Malabar spinach belongs to the family Basellaceae and there are two types: Basella alba and Basella Rubra. Basella alba features green leaves and green stems whereas Basella Rubra features purplish stem and deep green leaves with pink veins. It is quite similar to spinach. It also has many other names like Ceylon spinach, climbing spinach, red vine spinach. Malabar spinach is a popular leafy green vegetable that packs a heft nutritional punch.
It is majorly found in Asia and Africa. It shows better yield in hot climates and grows up to 30 feet (length). It has vitamins, minerals (like magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, manganese) beta carotene, and antioxidants, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. It contains low amounts of calories, high amounts of fiber, and proteins. Both the young shoots and stems of Malabar spinach are eaten.
Malabar Spinach has many Health Benefits as follows
Improves Digestion and Prevents Constipation
The fiber in Basella boosts and assists indigestion. Fiber increases the peristalsis in the gastrointestinal tract. Malabar spinach has a rich source of fiber which can increase the movement of the intestine which improves digestion, prevents bloating, and reduces constipation and other bowel diseases. It also helps to clean the toxins stored in the colon and also provides protection from colon cancer.
Used for Weight Loss
Malabar spinach has important nutrients included, such as vitamin A and C, mineral ions, potassium, and natural cellulose fiber for good bowel movements. The good digestion stimulated by Basella leads to a better metabolism, the foundation of losing and maintaining weight. Malabar spinach contains fewer calories. 100gm of Malabar spinach contains only 19mg of calories. Malabar spinach is said to be keto-friendly due to its low carbohydrate content. Because of the high source of fiber and less calories, it is best for weight loss.
Free radicals are the ones that are responsible for causing damage to cells, DNA, and proteins for the development of cancer. Malabar spinach is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants play a major role in preventing cancer by inhibiting the cell damage caused by free radicals.
Improves Sleep and keeps brain sharp
Malabar spinach improves sleep due to the presence of magnesium which relaxes the muscles. Magnesium along with zinc show improved activity.
Malabar spinach is rich in folate and other B complex vitamins. Thiamine, folic acid, biotin, and other vitamins play a key role in mental health. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked with a higher risk of depression, fatigue, anemia, and paranoia. All these issues can be prevented by eating Malabar spinach which improves brain function.
Improves immune system
The human body contains an immune system that gets activated when a foreign matter enters the body. It is responsible for maintaining good health by protecting from infections and also shortening the duration of illness. Vitamin C plays a major role in improving the immune system in our body. Malabar spinach has a higher amount of vitamin C which boosts immunity and prevents diseases.
Maintains blood pressure and lowers cholesterol
Blood pressure plays an important role in the human body. High blood pressure may lead to many heart diseases. Hence blood pressure needs to be maintained. Potassium has the property of vasodilation. The potassium present in Malabar spinach lowers the blood pressure by vasodilation. Homocysteine results in an increased risk of strokes. Folate present in Malabar spinach lowers the homocysteine levels present in blood by converting it into methionine.
The Malabar spinach contains fiber which lowers cholesterol. The ethanolic and aqueous extracts of Malabar spinach have a greater ability to lower the cholesterol levels in the body by binding to the LDL. This reduces the risk of heart diseases by improving blood flow.
Maintains Blood Sugar Levels
If the food we consume has larger fiber, it decreases the absorption rate of glucose. Malabar spinach has a high amount of fiber which slows down the absorption of glucose. This helps in controlling diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels.
Lowers bone health
Bone health is maintained by two minerals, magnesium, and calcium. These minerals are found in Malabar spinach. Hence taking Malabar spinach can improve bone health by absorption of magnesium and calcium.
Risk of anemia is reduced
The formation of red blood cells majorly depends on iron. Iron deficiency leads to decreased formation of red blood cells which leads to anemia. Malabar spinach contains a greater amount of iron that is 1.2mg per 100gm. This iron content can lower the risk of anemia. Hence with regular consumption of Malabar spinach, one can protect themselves from developing anemia.
Protects and nourish eye:
With a perfect blend of antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene zeaxanthin, and lutein, it provides extra protection from free radicals. Free radicals damage the eye retina which leads to cataracts or eye vision loss. Malabar spinach is a rich source of vitamin A and is essential for good eyesight.