Few decades ago Popeye made Spinach famous. In the comic book whenever Popeye needed strength he would consume some spinach and then rescue the world. Hundreds and thousands of kids started consuming spinach after getting inspired by Popeye.
Spinach is a very popular green leafy vegetable. It is also consumed all over the world and a favorite vegetable of most people in the world. It originated in Asia and now grown and eaten all over. It grows only to 1 foot of height and is a flowering plant. Its leaves are consumed as the end product.
From health perspective it in an ideal food since most foods which contain spinach are either freshly prepared or less processed comparatively. Good part is they are not too costly either. Let us see the nutrition value of spinach and why we should consume these leaves more.
Nutrients in Spinach
Spinach contains various nutrients like – Vitamin A, B, C and E. Out of the Vitamins Vitamin A and B are present in various varieties such as Beta-Carotene, Lutein zeaxanthin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacine and Folate. Protein is present in good quantity – around 3 grams for 100 grams. Trace metals such as Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium and Phosphorus are also present in good quantities.
Dietary Fiber in Spinach
Considering the 90 percent weight of Spinach is water spinach contains quite high percentage of dietary fiber. It contains 2.2 grams of dietary fiber. Which means that it contains 2.2 grams of fiber per 9 grams of solid weight which is very high.
Since it also contains good amount of protein it means that you can easily be within the recommended range of 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories consumption of foods. It also means that eating spinach along with other vegetables such as broccoli can keep your weight in control.
Roles of Oxalates
Oxalates are compounds which are present in spinach. They prevent the absorption of Iron and Calcium in your body. Although Spinach has more Iron compared to many other vegetable very little of it is actually absorbed. In fact oxalates remove Iron from your body. Calcium, which is not in much quantity is also not absorbed. So if you are deficient in Iron and Calcium then do not consume too much spinach.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Anti Inflammatory Properties
It contains nutrient called glycoglycerolipids which help in photosynthesis process. They can protect the linings of the intestines and protect from digestive tract damage. In case of inflammation problems in the digestive tract consume more spinach. Excess inflammation can cause various diseases such as arthritis and cancer and bringing down inflammation helps in preventing these diseases.
Helps in Prostrate Cancer
Some studies have shown that spinach is the most effective vegetable in controlling the growth of prostrate cancer among other green vegetables. Though further research is needed it is speculated that it could be due to presence of anti cancer compounds or cartenoids such as epoxyxanthophylls, beta-carotene and lutein.
Spinach has anti oxidant properties since it contains Vitamin C and Vitamin A. It also contains Selenium which prevents cancer. Anti oxidants keep our cells healthy and body remains younger for a longer time.
It keeps the hearth healthier as it prevents the hardening of arteries. The presence of dietary fiber and magnesium also help in keeping the heart healthy. Fiber ensures that too much accumulation of bad cholesterol does not take place and Magnesium keeps the heart muscles relaxed and keeps the blood pressure down. The presence of peptides also help in keeping the blood pressure down as they inhibit the enzyme called angiotensin I-converting enzyme
Beta-Carotene and Lutein the nutrient and oxidant which are important for eye health as they keep the retina healthy. These compounds keep you eyes healthy and also prevent diseases like macular degeneration. If you look carefully on the eye health product you will find out that they all contain Beta-Carotene and Lutein. Spinach delivers these compounds naturally to yoyu.
Interesting Facts About Spinach
You should wash spinach more thoroughly as they may contain lots of pesticides. Spinach which are in sealed bags and refrigerated can stay fresh for long time.
Spinach is originally thought to have originated in Persia (Modern Iran) and then spread to India where is very popular today. From India it spread to China when king of Nepal sent this as gift to the Chinese king. Then gradually it spread to other countries.
How To Eat Spinach
Most people eat spinach as part of salads where in the leaves are added to other leaves such as lettuce, legumes and beans. Some people also like to add chicken to these salads.
Another option which is very popular among health enthusiasts is to add spinach to green smoothies. This form is very easy to digest and absorb the nutrients.
Yet another way to prepare spinach is to add it to boiling water for a minute and take it out. Then eat with some eggs or other foods you like. Doing this cooks the spinach enough to retain its sweetness and also keeps its nutrition intact.
You can also make spinach omlette and have it with some papaya. Here is the recipe for that. One of popular recipes is called spinach chicken which is an popular menu item on many Indian restaurants. You can look up the recipes online.