Author: Kameal L. Anderson
We’ve all seen the Popeye cartoons where he eats spinach and his muscles grow to great sizes as he defeats his enemy Bluto. Spinach is one of those foods that you either love or hate. Spinach is believed to originate somewhere is Persia. It made it’s way over to Europe by the 12th century and became known for its health benefits.
Spinach belongs to a powerhouse family of super nutritious foods like quinoa, beets and chard. It has the bitterness of the beet greens and the light saltiness of the chard. There are in fact three types of spinach, smooth leaf, savoy and semi-savoy. Because spinach is available all year round we can all enjoy its health benefits as often as we like.
But just what are these health benefits. Spinach has been known to increase vitality, replenish energy, and increase the quality of the blood. Spinach is also very high in iron. A typical serving of spinach will give you about 3 grams of protein, 23 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber.
Spinach also plays a very important role red blood cell function which carries oxygenated blood throughout the body. Which helps in DNA synthesis and energy development. Spinach contains vitamins, C, K, A, manganese, folic acid, magnesium, B2, and of course iron. Vitamin K is essential for bone health and you would be hard pressed to find many vegetables richer in vitamin K than spinach.
Spinach also has a high water content which makes it easily digestible to the body. The dark green color of this vegetable can be attributed to it high chlorophyll levels and health related carotenoids (zeaxanthin , lutein, and beta carotene). These nutrients have many benefits which include anti-cancer properties, anti-inflammatory properties, eye health, the prevention of cataracts, and macular degeneration.
So how do you know if the spinach you have is fresh? Well it should be “fresh” looking, medium to dark green, with no evidence of decay or wilting. It will keep about four days refrigerated, loosely packed in a plastic bag or container. Don not wash before you store spinach as the moisture will cause it to spoil and wilt. Only wash just before you are about to serve and eat.
If you want to cook spinach try lightly steaming or lightly sautéeing instead of boiling to keep all the nutrients. Spinach along with many other foods can make a healthy, tasty dish. As with anything use moderation when eating any one vegetable. Mix it in with a variety of of other whole grains, vegetables and fruits for a balanced meal.
Once you start adding spinach to your diet, you are sure to feel the benefits.