[veggie photo]

Spinach

Young, tender spinach leaves are delicious raw or cooked. The older the spinach, the more bitter the taste. To avoid overcooking, try steaming or stir-fry. These cooking methods preserve the fragile texture of the spinach leaves and minimize the loss of water-soluble vitamins. Although some of the nutrients are lost in cooking, 1/2 cup of cooked spinach is equal in volume to 2 cups of fresh spinach. Be sure to use as little water as possible in cooking spinach.

Key Ingredients of Spinach

Per Serving: 250ml chopped, raw, spinach, 59g
Per Serving: 100g, raw spinach

Why Eat Spinach?

Spinach, like all fruits and vegetables is low in calories, high in complex carbohydrates, contains no cholesterol and almost no fat. The vegetable's dark green leaves contain many valuable nutrients, especially the antioxidant carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, manganese, and magnesium. It is a source of fibre, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Contrary to popular belief, spinach is not an excellent source of iron. Spinach does contain iron and calcium, but their absorption into the body is hindered by the presence of oxalic acid. Eating spinach with other foods that are high in vitamin C can increase absorption.

Antioxidants

Spinach supplies a significant source of antioxidants to the body. Antioxidants are nutrients that play an important role in health maintenance. They neutralize harmful chemicals called "free-radicals" that cause cell damage in the body. Antioxidants have been strongly linked to the protection from numerous diseases from heart disease to cancer, eye disease and regulation of the immune system.

Carotenoids Lutein & Zeaxanthin: Spinach has added antioxidant ability because of the lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidant carotenoids that protect the eyes from damage, and may reduce the risks of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals (antioxidants) are a group of natural plant chemicals believed to be protective, disease-preventing ingredients found in all fruits and vegetables. Spinach is packed with numerous phytochemicals such as Quercetin. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the risks of heart disease and some cancers.

Phytochemicals are involved in many processes including decreasing cholesterol levels and preventing cell damage. They are associated with the prevention and treatment of at least four leading causes of death - cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

Vitamin A

Spinach is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin A, one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Excess amounts are stored in the liver and fatty tissue. It plays a significant role in fending off infections and illness. The body needs vitamin A for growth and repair. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant that protects cells from oxidation damage. Vitamin A is essential for normal vision and is necessary for normal cell growth and division, the development of bones and teeth, and for the health of skin, mucous membranes and the tissue that lines the intestines, airways and other organs.

Vitamin C

Spinach is a source of vitamin C, a water-soluble essential nutrient. It must be renewed regularly since it is not stored in the body. Vitamin C is necessary to make and maintain collagen, the connective tissue that holds the body and organs in place. Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds, keeps gums healthy, and helps to resist infection, aids in the absorption of iron and many other vital functions. It is associated with lowering the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Dietary Fibre

Spinach is a source of fibre. Dietary fibre consists of remnants of edible plant cells that resist digestion and absorption in the stomach and small intestines of humans. There are two different types of fibre. Both types are needed in a healthy diet. Insoluble fibre is "bowel friendly" because it helps maintain regularity. Insoluble fibre is found in some vegetables and fruit (especially the skins). Soluble fibre, and it is "heart friendly". It may help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risks associated with diabetes by helping control blood sugar levels. All foods that contain fibre contain some of each type. Most high fibre foods contain more insoluble fibre than soluble fibre.

Recent research has shown that dietary fibre contained in fruits and vegetables is also important for keeping the bowel working normally and helps protect bowel cells from cancer-causing damage.

Vitamin K

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, which ends up in the liver and forms the ingredients for blood clotting. Blood coagulation is not the only important function of Vitamin K, it is also necessary for the formation of new bone material and healthy bone structure.

Folate

Spinach is an excellent source of folate, a water-soluble B group vitamin. Because the body doesn't keep excess amounts of the water-soluble vitamins in reserve, the body must replenish them daily. Folate plays a crucial role in every body function that requires cell division. This helps explain the importance in fetal development. Prior and during pregnancy, folate helps prevent neurological defects, such as spina bifida, in the fetus. All women of childbearing age need to have a regular source of folate.

The many tasks of folate include making blood cells, building muscles, healing wound and producing chemicals that keep the brain and nervous system functioning properly. Folate is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system. High folate content is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Manganese

Spinach is an excellent source of manganese, a mineral element, essential for metabolism, and bone and tendon development.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral for the human body. Spinach is an excellent source of magnesium, needed for the formation of protein and bone, making new cells, activating B vitamins and blood clotting.

Vitamin B6

Spinach is a source of Vitamin B6, needed in the body to release energy in forms that the cells can use. It is instrumental in the functioning of the nervous and immune systems and the manufacture of red blood cells.