Superfood is a total buzz word, matcha powder, medicinal mushrooms, acai berries and chia seeds are all that, but let’s not forget the nutritional prowess and vibrant hues of things like broccoli, tomatoes and pumpkin! Good health really can be as simple as it is to get caught up in the clever marketing of new health foods.
Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive, readily available rich sources of vitamins and minerals, fibre and water. As watery bodies equipped with a digestive system that’s hungry for nutrients, fruit and vegetables really are the perfect antidote. How and why are these things so wonderful? Here are the facts behind some of our favourite Winter fruit and veg.
Made famous by Popeye and then touted for its strength-giving abilities, spinach has got some seriously healthy connotations. These connotations are indeed true, however the link between spinach and Popeye is a funny one!
A study conducted by German Chemist Erich von Wolf in 1870 examined the iron content in spinach, however von Wolf misplaced a decimal point in his calculations, recording that spinach contained 35mg of iron per 100g, as opposed to 3.5mg. This error was presumed true for 70 years before it was corrected, during which time the studio producers of Popeye choose spinach as the cartoon character’s strength-yielding trademark.
Despite this error, there’s no mistaking the health benefits of spinach, it really is a nutritional powerhouse and really can make you strong.
Fun Ways to Enjoy
Spinach is such an easy vegetable to incorporate onto the plates of even the fussiest eaters, due to the fact it has such a neutral flavour. The easiest way to do this is to blend it into sauces, dips, pancake batter and smoothies. Never mind the green-hue, some say green is the new black, and if it’s kids you’re trying to impress, simply tell them it’s ‘monster juice’ or ‘slime sauce’.
“There’s no mistaking the health benefits of spinach, it really is a nutritional powerhouse and really can make you strong.”
Up the nutrient content of already-green meals and snacks like pesto; subbing half the basil for spinach helps to reduce the cost and increases the variety of leafy greens per mouthful, which is great for gut microbial diversity. I also highly recommend adding a handful of spinach leaves to chocolate-flavored smoothies as the brown colour from the cacao will hide the spinach inclusion and your consumers will never know.
We know spinach isn’t hugely rich in iron (though it does contain some!), but it is high in vitamins A and K. Vitamins A and K are fat-soluble; in order to obtain their goodness, fat is required for absorption.
Vitamin A is a strong immune-system modulator, it is abundant in the mucosal cells that line the airways and digestive and urinary tracts, which form the body’s first line of defence against pathogens and infection.
Vitamin K plays an important role in the body’s natural blood clotting ability, without it, excessive bleeding would really be a risk. A vitamin K injection is actually recommended to newborn babies to help prevent life-threatening bleeding, as transport of vitamin K across the placenta, and the content in breastmilk is quite low.
The vibrant, consistent green hue of spinach is enough to grab the attention of any vegetable lover. How you might wonder? It’s all thanks to a wonderful thing called chlorophyll, the pigment that gives green plants and algae their colour. Plants require and use chlorophyll to help trap light during photosynthesis (a noteworthy topic in its own right!).
Chlorophyll is an incredible antioxidant, clinical trials have noted its ability to combat reactive oxygen species in an exceptionally fast fashion. Reactive oxygen species (free radicals) have the potential to damage DNA and disrupt normal cell-signaling, which are known players in the formation of metabolic diseases, like cancer.
When access to chlorophyll-containing green vegetables like spinach is so readily available, and the benefits are huge, do we really need more of a reason to jump on the spinach train?