Spinach – the nutrient powerhouse
Spinach (paalak) is among the top five healthy vegetables to include in your diet. Ask Popeye! This complete powerhouse packs in major nutritional value and helps us stay healthy. Aloo-paalak, paalak-paneer and just paalak cooked, mashed and seasoned with mustard and fried black gram are big favorites in my house. (Thank God!). Best of all, it is not an expensive thing to add to your shopping list and is easily available throughout the year. . I remember when my mom and I used to be heading towards “broke” at the end of the month, decades ago, we’d stick to greens. What can I say? Am grateful for healthy choices!
It is very reassuring to have healthy food as favorites – but let’s go a little deeper to see exactly what spinach has in store for us.
- Spinach has Vitamin A and C, fiber, folic acid, magnesium and other nutrients that fight colon, lung and breast cancer.
- The folate content in spinach prevents artery damage, and therefore protects against heart disease. Folate also prevents DNA damage and colon cell mutation. In fact, for pregnant women, folate helps in developing the fetus’s nervous system and lungs. It prevents accidental hemorrhage and abortion.
- You can protect your digestive system with spinach. It has betacarotene and vitamin C that guard the colon from free radicals.
- Menstruating women, growing children and pregnant women whose requirement of iron is more, benefit from the iron content in spinach. This reduces the risk of anemia.
- Spinach has flavonoids that protect from age-related memory loss and diseases
- Spinach has lutein, which protects from cataract and macular damage, thereby preventing vision loss in the elderly.
- Spinach is very low in calories and high in phytonutrients which help with weight loss.
- For diabetics, spinach stablizes blood sugar
- It is a great source of iron, protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, Zinc and copper. It also has selenium, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Spinach also has anti-inflammatory properties that help with osteoporosis, arthritis, severe headaches and asthma. It promotes bone health.
- Spinach is potassium rich – and low in sodium, helping reduce blood pressure. Spinach protects your skin with its vitamin B, and keeps your skin glowing.
Spinach is a truly versatile vegetable as you can eat it raw through a salad. It is easy to cook and great as a soup or as an addition to other dishes. One cup of spinach a day will give you your daily intake of vitamin K.
So how can you get more spinach into your diet?
- Add chopped spinach to your soup
- Toss chopped spinach with garlic and baked potato
- Spinach dips are great as healthy accompaniments with breads and vegetables
- Spinach in your sandwich instead of lettuce
- Spinach in your omelet
- Aloo-paalak vegetable (potato and spinach)
- Spinach bread (available in most stores)
- Spinach with lentils (dal)
- Spinach in yogurt
- Add it to vada and dosa batter
- And so on.
Make sure you stick to organic spinach though. People with kidney/gall bladder problems must be careful about eating spinach, as it could interfere with the absorption of calcium. It can also interfere with thyroid gland function. Caution for people with gout, too. People on a renal diet are usually advised not to eat spinach.