Water Spinach or Kangkong in the Philippines, is scientifically known as Ipomoea aquatica, a popular ingredient used in various cuisines such as salads, desserts and added in some dishes. It can be boiled or steam , just like regular spinach.
Water spinach is a very nutritious vegetable with various health benefits. This plant is rich in calcium, iron, carotene, phosphorus, protein, sitosterol, vitamins A, B1 and C and contains lots of health beneficial amino acids. Other pharmacological effects includes laxative, antitoxin, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, homeostatic and sedatives or sleeping effects.
Health Benefits of Water Spinach
1. Protects Against Heart Diseases
Water spinach contains essential nutrients such as vitamins A, C and high concentration of beta-carotene. These nutrients act as antioxidants, which helps in reducing free radicals in the body, thus preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized.
Oxidized cholesterol sticks to the blood vessel walls, therefore causing heart attack, stroke and blocked arteries. Besides, folate present in water spinach helps to convert a potentially dangerous chemical known as homocysteine, which in high levels can lead to stroke or heart attack. Also, magnesium is a mineral that helps lower blood pressure and provides protection against heart disease.
2. For Diabetes
Kangkong is good for diabetics because the substances in water spinach can help in absorbing excess blood sugar.
A study which was conducted by the Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, India and published in the Journal of Diabetes. March 2013, reported that by administering powdered kangkong supplements to pregnant rats. The results suggest that kangkong supplementation during pregnancy may provide beneficial effects against diabetes induced oxidative stress both for the mother and the fetus.
Other studies have reported that water spinach is effective for diabetes such as:
1. Helps lower fasting blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetes
2. Reduces blood sugar levels comparable to the diabetes medication known as tolbutamide.
3. Provides supplementation during pregnancy by reducing diabetic pregnancy complications
3. Cancer Prevention
Water spinach is loaded with 13 different types of antioxidant compounds and is therefire a perfect diet for prevention of cancer. These antioxidants are known to help in eliminating free radicals from the body, thus altering the conditions in which cancer cells strengthen and multiply the natural cell environment. This vegetable is said to be most beneficial in preventing colo-rectal, stomach, breast and skin cancers.
4. Boost Immunity
Water spinach is rich in vitamins C, which means that it is very beneficial for building immunity. It can be a deterrent against influenza. Also, the content of vitamin C in spinach are more than the vitamins present in fruits.
5. Treatment of Anemia
Water spinach is rich in iron, which makes it very beneficial for individuals with anemia as well as pregnant women who require iron in their diets. Iron is an important mineral that is needed by the body, most particularly by the red blood cells for the formation of hemoglobin.
6. Eye Health
Water spinach is loaded with carotenoids, lutein and vitamin A. These nutrients are essential for eye health. Also, kangkong boosts glutathione levels, which plays a key role in preventing cataracts.
7. Liver Problems
According to studies, water spinach says could prevent liver damage. This is attributed to the effect of chemical compounds present spinach that contribute to the modulation of antioxidants and detoxification enzymes, as well as the effects of free radicals.
Nutrition Profile of Water Spinach:
Water spinach is a nutrient dense source of Vitamin A, B, C, iron and calcium.
Calories Per Serving: 11 cals
Serving Size: 1 cup or 56g
How to Consume Water Spinach:
– Add in a juice or green smoothie.
– Add in stews, soups, casseroles, or salads.