People diagnosed with diabetes might have some relief coming in the form of Popeye’s favorite leafy green.
A study recently published in Scientific Reports this month suggested that spinach extract might promote the accelerated healing of chronic diabetic ulcers.
Such stubborn lower-extremity ulcers caused by high blood sugar levels plague between 19% and 34% of diabetics. When they develop in the foot, it is often in the areas that see the most pressure and repetitive friction. As such, if the ulcers — essentially open wounds — do not heal, there is a high risk of infection. Serious infections could necessitate amputation or even lead to death, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Given the high stakes, an Iranian research team sought to investigate how spinach extract might affect such wounds by conducting tests on 72 adult rats, Medical News Today reported. Researchers tested two types of spinach extract: one mixed with alcohol and one mixed with water. After being fed to rats for two consecutive months, both extracts exhibited promising results for accelerating the healing of ulcers, with the alcohol-based solution slightly outperforming the water-based one.
However, the best results were seen in the rats that were administered spinach extract both before and after being induced with diabetes. But that is not the only benefit documented in the study. The research also suggested the regular consumption of spinach extract could have positive impacts in terms of blood sugar levels and weight loss.
Considering that one of the major risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes is carrying excess weight, spinach extract could be a major tool in the fight against diabetes. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, rising rates of type 2 diabetes have correlated with surging rates of obesity nationwide.
The CDC has even projected a nearly 700% increase in the number of young Americans with type 2 diabetes by 2060, given current childhood obesity rates, per USA Today. For its part, Texas has an obesity rate of 20% among children ages 10 to 17, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The latest study suggests that spinach may not only be a superfood in culinary contexts. It could also have therapeutic potential.
It contains compounds like lutein, lycopene, and linolenic acid, which are all known to protect cells from damage. It also contains high levels of vitamins C, E, and K and various phytochemicals that aid in wound healing and boosting collagen production, cell growth, and blood vessel formation.
“Red blood cells are the foundation of new tissue as it creates collagen. Collagen forms new skin tissue, which grows over the wound, causing it to heal and decrease in size,” explained Yelena Wheeler, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, according to Medical News Today.