Spinach – The Green Wonder!

October 3rd, 2012

Another superfood to the rescue! Spinach is synonymous with Popeye, the retro cartoon that depicts a scrawny guy who turns into a muscle man after eating a can of spinach. It does pack quite the nutritional punch and is enjoyed across the globe in many different cuisines.

History

The word “spinach” is derived from the Persian word ispanai (meaning “green hand”) which evolved into spanachia in Latin and spinach in English.

Thought to have originated in ancient Persia, it was cultivated there more than 2,000 years ago. It then made its way to China in the 7th century as a gift from the King of Nepal. Europeans began to cultivate spinach in the 11th century when the Moors brought the vegetable to Spain. It was known as “the Spanish vegetable” in England for a while!

In the 16th century, spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici of the famous Italian Renaissance Medici family. When she left her home in Florence to marry the king of France, she brought her cooks along so that they can prepare the spinach dishes she loved. She was the inspiration behind the phrase “a la Florentine,” describing dishes prepared on a bed of spinach.

Spinach became popular in America in the 1800s. In the 1920s, the US bolstered the commercial appeal of spinach. Even pop culture icons like Popeye the Sailorman advocated for spinach consumption!

Nutritional Value

Spinach is packed with nutrients for bone health such as vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, and manganese, as well as heart-healthy nutrients such as folate, potassium, and vitamin B6. Not only does it protect your heart and bones, it also provides your body with iron, vitamins A, B2, C, and E, fiber, protein, copper, and zinc. To top it all off, spinach is a great source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Spinach Fun Facts:

  • The Arabs called it “the prince of vegetables.”
  • The Chinese call it the “herb of Persia.”
  • Back in the 11th century, the English called it “the Spanish vegetable.”
  • It belongs to the same family as Swiss chard and beets.
  • Spinach grows quickly. It can be harvested in 37 to 45 days!

 

Spinach can be eaten raw or cooked. Lightly sautéed, stir-fried, or baked in quiches and pies, Spinach is enjoyed by many different cultures due to its versatility and mild flavor. Baby spinach is lovely on salads. Check out our spinach, kale and strawberry salad recipe for a sweet and savory treat!

 

Article by Heather Teoh

 

References

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43

http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/id/15/

http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/hsmrs/Middle_School_Nutrition_Marketing/Middle_School_Marketing_Spinach.pdf

http://senecacountycce.org/pdfs/p-c_headstart_spinach.pdf

 

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