The Real Secret of Popeye’s Energy
Most of us over 40 remember the cartoon character, Popeye. The wisecracking sailor was constantly battling his arch-nemesis, Bluto, for the affections of his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Olive Oyl.
Whenever Popeye got in a fix, he’d pull out a trusty can of spinach. No matter how dire the situation, a can of spinach was all he needed to regain his strength and win the day.
Generations of kids ate their spinach because Popeye did. But Popeye and his creators never really understood just how right they were about spinach. The secret lies deep within your cells.
The secret is in your mitochondria. These are tiny “energy factories” located in almost every cell in your body – especially in your heart, liver and other cells that use a lot of energy.
Inside your mitochondria, the oxygen you breathe is combined with nutrients to create water and energy – in the form of ATP. ATP is sort of the jet fuel of your cells. Lots of ATP means you have lots of energy.
But these little energy factories make something else, too. The process of making ATP also makes free radicals. They’re a lot like industrial waste… and they can do a lot of damage. If you don’t neutralize them, they can cripple your mitochondria. And that means your energy output goes down.
That’s where Popeye comes in.
You see, spinach is rich in the mineral manganese. And manganese plays a special role in protecting your little energy factories.
The most important antioxidant inside your mitochondria is called MnSOD – manganese superoxide dismutase. MnSOD mops up free radicals like the Marines hitting the beach. When you’re getting enough manganese, those tiny energy factories can pump out energy like crazy.
But manganese does more than help keep you energized.
Popeye often took quite a beating before he pulled out that can of spinach. But even the worst abuse had no lasting effect. Of course, that’s because Popeye is just a cartoon character. But there’s some truth in Popeye’s amazing powers of recovery.
Manganese is critical for healthy bones. Your body only needs a tiny amount of this mineral. But if you don’t get enough, your bones can become weak and brittle.
You also need manganese for healing wounds. Your body uses manganese to trigger the production of collagen. This protein is the basis of all connective tissue, including skin.
Fortunately, you don’t have to eat cans of spinach to get the manganese your body needs. There’s no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for this mineral. But we do have estimates of how much you need – and it’s not a lot.
Adult men should shoot for 2.3 mg per day. Women need less… about 1.8 mg. And that isn’t too hard to get.
An ounce of pecans contains about 1.3 mg of manganese. Cooked brown rice delivers about 1 mg. So does a packet of instant oatmeal.
Almonds and peanuts are good sources, along with most beans, sweet potato and green tea. And a half-cup of cooked spinach will boost your intake by about .84 mg. In fact, almost any dark green leafy vegetable delivers a good dose of this essential mineral.
Yours in good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
“Manganese,” Linus Pauling Institute. Mar, 2010.
“Manganese Superoxide Dismutase (MnSOD),” University of Florida.