Obscurely referred to for years in England as the Spanish vegetable, the name of this leafy green veggie was later shortened to the name we call it today. Thought to have originated in ancient Persia, spinach cultivation spread to Nepal, and by the seventh century, to China, where it’s still called Persian Greens. The Moors introduced it to Spain around the 11th century. No mere vegetable ever gained the fame that spinach did in the 1960s through the cartoon character Popeye. Often in vain, parents encouraged their children to eat their spinach so they would grow up to be big and strong. There’s actually some truth to that, because of the many benefits of spinach.

Benefits of Spinach: High in Vitamins and Minerals

spinach leaves, benefits of leaves

Low in fat and even lower in cholesterol, spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fibre, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. In other words, it’s loaded with good things for every part of your body!

Benefits of Spinach: Plenty of Flavonoids and Antioxidants

spinach leaves, benefits of spinach

Abundant flavonoids in spinach act as antioxidants to keep cholesterol from oxidising and protect the body from free radicals, particularly in the colon. The folate in spinach is good for a healthy cardiovascular system, and magnesium helps lower high blood pressure. Studies also have shown that spinach helps maintain vigorous brain function, memory and mental clarity. In order to retain the rich iron content of spinach while cooking, lightly, add lemon juice or vinegar.

Fun Facts

spinach muffins, benefits of spinach

  • Known to thrive better in cooler than warmer climates, Arab farmers were nevertheless able to successfully cultivate spinach in the arid Mediterranean climate through the use of a sophisticated irrigation system!
  • Low in calories but packed with nutrients, spinach is one of a number of leafy vegetables becoming more and more prevalent on the salad bar.
  • Its versatility makes it easily adaptable in healthy vegetable drinks and smoothies, lightly sautéed as a standalone side dish, and added to soups or stir-fried vegetables.
  • The larger the leaves, the more mature they are and the more likely to be tough or stringy. Also, spinach leaves that are placed under direct light in the stores have been found to contain more nutrients than those stored in darkness.
  • Cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits! Just half a cup of cooked spinach will give you three times as much nutrition as one cup of raw spinach. That’s because the body cannot completely break down the nutrients in raw spinach for its use.
  • As an exception to the advice above, research studies show that taking spinach in juice form is actually the healthiest way to consume it. Blend spinach with other vegetables or fruits to create a delicious juice, or try a green smoothie.
  • Freezing spinach diminishes its health benefits. The way to get the best from the leaf is to buy it fresh and eat it the same day.
  • Do place spinach on your organic shopping list, because the leaf tends to be sprayed heavily with pesticides that don’t come off with normal washing.
  • Spinach eases constipation and protects the mucus lining of the stomach, so that you stay free of ulcers.
  • The bounty of vitamins and minerals in spinach can bring you quick relief from dry, itchy skin and lavish you with a radiant complexion. Regular consumption of fresh, organic spinach juice has been shown to improve skin health dramatically.

Consumption of spinach has increased fourfold in the United States, according to the USDA, over the last 40 years, possibly because the boiled-and-canned-to-resemble-seaweed dish once served in school lunches is much improved. Now greener, tastier and crisper by freezing, spinach fresh from the garden is often used for salads and in place of lettuce on sandwiches.

© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Daniel Petre

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