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Nutr Cancer. 2003;46(2):222-31.

Composition, efficacy, and safety of spinach extracts.

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Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.


Spinach leaves, containing several active components, including flavonoids, exhibit antioxidative, antiproliferative, and antiinflammatory properties in biological systems. Spinach extracts have been demonstrated to exert numerous beneficial effects, such as chemo- and central nervous system protection and anticancer and antiaging functions. In this review article, we present a compilation of data generated in our laboratories and those of other investigators describing the chemical composition of spinach, its beneficial effects, relative safety information, and its recommended inclusion in the human diet. A powerful, water-soluble, natural antioxidant mixture (NAO), which specifically inhibits the lipoxygenase enzyme, was isolated from spinach leaves. The antioxidative activity of NAO has been compared to that of other known antioxidants and found to be superior in vitro and in vivo to that of green tea, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and vitamin E. NAO has been tested for safety and is well tolerated in several species, such as mouse, rat, and rabbit. NAO has been found to be nonmutagenic and has shown promising anticarcinogenic effects in a few experimental models, such as skin and prostate cancer; it has not shown any target-organ toxicity or side effects. The current review provides epidemiological and preclinical data supporting the efficacy of extracts of spinach and the safety of its consumption.

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