When was the last time you bought spinach…that poor, under appreciated green?
It doesn’t hold the superfood luster of kale or the of-the-moment popularity of the newly polished Brussels sprout but boy, does spinach deserve to be on heavy rotation in your house! Those vibrant, green leaves are insanely nutritious and belong to the same superfood family as beets, chard, and quinoa. It’s in season now…so here is why you should get more of this leafy, green goodness into your diet.
The anti-inflammatory all star
Spinach is an incredibly nutrient-dense pick. Rich in vitamins C, E, K, and A to name a few, it is also packed with minerals such as calcium, zinc, folate, and selenium. The carotenoids and flavonoids in spinach have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that these phyto-chemicals are involved in slowing cell division in human stomach cancer cells and have a role in fighting aggressive prostate cancers. Many of these phyto-chemicals and vitamins also serve as antioxidants, which have been associated with protecting against oxidative stress in blood vessels which decreases the risk of high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. The presence of peptides in spinach (small protein fragments), have also been associated with keeping high blood pressure at bay. Finally, the vitamin K in spinach is involved in helping prevent the breakdown of bones and supports healthy blood clotting (but its also why you have to watch spinach intake when you’re on blood thinners)
Making spinach a habit
To choose your spinach, pick ones with vibrant, green leaves that don’t have yellowing stems. Avoid washing your spinach before storing it in the fridge, as moisture on the leaves tends to promote faster spoilage. When it’s time to eat, make sure that it’s washed thoroughly, as the leaves tend to collect a hefty amount of sand and soil. While rinsing, try not to leave it too long in the water as water-soluble nutrients on the leaves can leak into the water. If you are tight on time, you can buy pre washed baby spinach but field spinach saves you $$$ and has a richer flavour.
While we may commonly believe that raw vegetables are more nutritious, in the case of spinach, the cooked version has a lot going for it. Cooking spinach releases the antioxidants to make them more bioavailable and helps unhinge oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of minerals. Try spinach steamed or lightly sautéed for benefits.
The versatility of spinach makes it easy to incorporate into your meals. Sneak greens into your smoothies or whip up a spinach salad in seconds using pre-washed baby varieties. Use spinach in pasta sauces, soups, dips, and sandwiches or add them to your frittata.