Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wholesome Wednesdays: Spinach

I am delightfully enjoying some of the last of my garden spinach these days. I eat most of it fresh in salads, but in the winter when it's out of control i'll add some to stir fries and definitely throw in chopped spinach to quiches and egg scrambles. I love the versatility of spinach: it can be eaten in so many ways, and blends with so many ingredients, you could really eat spinach with every meal if you wanted to.

Nutrition data says this about spinach, giving it five stars for both optimal health and weight loss. Calorie Count gives spinach an A.
The World's Healthiest Foods site has the best information.

Spinach is obviously very good for you. Some of the health benefits include:
  • Cartenoids in spinach help to combat various cancers (prostate, ovarian, breast)
  • Spinach provides high doses of vitamin K:

  • The vitamin K provided by spinach-almost 200% of the Daily Value in one cup of fresh spinach leaves and over 1000% of the Daily Value in one cup of boiled spinach (which contains about 6 times as much spinach)-is important for maintaining bone health. Vitamin K1 helps prevent excessive activation of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. Additionally, friendly bacteria in our intestines convert vitamin K1 into vitamin K2, which activates osteocalcin, the major non-collagen protein in bone. Osteocalcin anchors calcium molecules inside of the bone. Spinach is also an excellent source of other bone-building nutrients including calcium and magnesium.
  • The vitamin C, A and beta-carotene in spinach help the cardiovascular system to stay healthy, as well as promoting gastrointestinal health, specifically colon health
  • Spinach can help reduce inflammation, and increase brain function
Visit the World's Healthiest foods for tons more info - but know that each bite of spinach is doing you nothing but good!

Here's to your health.
How could i forget? This blog is not just about nutrition, but about gardening and i completely left out cool season spinach's friendly cousin: Malabar (or New Zealand) Spinach. It grows like a vine, twining up and around things, so grow it on a trellis or along a fence. You can get red or green stem, plant it by seed or by transplants (i know locally the Great Outdoors and The Natural Gardener carry it in both forms). I grew some last year, and it was quite tasty and in the fall put on little berries that when crushed dyed my fingers a brilliant magenta. I hope to use some of those berries for coloring soaps or bath salts this coming fall. So don't be limited to cool weather to get your spinach kick: malabar spinach will grow all summer, look neat, and fill your plates when the cool season spinach is bolting: the little leaves are good raw and the large great in stir fry. I grew mine in a very shady place and it still grew, though not merrily. So plant it somewhere you want to do an experiment and have something for it to climb on, or space for it to spread on the ground.

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