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Popeye was right: There's plenty of power in leafy green spinach

Aug. 24, 2012 @ 11:20 PM

Popeye gulped down a can of spinach and was super-powered. Imagine! That cartoon sailor was actually right on. The nitrates in spinach help build muscles and make them work better. (Beetroot does the same!) And that's in addition to the other health-building benefits of spinach: better stamina, less stroke risk and reduced inflammation (which is implicated in everything from cancer to Alzheimer's). What else can spinach and other leafy greens do for you?

1. You'll get smarter! Three plus servings of spinach (or kale) a day can slash your risk of age-related mental decline by up to 40 percent and make your brain's RealAge five years younger! Foods like spinach are rich in mixed tocopherols -- the multiple forms of brain-protecting vitamin E (not in supplements, which usually have only one form of vitamin E). Aim for 100 IU a day of vitamin E from food.

2. Protect yourself from colon cancer. The magnesium in spinach will help. Not a fan of spinach? Try halibut, almonds, cashews, soy and potatoes.

3. Block the liver-damaging toxin aflatoxin that can show up in corn, peanuts and wheat. It's the chlorophyll and chlorophyllin in spinach (as well as broccoli) that does the trick.

4. Toss heart problems away with a salad (spinach, chard and/or wild greens) and a dash of olive oil. The greens pack blood-pressure-lowering nutrients such as folate and potassium.

5. Beat back diabetes: 1 cup cooked spinach or 2 cups -- as a salad -- daily can cut your diabetes risk by 14 percent.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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