Fruits & Vegetables
Health Recipes and Spinach Salad
Spinach is a leafy vegetable with a whole range of excellent health benefits. It is mild flavoured, and has succulent leaves which are deep green in colour. It traces its origins back to Persia, but was cultivated widely all over Europe by the 15th century.
Varieties of Spinach
Spinach leaves can either be flat or slightly crinkled. Spinach can be purchased fresh, canned or frozen. Fresh spinach can be sold in bunches. Or it can be already washed, and sealed in plastic bags. Spinach is also often available as baby spinach (often used in salads). Other greens are sold separately, such as New Zealand Spinach, which comes from a different plant family.
Availability and storage of Spinach
Spinach grows best in cool weather, therefore it is best in and spring. However, it is available in other parts of the year, as well. At its best, spinach should be bright green and slightly crisp. Avoid yellowing or rotting leaves. When storing, wrap the unwashed spinach in a paper towel, and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Spinach should be used up within two to four days, depending on how fresh it is when purchasing.
Nutrition & Health Benefits of Spinach
Spinach is a powerhouse of health among leafy green vegetables. In fact, it ranks second behind kale in total health-promoting carotenoids and folate and third in total antioxidants behind garlic and kale. However, like other leafy green vegetables, spinach loses its nutritional value the longer it stays refrigerated. To get the best nutritive value out of fresh spinach, it should be used as soon as possible after it is purchased.
The health benefits of spinach are many. It is loaded with a whole host of vitamins, including Vitamin B, folate, iron, as well as the photochemical lutein and zeaxanthin. Folate is associated with a reduction in blood levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid that has been associated with cardiovascular disease. Zeaxanthin is linked with a lower risk of macular degeneration, a condition which can lead to blindness. Spinach has also been regarded a fighter of cancer.
Being rich in fiber, it has long been considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. Research has proven that spinach may reduce ischemic stroke-induced brain damage, which occurs when the arteries are blocked by a blood clot, impeding the oxygen supply to the brain. In addition to all this, it low in calories (only about 41 calories per cup), so it is also a dieter’s dream!