Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach, provide more nutrients than many other groups. Spinach is nearly at the top of the list for one of the most nutrient-rich foods.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron, compared to meats, is very low in calories and virtually fat free. It is an excellent source of phytonutrients, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which provide antioxidant protection. Spinach also contains over a dozen different flavonoid phytonutrients that function as anti-inflammatory compounds.
One concern of spinach is that it is a concentrated source of oxalates, which when accumulated may place the kidneys, of certain individuals, at risk of calcium oxalate kidney stone formation due to supersaturation of urine with calcium oxalate salts.
Nutrient and Health Benefits
Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay. Spinach, being on the dirty dozen, retains a significant amount of pesticide residue. Therefore, as with all vegetables, it is recommended to select certified organically grown spinach when possible.
Do not wash spinach before storing as the exposure to water encourages spoilage. Place spinach in a plastic storage bag and wrap the bag tightly around the spinach, squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Place in refrigerator where it will keep fresh for up to 5 days. Avoid storing cooked spinach as it will not keep very well.
Spinach should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. Before washing, trim off the roots and separate the leaves. Place the spinach in a large bowl of tepid water and swish the leaves around with your hands as this will allow any dirt to become dislodged. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water. Spinach sold in bags has been pre-washed and only needs to be rinsed. If you are going to use it in a salad, dry it using a salad spinner or by shaking it in a colander.
Spinach is only one of three vegetables that is recommended to boil in order to free up acids and allow them to leach into the boiling water; this brings out a sweeter taste from the spinach. Discard the boiling water after cooking; do not drink it or use it for stock because of its acid content. Use a large pot (3 quart) with lots of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add spinach to the boiling water. Bring water back to boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove spinach from pot, press out liquid with a fork and place in a bowl.
Mateljan, G. (2017). Spinach. [online] Whfoods.com. Available at: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
Mercola.com. (2017). What Is Spinach Good For? - Mercola.com. [online] Available at: http://foodfacts.mercola.com/spinach.html [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
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