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The Veg Table: Spinach

September 18, 2011

Ah spinach… what comes to mind when you think of the word?

Turning up your nose as a child?

Images of deer grazing in a field?

Maybe this guy?

Although spinach is often thought of as the curse word of vegetables, I think that it’s image has improved in recent days. A trip through grocery store aisles reveals spinach added into many a dish, often with a somewhat “classy” vibe about it. But why should we face our childhood fears and enjoy this leafy green as part of our diet? Read on…

Benefits of Spinach

  • Nutrients – According to Wikipedia, “It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium,potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium andomega-3 fatty acids.” It is also very high in iron and calcium, although it is not the best source for these minerals, as they tend to be largely unabsorbed by the body from this source.
  • Antioxidants – From livestrong.com – “Spinach contains more than a dozen individual flavonoid compounds, which work together as cancer-fighting antioxidants. These elements neutralize free radicals in the body and thus help to prevent cancer.” These antioxidants can also improve cardiovascular health and improve brain function.
  • Fiber – One cup of spinach provides about 20% of your daily value of fiber. Compare that to 35% of your DV of fiber in a Fiber One bar, which is also full of 10 grams of sugar and a host of other questionable items in the ingredient list.
Check this out for a full nutritional profile of spinach. A quick google search reveals plenty more info on the healthy benefits of spinach, many stating it is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.
Take note that three of the big nutrients in spinach are fat soluble vitamins. This means you can throw silly things like low fat dressings and margarine out the door. You will get better absorption of nutrients using full fat accompaniments. Also, some people recommend a quick (1 minute) boiling of spinach to reduce it’s content of oxalic acid, although this can lead to a reduction in some nutrients.
Eating Spinach
One of my favorite things about spinach is it’s versatility. It is easily added into many dishes you already know and love. Because of this, it is one of our “always on hand” foods.Try chopping it up and throwing it in a soup, noodle dish, or scrambled eggs. Add it to your salad or on your favorite sandwich. You can’t really go wrong.
Later this week I will post a few of our favorite ways to eat spinach and I would love to hear of other’s favorite ways as well!
veg out,
Liz
Wondering what The Veg Table is? Check it out here.
Please note that, as much as I wish I was, I am not a licensed nutritionist, nor do I have hours a day to pour over scholarly journals. These are just my thoughts and findings, compiled from other blogs, google searches, and years of reading various books. 
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