You may remember a post we did last fall about pyrroquinoline quinine, a mighty antioxidant that protects our bodies at the cellular level and promotes the formation of new healthy cells in the brain and heart. PQQ is primarily found in leafy greens so yes; we did mention spinach in that post. And it is also true that we have done a post about leafy greens in general but I promise you, this is not a cry for help as dementia sets in and I write the same post over and over again (although I can totally see that happening, in which case… help me). We thought spinach deserved it very own spotlight since it really is one of natures healthiest foods. I mean, what did you think; Popeye was just another pretty cartoon face?
So here’s the low down. One cup of raw spinach provides 5% of your daily iron needs and 14% of your vitamin C. And while Popeye was fixated on the iron in his favourite food, the true antioxidant power of spinach is its Vitamin A; a whopping 56% of your daily requirement in that one cup. And get this; it actually has no Vitamin A in it. Say Whaaat? Nature is wacky on occasion (witness the axolotl… seriously, Google it!) Back on topic, spinach has a high “retinol equivalent activity”. According to www.spinachwords.comalthough spinach doesn’t have Vitamin A per se, it has lots of beta carotene which the body converts into Vitamin A (or retinol) and which is essential for “growth, bone formation and fighting viral and respiratory infections”. Really, it screams “feed me to your children ASAP!”
Spinach is also very on trend these days. Inflammation is a current buzzword in the nutrition field with our relatively modern understanding of how certain foods, even seemingly healthy foods can contribute to inflammation in the body which is believed to damage cells and contribute to all manner of disease from arthritis to cancer. According to the US National Libraries of Medicine, spinach contains glycoglycerolipids which are powerful agents with “anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects…and may be useful for the prevention of inflammatory diseases.”
So the question (as always and forever) is “how do I get my kids to eat spinach if they only eat candy and things that are beige”. True, spinach can be a tough sell. Many kids just seem born programmed to be suspicious of all things green. The good(ish) news is, the nutrients in spinach are most potent if served raw or minimally cooked (quickly steamed, boiled or sautéed). If you happen to have a salad lover, it can be thrown into the mix with other greens they know and like and their favourite dressing. But it can also be added to a smoothie disguised as a fruity treat or blended into sauces, soups and dips. And why not get Popeye on the case? According to Wikipedia, “Consumption of spinach increased 33 percent in the United States between 1931 and 1936 as Popeye gained popularity. Using Popeye as a role model for healthier eating may work; a 2010 study revealed that children increased their vegetable consumption after watching Popeye cartoons.” Who among us is above singing a little at the dinner table? And a one and a two! I’m strong to the finish, cause I eats my spinach…..you do what you have to do.