food of the week: spinach
Spinach is often overlooked. Kale has stolen the spotlight and has taken over as a very popular leafy green. Kale is definitely healthy and a great addition to your diet, but don’t forget about versatile spinach!
When it comes to choosing leafy greens, I always say the darker, the better! Usually the greens with the darker, more vibrant colors contain a bit more nutrition. Spinach is a great example.
Spinach gets its bright green color from chlorophyll, a plant pigment responsible for most plants’ green hues. Consuming chlorophyll is important for optimal health. Chlorophyll can be found in plants like parsley, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and of course spinach.
Benefits of consuming chlorophyll can include decreased risk for cancer (due to fighting free radical damage and increasing oxygen transfer among blood cells), promoting longevity, decreasing body odor, as well as managing weight and arthritis. You can read more about these potential benefits here. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest taking chlorophyll supplements, but instead making sure that you eat greens weekly. Having a variety of green vegetables in your everyday diet is essential for great health.
Back to spinach! Because of spinach’s rich green color, you may not think of it as a great source of beta-carotene (that orange pigment mentioned in my post about sweet potatoes), but it is! Spinach is a good source of vitamin A. The chlorophyll pigment just overrides the beta-carotene in the color department!
Besides chlorophyll and beta-carotene, spinach is also a good source of vitamins C and K, folate, calcium, and iron. The amount of calcium and iron that is absorbed by our bodies from spinach is somewhat debatable, though. See this helpful article here if you want to know more.
There are two types of iron- from plant and animal sources. Iron from animal sources tends to be absorbed more easily by our bodies. But this does not mean that seeking iron from plant sources is a waste, it is still important and helpful to our bodies. Grinding spinach in the blender or cooking it helps the iron and calcium to become more bioavailable.
Besides the above mentioned nutrients, spinach also is a decent source of manganese, magnesium, copper, potassium, and fiber. You can see that spinach is a powerhouse full of nutrients that our bodies need. I recommend adding spinach to your weekly diet and then switching it in and out in a rotation of leafy greens. Dark green vegetables are so important for detoxification, energy levels, satiety, and getting necessary nutrition.
Spinach makes a great base for salads, an easy addition to a soup or smoothie, a nice leafy green on a sandwich, or a great side dish. It can easily be enjoyed raw or cooked. Here are some recipes for you to try out if you’re not sure how to eat spinach: