Spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color has been a real super food for ages. Spinach belongs to the same family Amaranthaceae as Swiss chard and beets and has the scientific name, Spinacia oleracea. It has the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of Swiss chard.
Raw spinach has a mild, slightly sweet taste that can be refreshing in salads, while its flavor becomes more acidic and robust when it is cooked. There are three different types of spinach: Savoy– has crisp, creased curly leaves that have a springy texture; Flat leafed– smooth, unwrinkled, spade-shaped leaves; Semi-savoy– is similar in texture to savoy but is not as crinkled in appearance.
Spinach was ﬁrst cultivated over 2000 years ago in Iran. It was only brought to Europe in the 11th century and by 1806, it had become a popular vegetable in America. Not until 1920 did the U.S. start its commercial cultivation, with the Popeye the Sailorman cartoon becoming a great advocate for spinach consumption.
TOP 14 HEALTH SECRETS OF SUPERFOOD SPINACH:
- Healthy Diet Food: Spinach is abundant in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation through smooth and effective waste disposal, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Spinach is a low calorie, and fat and cholesterol free food.
- Anti Cancer: Flavonoids, a phytonutrient, and antioxidant beta-carotene, abundant in spinach, slow down cell division in cancer cells preventing stomach, skin, prostate, and ovarian cancer.
- Anti-Inflammatory: Spinach is super rich in anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls- Neoxanthin and violaxanthin, that help fight inflammation related disorders like arthritis, osteoporosis, migraine headaches, and asthma.
- Boosts Brain and Nervous System: Vitamin K assists in maintaining a healthy nervous system and brain function by synthesizing sphingolipids, the crucial fat that makes up the Myelin sheath around our nerves and slows the age-related brain function decline.
- Antioxidant: The vitamin C, E, flavanoids, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium in spinach are powerful antioxidants that combat free radicals and the onset of osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
- Regulates Blood Pressure: Spinach contains peptides thatinhibit the angiotensin (constrictor of blood vessels) I-converting enzyme, effectively lowering blood pressure. The antioxidants, vitamins C and A, help fight free radicals and prevent cholesterol from oxidizing. Folate and magnesium help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
- Improves Vision: Antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, plentiful in spinach, protect the eyes from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Improves Immunity Shield: Spinach is super rich in vitamin A that not only protects and strengthens the mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts, but is also a key component of lymphocytes or white blood cells that fight infections.
- Strengthens Bones: Vitamin K prevents excess activation of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bones, as well as promote the synthesis of osteocalcin, the protein that is essential for maintaining the strength and density of our bones.
- Prevents Calcification: Vitamin K aids the carboxylation process which produces the matrix Gla protein responsible to prevent calcium deposits in tissues and blood vessels, a primary cause of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
- Increases Muscle Efficiency: Spinach reduces the amount of oxygen required to power your muscles during strenuous exercise. So you need less effort to do more.
- Skin Care: The high amount of vitamin A in spinach also promotes healthy skin by allowing for proper moisture retention in the epidermis, thus fighting psoriasis, keratinization, acne and even wrinkles.
- GastroIntestinal (GI) Health: Spinach contains beta-carotene, vitamin C and folate that prevent the harmful effects of free radicals, DNA damage and mutations in colon cells.
- Anti Anemic: The mineral Iron, in spinach is critical for menstruating women, growing children and adolescents, and is a building block of hemoglobin, essential for oxygen supply and energy to all body cells.
Side effects and Precautions:
- Pesticide Residues: Conventionally grown spinach is among the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of spinach unless it is grown organically.
- E. coli: Thorough washing of contaminated spinach cannot remove E. coli 0157:H7. Cooking fresh spinach at 160°F (71°C) for 15 seconds will kill any E. coli 0157:H7 present. Give a quick boil for approximately 1 minute to avoid E. Coli.
- Oxalates: Spinach is high in oxalic acid, a chemical that can bind with iron and calcium and cause your body to absorb less of these important nutrients. To combat this problem, take in some vitamin C when you eat spinach; you can do this by having a glass of orange juice or a tomato whenever you eat spinach. Vitamin C will help your body better absorb calcium and iron.
- Purines: Excess accumulation of purines (naturally occurring substances in spinach) in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid causing “gout” and the formation of kidney stones.
- Interactions with prescriptions: If you are taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) it is important that you do not suddenly begin to eat more or less spinach that contains vitamin K, which plays a large role in blood clotting.
- Potassium: Consuming too much spinach (because of potassium) can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
- Gritty Teeth: A common, but harmless, side effect of eating spinach is feeling as though your teeth are gritty or slimy. This is caused by the oxalic acid found in spinach. Oxalic acid contains small crystals that do not dissolve in water. The grit is harmless and can be removed easily by brushing your teeth.
- Stomach Upset: Eating too much fiber at once can contribute to stomach upset and diarrhea. You may experience gas, bloating and cramping after eating spinach. Try drinking a full glass of water every time you eat spinach to help your body better process the fiber.