Spinach is one of the healthiest foods in the world, used for its amazing nutritive properties, abundance of vitamins and minerals and crispy, fresh taste. It belongs to the leafy greens group of vegetables and it’s a welcome ingredient in many salads, side and main dishes, smoothies etc. Spinach is usually available all year round, but it’s the freshest from May to September in the Southern hemisphere and just after winter in the Northern hemisphere.

100 grams of fresh spinach leaves contain just 23 calories and lots of dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Spinach is also one of the richest foods with iron – it provides nearly 25% of the daily recommended dosage. Iron is required for the production of red blood cells and acts as a co-factor for the cytochrome oxidase antioxidant enzyme.

There are many vitamins in spinach such as vitamin C and A. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights harmful free radicals in the body, it boosts the immune system by fighting infections and inflammations and it helps iron absorption in the intestines. Vitamin A is great for the eyesight and the flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants zea xanthin, beta carotene and lutein are great antioxidants and have a healing role in diseases, aging etc. In addition, vitamin A can maintain the health of the skin and mucus membranes and can protect us from oral and lung cancers. Zea xanthin, a vital carotenoid, is absorbed in the retinal macula lutea (in the eye) and it protects the eyes and retina from free radicals and provides filtering of light. This is why it’s used in the elderly to prevent ARMD (age-related macular disease).

Vitamin K in spinach is present with 402% of the recommended daily dosage. Being this rich in vitamin K, spinach is recommended for healthy bones and since vitamin K is essential for limiting neuronal brain damage, it’s used for treating Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Spinach contains B complex vitamins as well: B6 (pyridoxine), B1 (thiamin), folates, riboflavin etc. These compounds help the fetus develop properly by preventing any neural tube defects. Spinach also contains many minerals such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese etc. Potassium is an electrolyte that controls the blood pressure and heart rate; zinc is an important mineral for proper development and growth, for good digestion, sperm generation etc.; copper and manganese are co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase etc. Spinach is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

In general, spinach can prevent iron deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, colon and prostate cancers, cardiovascular diseases etc.

Spinach is at its freshest in the winter months. Fresh, healthy spinach leaves have a beautiful dark green color, crispiness, vitality etc. Avoid leaves that are sunken and dull, with spots and discoloration. At home, rinse the spinach under running water to remove dirt, dust, pesticide and insecticide residues. Store in the fridge where it can stay fresh for one week, but to ensure maximum freshness, use it as soon as possible.

The nutritive value for 100 grams of spinach is as follows:

  • 23 kcal

  • Dietary fiber: 2.2 grams

  • Protein: 2.86 grams

  • Carbohydrates: 3.63 grams

  • Total fat: 0.39 grams

  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Serving suggestions:

  • Fresh, in salads, in veggie burgers, in smoothies for a healthy snack

  • In the preparation of many meals, pasta, noodles, soups, baby foods, pies etc.

    (Content from http://eathealthylivefit.com)

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