Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is one of wonderful green-leafy vegetable often recognized as one of the functional foods for its wholesome nutritional, antioxidants and anti-cancer composition.
Its tender, crispy, dark-green leaves are one of the favorite ingredients of chefs all around the planet. Spinacia plant grows to about 1 foot in height. Although it can be grown year round, its fresh greens are best available soon after the winter season from March through May in the Northern hemisphere, and from September until November in the South of the equatorial line.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Healthy skin and hair: Spinach is high in vitamin A, which is necessary for sebum production to keep hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Spinach and other leafy greens high in vitamin C are imperative for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.
Iron-deficiency is a common cause of hair loss, which can be prevented by an adequate intake of iron-rich foods, like spinach.
Asthma prevention: The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is beta-carotene, of which spinach is an excellent source.
Improves Complexion: Being rich in vitamin K and folate, spinach gives you a clear complexion by minimizing acne, bruising on the skin and dark circles. The bounty of vitamin and minerals in this vegetable give you quick relief from dry itchy skin, thus providing you with a radiant complexion.
Bone health: Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk for bone fracture. Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health, as it acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption and may reduce urinary excretion of calcium.
Promotes regularity: Spinach is high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.
Uses of Spinach
Due to its excellent taste and nutritional value, spinach is a popular leaf all over the world.
Wash leaves in cold water before use. Gently pat them dry using tissue or soft cloth. Trim away tough stems. Raw leaves can be either chopped, or used as they are in variety of recipes.
Fresh, tender spinach leaves (baby spinach) can be eaten raw either in salad and vegetable burgers or as juice. Antioxidant properties may decrease significantly on steaming, frying and boiling for longer periods.
Along with other vegetables, its leaves are used in the preparation of noodles, pie, pasta, pulov, and soups as well as in the preparation of baby-foods.
Nutritional Value of Spinach
This green leafy vegetable also contains good amounts of many B-complex vitamins such as vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin, folates and niacin. Folates help prevent neural tube defects in the offspring.
Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health and it is difficult to find vegetables richer in vitamin K than spinach. Spinach also contains fiber, phosphorus and thiamine.