Spinach

Health benefits of spinach

SpinachSpinach might be known as the super-food in the world. The super-food is commonly eaten in cartoons and gives the characters super-powers. While it might not actually give you super-powers, it will give your immune system a boost as well as provide you with a range of other health benefits. These health benefits as well as the history and a few recipes with spinach will be addressed in this article.

Description

Spinach is known for being the bright green leafy vegetable. While one might think that spinach belongs together with other well-known green leafy vegetables, this is not the case. Spinach belongs to a different food family than many other green leafy vegetables. Many of these leafy vegetables are called cruciferous vegetables. Some of the vegetables are collard greens, kale, turnip green, arugula and mustard. However, spinach is not considered to be a cruciferous vegetable. Instead it belongs to the family which is known as the chenopod or amaranth family. The scientific name of this family is Chenopodiaceae, however not many people refer to the scientific name of this plant. Other vegetables which belong to this group as well are Swiss chard and beet greens. Beets are also considered to be part of this food family. Moreover, foods which belong to the chenopod family extend beyond this vegetable group. For example, grains such as quinoa and amaranth also belong to this family group. There are different types of spinach. Some of the most commonly used types of spinach are savoy, semi-savoy and flat-leafed. More information about these different types of spinach will be provided later in this article.

Different types of spinach

You will sometimes also hear that spinach varieties are referred to by color. For example, some of the types of spinach that you might hear are purple passion spinach or red mountain spinach. These types of spinach also belong to the chenopod family, but they do not belong to the same species as green spinach. The purple passion and red mountain spinach actually belong the species which is known as Atriplex hortensis within the chenopod family. Another way people refer to spinach is either by calling it Malabar or New Zealand spinach. These types of spinach belong to a different food family that then chenopod family. The group to which these types of spinach belong is called Basellaceae family. It is often to distinguish these types of spinach from the spinach you buy in the supermarket since the leaves look very similar. However, the spinach which is called Malabar or New Zealand spinach grown on a vine and also has its own unique composition of nutrients. Generally, spinach is a crop which grows during the cold season. Also, it is a crop which is sensitive to hear. It can also be said that it is a crop which is relatively fast-growing. Due to the fact that it grows fast and its susceptibility to heat, spinach can quickly form seeds and flowers. This process of seed development is also known as bolting. Since spinach is quick to bolt, farmers often refer to spinach varieties as being slow-bolting or fast-bolting. Spinach which is slow-bolting is considered to be more resistant to heat and also slower to form flowers. Fast-bolting spinach, on the other hand, is not very resistant to heat and is actually quick to form seeds and flowers.

History

Spinach is considered to be native to the region of the Middle East. It is estimated that spinach has been cultivated in this region for more than a thousand years. Moreover, it is said that trading between Asia and the Middle East has led to spinach being introduced in various Asian countries. Spinach is currently used in almost every country in the world and is widely available. In Asian countries, spinach is often steamed and cooked in combination with rice. In many African countries, spinach also plays an important role in people’s everyday diet. Also in the Western world does spinach play an important role. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that the average adults consumes about 1,7 pounds of spinach. The state which is responsible for growing most spinach is California. More than 45,000 acres are used for producing spinach. Other states which also grow spinach are New Jersey, Arizona and Texas. All these states together account for 98% of the spinach grown in the United States. On a global scale, the country which produces most spinach is China. Turkey and Japan are also among the top spinach producers in the world.


