Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spinach - Popeye's Green Power!

And it is green power indeed! There are good reasons why Popeye gets his muscles after downing a can of spinach.

Spinach is a hearty green vegetable that is available all year round and can be found fresh, canned or in frozen form. It is very popular in both Southeast Asian countries as well as here in North America, although slightly different varieties.

Spinach is one of the most nutritious and healthy greens among all vegetables. I remember my mum specifically telling me to eat more of them after my surgeries. It is an excellent source of iron, in the form that is easily absorbed by your body. It is also extremely rich in anti-oxidants especially when fresh, steamed or quickly boiled. You also get tons of Vitamin A, B2, B6, E and K, beta-carotene, magnesium, manganese, folate, potassium, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega 3-fatty acids.

Nutritional benefits
As a result of all the nutrients found in this powerful green vegetable, spinach is good for your eyes, heart, bones and liver:

1. The vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein are good for your eyes, especially when cooked. It can prevent itching eyes, eye ulcers and dry eyes
2. The potassium and folate are beneficial to regulating blood flow and blood pressure
3. The anti-oxidant Co-Q10, plays an important role in strengthening muscles especially muscles of the heart
4. The lutein reduces cholesterol and other fat deposits in the blood vessels, thus reducing the occurrence of atherosclerosis, heart attack as well as stroke
5. Vitamin K helps retain calcium in the bone matrix, thereby leading to bone mineralization. Manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus also help build strong bones
6. The folate, tocopherol and chlorophyllin also act via different mechanisms to treat and protect patients suffering from cancer

Different kinds of spinach
The kinds of spinach you typically get here in North America are slightly different from those that are commonly found in Asia. The following are the 3 types you commonly get here in North America:

• Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets

• Flat/smooth leaf spinach has broad smooth leaves that are easier to clean than savoy. This is the baby spinach that you can easily get in supermarkets. This type is often grown for canned and frozen spinach, as well as soups, baby foods, and processed foods.
• Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean. It is grown for both fresh market and processing.

In Asia, we call it Chinese Spinach. And below are the 2 common varieties:

Buying and storing
If you have a super busy lifestyle like mine, for convience, buy fresh spinach ready washed and cut. It will cut down your dinner preparation time by half. Trust me. Don't let your busy lifestyle be an excuse to eat frozen dinners.

Fresh spinach can keep in the crisper section of the fridge for about 3 to 4 days for optimum flavor and nutrition. You can still eat them on Day 5 through 7 but try to finish them up within 3 to 4 days. Frozen spinach keeps longer but they really don't taste as great. If you travel for work as much as I do, get a small packet of fresh, ready to cook and eat spinach (about 3 to 4 cups) and use them over 2 to 3 meals.

Try out my easy spinach recipes to enjoy the nutritional benefits of this super vegetable.

1. Tomato Spinach Omelete
2. Pan-seared salmon with spinach

1 comment:

Your Wonderful Sis said...

I used to think spinach is one of God's worst invention. After eating the tomato and spinach omelette, I think spinach is one God-sent vege for earthlings like me.. haha