Spinach, one of the “super foods” out there. It is also probably one of the most known. Even Popeye became famous for eating his can of spinach and growing big and strong and able to defeat the bad guys to save Olive.
But what really is in spinach that makes it so healthy? Do you have to eat it raw to get all the benefits? These are all things that we will look at and more while you decide if you want to eat spinach for health.
Spinach is believed to originated in Persia, where it then made its way East to India and China around 674 AD. Then its spread even farther and made its way into Sicily and the Mediterranean in 847 AD. It continued its spread through Europe and eventually made its way into France and England in the 14th century.
One of the reasons that spinach spread so far and so fast was because of many reasons. First it is an early spring crop. Before refrigeration, foods had to be eaten relatively soon after being picked and harvested. Fresh fruits and vegetables didn’t store well for long periods and went rotten.
In the early months of spring right after winter, not many crops are available to be harvested. Spinach was an exception and grace many a table at this time of year when other crops were still growing. It is a fast growing crop and is easy to cultivate.
Raw spinach consists of 91% water, 4% carbohydrates, 3% protein and trace amounts of fat. In a single serving of spinach (100g or 3.5 oz), you can expect to find 460% Vitamin K, 59% Vitamin A, 52% Beta Carotene, 49% B9, 34% Vitamin C, 16% B2, 15% B6, 13% Vitamin E, 7% B1, and 5% B3 of your recommended daily intake of vitamins.
It also contains 43% Manganese, 22% Magnesium, 21% Iron, 12% Potassium, 10% Calcium, 7% Phosphorus, 6% Zinc, and 5% Sodium. All these percentages are based on consumption of a 2000 calorie a day diet.
Considering it has all of that in just one serving, no wonder it is called a super food!
The great debate; whether to eat your health foods raw or cooked. A lot of people think that raw is the way to go. The food is in its most natural state and will be best for your body.
On the other hand, if you cook food, it can release bonds in the food that makes it easier to digest and therefore easier to absorb the nutrients that are in the food. The main downside to cooking food is that some nutrients get destroyed when exposed to heat, or cooked.
Unfortunately the only vitamins that aren’t destroyed by heat are Vitamins B2, B7, and D. The minerals are not destroyed by cooking as they are elements.
So depending on what you are adding the spinach to your diet for will dictate if you can or shouldn’t cook the spinach. If you want the vitamin boosts, then you are going to want to eat the spinach raw. If you are just going for the minerals then it is alright to cook the spinach.
An important thing to keep in mind is that it is not absolute when you cook stuff. The more you cook the food the more of the nutrients will be destroyed. Conversely, the less you cook the food, the more of the nutrients will be retained in the food. Unfortunately there is no real way to calculate how much cooking destroys how much nutrients.
I prefer to look at as more of and ‘all or nothing’ type of deal. If you want to vitamins, don’t cook the spinach. If you are looking only for the minerals from the spinach, go ahead and cook it if you want to.
Simple Spinach Sautee
Spinach is a wonderfully diverse and healthy ‘super food’ that you can easily add you any meal, even dessert! It packs a huge punch of vitamins and nutrients that are good for your health every day. I try to include it in a meal some way at least every other day so that I can have the benefits of all the nutrients spinach has to offer.
As always, please consult your doctor before changing or starting any new diet plan or menu change. Your doctor should always be included to help you get the most of what you want to accomplish and to make sure no changes are dangerous or interfere with current treatments.
I would love to hear from you! Any questions or comments are welcome, and I would love to hear how you include spinach in your meals 🙂