Protection against cancer

Various studies have confirmed that consuming leafy greens on a regular basis can play a role in preventing different types of cancer. Not only are leafy green vegetables important, but also cruciferous vegetables are said to have a similar effect. Vegetables such as mustard greens, collards, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach can protect the body against various types of cancers. Research has mainly been conducted on the influence of these vegetables on prostate, breast and colon cancer. One of the effects of spinach is that it can slow down the development of cancerous cells. This is due to the fact that it protects DNA from being damaged. Moreover, it also limits oxidative stress. It limits this through the presence of antioxidants, violaxanthin and neoxanthin. According to one of the studies conducted on this topic, carotenoids which are to be found in spinach protects the cells from mutating. If cells mutate, on the long term this could cause cancerous tumor growth. Two other nutrients which are found in spinach are chlorophyll and chloroplast. Different studies have found that these specific properties also act as protectors against cancer. They can protect the body by extracting carcinogenic substances from the body. By doing so, it does not only detoxify the body but it also helps to reduce inflammation. Another health benefit of spinach is that it contains high levels of vitamin A and vitamin C. These two specific vitamins are considered to be play a crucial role in maintaining a strong immune system. The antioxidants of these vitamins help to give your immune system a boost and help you fight viruses, toxins and other harmful invaders. Spinach also protects immunity by reducing cell damage and helping the digestive system. Helping the digestive system is especially important since this is where the nutrients are absorbed from food. Another area in which spinach plays a role is in protecting the skin, eyes and oral health. The antioxidants help to protect oral health by providing protection against gum disease and infections of the gum.

Other health benefits of spinach

Spinach is also a source of vitamin K. This vitamin is an essential vitamin since it helps to keep the bones in the body healthy. Moreover, vitamin K is also needed to keep the overall skeletal structure healthy as well as prevent certain conditions related to bone health. Some of these conditions include the loss in bone mineral density and bone fractures. Vitamin K is also said to play a role in blood clotting as well as turning off inflammation in the body. As mentioned, vitamin A and vitamin C are also to be found in spinach. While these two nutrients play a crucial in maintaining a healthy immune system, they also help to fight UV light damage. Exposure to UV light could cause skin cancer on the long term. By consuming spinach regularly, antioxidants which are present in spinach can help to foster the growth of new skin cells. Also, they can help to support the production of collagen. Collagen is responsible for the elasticity of the skin as well as its youthful appearance. Thus, if you want your skin to be naturally glowing and increase its immunity, it is recommended to eat spinach as well as other foods which are a source of antioxidants.

Recipes with spinach

Spinach can be said to be a versatile food since it can be used in many different ways. You can either eat it raw as part of a salad, you can mix it in your vegetable stir fry or you can add it to your morning smoothie. The taste of spinach will become stronger and might seem more acidic once it has been cooked. Spinach is known for being a vegetable which actually become more beneficial once it has been cooked. This is due to the fact that some of the nutrients which are to be found in spinach can be more easily absorbed by the body. Boiling or sautéing spinach for only one minute is already enough to achieve this. By boiling it for this short period of time, not only will you improve the absorbability of the crop but you will also prevent the antioxidants from being destroyed. You can prepare spinach its fresh, frozen or canned forms. However, it is recommended to either use fresh or frozen spinach. In this way you will ensure that most of the nutrients remain intact. Also, in this way you will also ensure that the least amount of toxins or pesticides are present. As mentioned, spinach is also ideal in smoothies since it does not have a bitter taste like some other green vegetables. Due to this it can easily be disguised in smoothies in combination with other ingredients such as bananas or berries.

How to select and store

Fresh spinach can be bought throughout the year. However, the primary season of spinach is from early spring to May. The next season runs from September until October. If you want to use spinach outside these seasons, you will be able to find spinach either in its frozen form or as a canned variety. There are there main types of spinach, namely savoy, semi-savoy or flat spinach. The type of spinach which is most commonly found in supermarkets is savoy spinach. Compared to the other types of spinach, the leaves of savoy spinach are curlier and it also has a milder taste. Flat spinach, on the other hand, is usually produced in order for it to be used in frozen spinach products or for canned spinach. Semi-savoy spinach can be used for both purposes but it not commonly used. There are a few things you should pay attention to when buying spinach. When buying spinach in the supermarket, make sure that the leaves have a deep and vibrant green color. Leaves which look wet or have brown spots should be avoided. Spinach is also known for easily holding bacteria. It is therefore important that you wash spinach a couple of times before using it. If possible, buy organic spinach since you will be ensured that the crop has not been exposed to pesticides. Moreover, it is not recommended to wash spinach before you want to store it. Once spinach has been washed, it can go bad quicker. Furthermore, try and consume spinach within a couple of days after you have bought it since that is when it will have all its nutrients.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 831x
Added: 08-02-2017 16:45
Last modified: 21-04-2017 09:05

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