.</p><p>For example, First Street Foundation's risk maps account for <a href="https://firststreet.org/flood-lab/research/flood-model-methodology_overview/" target="_blank">climate change</a> and present <a href="https://floodfactor.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ratings</a> on a scale from 1 to 10. FEMA, which works with communities to update flood maps, is <a href="https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1521054297905-ca85d066dddb84c975b165db653c9049/TMAC_2017_Annual_Report_Final508(v8)_03-12-2018.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">exploring rating systems</a>. And the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently <a href="https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2019/03/new-report-calls-for-different-approaches-to-predict-and-understand-urban-flooding" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">called for a new generation of flood maps</a> that takes climate change into account.</p><p>Including recent urbanization in those assessments will matter too, especially in fast-growing cities like Houston, where <a href="https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1boBRyDvMFW6W" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">386 new square miles</a> of impervious surfaces were created in the last 20 years. That's greater than the land area of New York City. New construction in one area can also <a href="https://scalawagmagazine.org/2018/01/city-in-a-swamp-as-houston-booms-its-flood-problems-are-only-getting-worse/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">impact older neighborhoods downhill</a> during a flood, as some Houston communities discovered in Hurricane Harvey.</p><p>Improving risk assessments is needed not just to better prepare communities for major flood events, but also to prevent racial inequalities – in housing and beyond – from <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/03/05/688786177/how-federal-disaster-money-favors-the-rich" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">growing</a> after the unequal impacts of disasters.</p>
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