Spinach, reminds every kid or person of the famous cartoon ‘Popeye’, the sailor man known for his obsession for spinach. It’s very popular as the cartoon is shown eating spinach and get strong. Infants are advised to be fed with spinach which is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. These will result in proportionate development in their growing stages. Spinach is popularly known as palak (Hindi) in most parts of India.
Spinach is available throughout the year, its season runs from March through May and from September through October when it is the freshest and has the best flavor. Spinach belongs to the same family (Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae) as Swiss chard and beets and has the scientific name, Spinacia oleracea. It shares a similar taste profile with these two other vegetables, having the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of Swiss chard. Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color provide more nutrients than any other food. Popeye the sailor popularized spinach, but it’s too bad he ate it out of a can. Fresh spinach retains the delicacy of texture and green color that is lost when spinach is processed. 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 generally available. Savoy has crisp, creased curly leaves that have a springy texture. Smooth-leaf has flat, unwrinkled, spade-shaped leaves, while semi-savoy is similar in texture to savoy but is not as crinkled in appearance. Baby spinach is great for use in salads owing to its taste and delicate texture.
Spinach is said to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran). Spinach made its way to China in the 7th century when the king of Nepal sent it as a gift to this country. Spinach has a much more recent history in Europe than many other vegetables. It was only brought to that continent in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. In fact, for a while, spinach was known as “the Spanish vegetable” in England. Spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, a historical figure in the 16th century. When she left her home of Florence, Italy, to marry the king of France, she brought along her own cooks, who could prepare spinach the ways that she especially liked. Since this time, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as “a la Florentine.”
Spinach stands at the top of the ranking list amongst all for the World’s Healthiest vegetables for nutrient richness. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it is also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection. Enjoy baby spinach in your favorite salads or make a salad made exclusively of baby spinach. Spinach is one of only three vegetables that we recommend boiling to help reduce its concentration of oxalic acid. We recommend boiling for just 1 minute to minimize loss of nutrients and flavor.
Bright, vibrant-looking spinach leaves are not only more appealing to the eye but more nourishing as well. Recent research has shown that spinach leaves that look fully alive and vital has greater concentrations of vitamin C than spinach leaves that are pale in color. The study authors suggest that the greater supply of vitamin C helps protect all of the oxygen-sensitive phytonutrients in the spinach leaves and makes them looking vibrant and alive. Many people are concerned about the nutrient content of delicate vegetables (like baby spinach) when those vegetables are placed in clear plastic containers in grocery store display cases and continuously exposed to artificial lighting.
Popeye was not the only believer in the plentiful benefits of spinach. Nutritionists and dieticians, and increasingly the medical profession as a whole have come to understand that spinach truly is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. A daily spinach recipe in your diet is a vital part of your ongoing health and vitality. A variety of dishes can be prepared with this amazing green like the palak dal (spinach with lentils), Palak paneer (spinach with cottage cheese), Khatti palak chutney chukka koora and palak curry and many more.
Spinach is low in calories, yet extremely high in vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients (natural plant chemicals with human nutritional value.). It is readily accessible to all, available almost everywhere in the world today as a whole food, rather than only as a processed supplement, and is a low priced vegetable that everyone can afford – or even grow spinach in your own back yard. Spinach is versatile and can be eaten cooked as a vegetable, raw in salads (a superior alternative to low nutrient iceberg lettuce) and in many other recipe forms.
Spinach is an excellent source of bone-healthy vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and calcium; heart-healthy folate, potassium, and vitamin B6; energy-producing iron and vitamin B2; and free radical-scavenging vitamin A (through its concentration of beta-carotene) and vitamin C. It is a very good source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber, muscle-building protein, energy-producing phosphorus, and the antioxidants copper, zinc and vitamin E. In addition, it is a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and heart-healthy niacin and selenium.
Spinach has a high nutritional value the % RDA for an adult per 100 gram spinach (raw):
Vitamin A – 52%
Folate (Vit B9) – 49%
Vitamin C – 47%
Vitamin E – 13%
Vitamin K – 460%
Calcium – 10%
Iron – 22%