Popeye was on to something. You may not suddenly develop over-the top bulging biceps like he did, but spinach is an effective way to boost energy naturally. It’s loaded with so many good things, if it’s not on your menu regularly, it should be!
History of a Superfood
Spinach originated in central and southwestern Asia. Though it typically did not grow well in hot climates, Arab ingenuity using sophisticated irrigation techniques in the eight century AD enabled it to be successfully cultivated throughout the Mediterranean. It quickly spread across the globe with mention of it in the 12th century, dubbed “the captain of leafy greens” by the Arab agronomist Ibn al-‘Awwam. It is listed as an ingredient in dishes prepared in the 13th century, as part of vegetable gardens in the 15th century, 17th century, and it remains a hearty vegetable used in dishes around the world. The French call spinach the broom of the stomach.
The Many Health Benefits of Spinach
Those bright, vibrant green leaves pack a powerful nutritional punch and are renowned for their ability to boost energy naturally. They are loaded with nutrients like:
- Vitamin C, K, B12, B1 B2, B6
- Phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin
- Glycoglycerolipids – a compound found to help protect the lining of the digestive tract from inflammation damage
A common cause of low energy is iron deficiency; spinach a good dietary staple as a plant-based source of this important nutrient, which is critical to the production of abundant healthy red blood cells. The vitamin K is important for good bone health and lutein helps in maintaining eye health. Spinach also provides lots of antioxidants to hasten cell repair and is a healthy source of fiber.
Many Ways to Enjoy Spinach
You can get spinach canned (Popeye’s preference but the least appetizing), frozen and fresh. Fresh raw spinach is best, and use organic whenever possible. Choose the bunch with dark green, firm leaves with the stems till attached. Avoid any with a mushy texture or with brown or yellow spots on the leaves. Baby spinach has more tender leaves and a more delicate taste.
Store unwashed spinach in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you plan to use it, keeping in mind it starts to lose nutrients after four days. Wash it thoroughly and remove the stems (optional unless you are adding it to a smoothie) and let it drain before eating it raw or cooking it.
You can add spinach to any number of dishes whether they are baked, sautéed or boiled. It’s also a great addition to smoothies, adding nutrients, giving them a lovely color but with a mild taste that combines well with fruit, yogurt and whatever else you blend with it. You’ll boost energy naturally and enjoy a tasty snack in the process.