Belonging to the goosefoot family (Amaranthaceae Chenpodiacene) spinach (Spinacia Oleracea) derived its name from the Persian name aspanakh meaning green hand which was described by a twelfth century Arabian Ibn-al Awam as “the prince of vegetable.” author of Kital-al Agriculture (Book of Agriculture). It is believed to have originated from Persia, modern day Iran from where it was introduced to North Africa then migrated to Europe, eventually making its way to the United State in the early eighteen hundred.
There are three common types of the leafy green; savory such as Bloomsdale that is dark green with deep creases on its leaves, semi-savory which are hybrids like Catalina with a crinkly surface, and flat leaf like Red Cardinal with a smooth texture that is usually harvested as baby greens.
Edible cooked or uncooked this delightful vegetable is readily available in supermarket fresh, frozen, and canned. Based on a 2000 calorie diet uncooked per 1-1/2 cups serving size spinach has 40 calories with 19% fiber of the recommended daily value. Frozen it has 20 calories with 8% fiber per 1/3 cup serving, and canned has 30 calories with 8% fiber per 1/2 cup. Aspanakh is ideal for weight lose diets because is has dietary fiber with a low calorie count, no fat, and the iodine in it helps maintain a normal metabolism.
The drawback of aspanakh is the oxalates in it can crystallize causing bladder and kidney stones if you have issues with either one you might want to consider avoiding this vegetable. Even though it may cause stones the green hand of Persia has a high nutritional value that provides health benefits for the immune systems cardiovascular system, gastro intestinally, neurologically, and vision.
The nutritional value of Spinacia Oleracea are vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K; the minerals it has are beta-carotene, calcium, copper, foliate, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphor, potassium, and zinc; also, the Phytonutrients alpha lipoic acid, chlorophyll, Co Q10, glutathione, lutein, omega-3, and zeaxanthin have flavonoids which behave like antioxidants. This super food has the nutrients that contribute to the over all heath of your body.
The oxidation caused by metabolizing creates free radicals that damage cells by stealing electrons from their molecules. The antioxidants in spinach protect proteins and enzymes in the body from the attack. Vitamins A and C hinders the assault of free radicals by combating the oxidation of cholesterol. These rogue molecules play a major role in hyper-oxidation and inflammation.
Although, Alzheimer’s decease reduces foliates in the body spinach can increase it and there is evidence that it minimizes the decline of motor function due to aging. The anti-inflammatory compounds in the nutrients help with arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and migraine headaches. There is also evidence they assists in slowing down the decline of brain function caused from aging.
Magnesium assist in lowering blood sugar levels, lutein alleviates inflammation of atherosclerosis, Co Q10 supports white blood cells, and the overall maintenance or the heart is supported by the foliates in spinach.
In addition, spinach protects the mucous membrane of the stomach reducing the risk of ulcers. The foliates aide the colon in the prevention of cell damage and beta-carotene and vitamin C combats the destructive free radical from causing harm. The antioxidant, also cleanse and deodorize the gastrointestinal track. Lutein and zeaxanthin are potent anti-cancer agents. It has been shown that the extracts from this plant slow down the division of cancer cell in stomach cancer and helps with coronary heart disease.
The antitoxins, antioxidants, and enzyme cofactors in the glutathione support the maintenance of the immune system. Protecting the eyes from ultra violet rays the Phytonutrients alpha lipoic acid, lutein, and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of cataracts. Vitamin K fuses calcium to bones and the minerals copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, and zinc are building blocks for strong healthy bone that can prevent osteoporosis in the long run.
To get the full benefits of Spinacia Oleracea it is best to eat it as fresh as possible and uncooked. If you most cook it sauté or boil it at a minimum, the longer it is cooked the more of its nutrients are depleted. In addition, raw spinach will lose half of it nutritional value in about eight days.
With all the nutritional benefit of spinach eat a helping green hand of aspanakh the prince of vegetables.
© Samuel Vigil 2011