Spinach Green Wonder for Good HealthMunch, munch, munch! Remember the extremely lovable cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man munching on spinach out of a can all the time on television? It entertained both kids and adults and stays fresh in your memory even today.

Popeye and Spinach have remained in the mind of countless people for countless years. Ever thought of how eating spinach would help you stay in the pink of health in real life?

A fresh green bunch of spinach can do wonders for your health. Yes, spinach is full of vitamins, antioxidants, magnesium, flavonoids, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, nitrates, mineral salts.

Spinach in raw form has a mild sweet taste and baby spinach increases the nutritious value of salads. So keep munching spinach as a cooked meal or as a bowl of greens to get a healthy nutritive edge.          

Historical Background of Spinach

The leafy spinach is believed to have originated in Persia. From there it moved into various nations such as China, Spain, United States, Europe and Netherlands.

In England, spinach used to be known as ‘the Spanish vegetable’.  It is believed that the king of Nepal sent spinach as a gift to China as far back as the 7th century. Spinach is, therefore, one vegetable that has travelled the world over, winning hearts everywhere.

Spinach has Swiss Chard and beets as its colonial cousins. It tastes almost the same as the other two species in bitterness and slightly salty flavour.

Nutritive Value of Spinach

With spinach around, you can relax as far as calorie count is concerned. These leafy greens are low in fats and calories. On an average, 100 gm of raw spinach leaves has only about 23 calories.

Much of the award-winning contribution of spinach lies in its soluble fibre. This is one reason why spinach comes as the finest vegetable in weight loss regimen and it also cuts down cholesterol levels in the body.

When it comes to the dietary composition, fresh spinach give you over 23% of iron levels in your body. This boosts red blood cell production in your body and pumps up your body with health and fitness.

Spinach – Healthily Yours!

Popeye might not know the health benefits of spinach, but as a sensible consumer you ought to know the treasured health gains of this humble veggie.    

For Diabetes

Being a leafy vegetable, spinach has high concentration of the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid which helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

For Eyesight    

Spinach has lutein, xanthene and beta carotene, all of which play a tremendous role in enhancing vision and healthy eyesight. Spinach prevents vitamin A deficiency, itching in eyes, ulcers in eyes as well as dry eyes. Lutein is very effective in preventing macular degeneration that often happens with age and reduces risk of cataract.

For Blood Pressure

Potassium found in spinach is best known to reduce high blood pressure. Some of the high potassium foods you need to take on a daily basis are potatoes, tomatoes, oranges and lima beans.  Lower consumption of potassium can put you at the same risk as when you take high sodium. Spinach also has folate that helps in reducing hypertension and reducing blood pressure.   

For Heart Attacks and Strokes

Lutein found in spinach reduces the chances of atherosclerosis that happens due to the hardening of arteries.

For Bones

Deficiency of vitamin K can lead to brittle bones causing fracture. Keep eating spinach if you want to increase your bone density and bone health. There are other minerals too such as magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, phosphorus found in spinach that help in building strong bones.     

For Cancer

Research studies show that constant intake of leafy green foods reduces the chances of cancer. The antioxidants and anti-cancerous agents in it minimise the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer, and cancer of the urinary bladder, lungs and liver.

For Weight Loss

According to research, spinach could curb your cravings for food by 95% thereby contributing to weight loss. Even the green leaf membranes present in spinach hold back your hunger pangs by 95%. Now you know why switching over from calorie-stuffed fast food and non vegetarian food to a bowlful of spinach makes terrific sense.

For Cholesterol Control    

The thylakoids in spinach play a positive role in reducing LDL bad cholesterol in your body. There is the antioxidant lutein also in spinach which is known to bring anti-inflammatory effect on the aortic tissue found in the heart. This further reduces bad cholesterol.

For Asthma      

The antioxidant beta-carotene present in spinach prevents asthma.  Spinach is highly recommended for patients who are down with asthma.

For Dementia    

Include spinach to your dietary food practices as it slows down dementia – a chronic disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders. The vitamin K in spinach is said to protect the brain from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.   

For Ulcers

Spinach and other members of the green family have been found to protect the inner mucous line of the stomach. This reduces the possibility of gastric problems from affecting you. Moreover, lipids present in spinach enhance the strength and power of the lining found in the digestive tract.

For Skin  

Thanks to the high levels of vitamin A, spinach is able to keep hair and skin moisturised through sebum production. Spinach helps build skin collagen which is the foundation of good skin and hair.

Choosing Spinach – Buying Guidelines

Whenever you are buying spinach from a vegetable vendor, make sure the leaves and stems are dark green in colour and don’t have any signs of yellowing or slimy coating. Basically, spinach should be fresh for consumption.

Avoid washing spinach before storing it as it increases the chances of spoilage. What you should do is wrap the spinach in a plastic bag tightly evicting as much air as possible and then store it in the fridge so that it stays fresh for up to 5 days.

How to Include Spinach in your Diet

Spinach is no doubt the best way to get your quota of greens. Though it may not be everyone’s favourite but it can be made one depending on your creativity in recipes. You can eat spinach in raw or cooked form to get its full health benefits.

–     Include spinach into soups, pastas, wraps, sandwiches, and rolls.

–    In the monsoon season, pakoras are a hot favourite. Try out palak pakoras as evening snack with friends and family.

–    Palak ke parathe in autumn and winters with a little butter is the best way to start your weekdays or weekend morning.  

–    Put a handful of fresh spinach leaves into your early morning omelette or make a delicious smoothie out of it.  

–    For lunch, there is nothing better than saag paneer which you can have with makki ki roti with small dollops of butter in it.

Recipe for Palak Ka Raita (Spinach Raita)

palak ka raiyta 1

(Source: indianfood.about.com)

Start including spinach in your daily diet. if it can bring a smile on Popeye’s face, it should on yours too! Happy munching the goodness of spinach!

Additional Reading

Palak – A Complete Overview

Why You Must Include Spinach in Your Diet