Super Spinach Popeye Had It Right Apart From The Can 

By Ange Fonce

We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, and you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been helping to protect himself against inflammatory problems, oxidative stress-related problems, cardiovascular problems, bone problems, and cancers at the same time.

Used in almost every cuisine across the world, spinach is an enormously popular green vegetable. 

The leaves can be either flat or slightly ruffled, and are a bright green when young, deepening to a more intense colour when older. 

The bitter flavour is distinctive - you either love it or hate it - and particularly complements dairy products and eggs.

Bright, vibrant-looking spinach leaves are not only more appealing to the eye but more nourishing as well. 

Recent research has shown that spinach leaves that look fully alive and vital have greater concentrations of vitamin C than spinach leaves that are pale in colour. 

The milder, young leaves can be eaten raw in a salad, while the older ones are usually cooked (spinach has one of the shortest cooking times of all vegetables). 

It reduces very dramatically during cooking; a 450g bag will be just enough for two people.

Among the World's Healthiest vegetables, spinach comes out at the top for nutrient richness. 

Rich in vitamins and minerals, it is also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection. 

Enjoy baby spinach in your favourite salads or make a salad made exclusively of baby spinach. 

Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green colour provide more nutrients than any other food. 

Although spinach is available throughout the year, its season runs from March through May and from September through October when it is the freshest, has the best flavour, and is most readily available. 

Spinach belongs to the same family (Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae) as Swiss chard and beets and has the scientific name, Spinacia oleracea. 

It shares a similar taste profile with these two other vegetables, having the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavour of Swiss chard.

Popeye popularized spinach, fresh spinach retains the delicacy of texture and green colour that is lost when spinach is processed. 

Raw spinach has a mild, slightly sweet taste that can be refreshing in salads, while its flavour becomes more acidic and robust when it is cooked.

There are three different types of spinach generally available. 

Savoy has crisp, creased curly leaves that have a springy texture. 

Smooth-leaf has flat, unwrinkled, spade-shaped leaves, while semi-savoy is similar in texture to savoy and is not as crinkled in appearance. 

Baby spinach is great for use in salads owing to its taste and delicate texture.

How To Select And Store

Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. 

The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. 

Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.

Do not wash spinach before storing as the exposure to water encourages spoilage. 

Place spinach in a plastic storage bag and wrap the bag tightly around the spinach, squeezing out as much of the air as possible. 

Place in refrigerator where it will keep fresh for up to 5 days.

Avoid storing cooked spinach as it will not keep very well.

Tips For Preparing And Cooking

Spinach should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. 

Before washing, trim off the roots and separate the leaves. 

Place the spinach in a large bowl of tepid water and swish the leaves around with your hands as this will allow any dirt to become dislodged. 

Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water (usually two to three times will do the trick). 

Do not leave spinach soaking in the water as water-soluble nutrients will leach into the water.

Spinach sold in bags has been pre-washed and only needs to be rinsed. 

If you are going to use it in a salad, dry it using a salad spinner or by shaking it in a colander.

The Healthiest Way Of Cooking Spinach

Spinach is only one of three vegetables I recommend boiling to free up acids and allow them to leach into the boiling water... this brings out a sweeter taste from the spinach. 

Discard the boiling water after cooking... do not drink it or use it for stock because of its acid content.

Use a large pot (3 quart) with lots of water and bring to a rapid boil. 

Add spinach to the boiling water and boil for 1 minute. 

Begin timing as soon as you place the spinach in the pot if you are using 1 pound or less of spinach. 

If you are cooking larger quantities of spinach bring the water back to a boil before beginning timing the 1 minute. 

Do not cover the pot when cooking spinach. 

Leaving the pot uncovered helps to release more of the acids with the rising steam. 

Research has shown that the boiling of spinach in large amounts of water helps decrease the oxalic acid content by as much as 50%.

Remove spinach from pot, press out liquid with a fork, place in a bowl, toss with Mediterranean Dressing, and top with your favourite optional ingredients. 

Antioxidant Benefits Of Spinach

Most of the flavonoid and carotenoid nutrients found in spinach that provide anti-inflammatory benefits provide antioxidant benefits as well. 

Given the fact that spinach is an excellent source of other antioxidant nutrients - including vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), and manganese - as well as a very good source of the antioxidant zinc and a good source of the antioxidant selenium - it is no wonder that spinach helps lower risk of numerous health problems related to oxidative stress. 

Our blood vessels, for example, are especially susceptible to damage from oxidative stress, and intake of spinach has been associated with decreased risk of several blood vessel-related problems, including atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

Interestingly, the blood pressure benefits of spinach may be related not only to its antioxidants, and also to some of its special peptides. 

Peptides are small pieces of protein, and researchers have discovered several peptides in spinach that can help lower blood pressure by inhibiting an enzyme called angiotensin I-converting enzyme.

Two of the carotenoids that are especially plentiful in spinach - lutein and zeaxanthin - are primary antioxidants in several regions of the eye, including the retina and the macula. 

Although I have not seen specific studies on spinach intake and prevention of eye-related problems like macular degeneration, there have been studies showing that human blood levels of lutein can be increased by consumption of spinach in everyday amounts. 

I have also seen at least one group of researchers suggesting that spinach has a likely role to play in prevention of eye problems, including age-related macular degeneration.

Helping You Bone Up

The wealth of vitamin K provided by spinach is important for maintaining bone health. 

Vitamin K1 helps prevent excessive activation of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. 

Additionally, friendly bacteria in our intestines convert vitamin K1 into vitamin K2, which activates osteocalcin, the major non-collagen protein in bone. 

Osteocalcin anchors calcium molecules inside of the bone. 

All of these vitamin K-related mechanisms point to the importance of vitamin K-rich foods for bone health, and it is difficult to find vegetables that are richer in vitamin K than spinach. 

Spinach is also an excellent source of other bone-supportive nutrients including calcium and magnesium.

One of my favourite recipes using spinach...

Spinach, aubergine and chickpea curry

Less than 30 mins preparation time

10 to 30 mins cooking time

Serves 4

This delicious vegetarian curry is packed full of flavour and is ready in less than 30 minutes.


1kg/2¼lb fresh spinach
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium red onions, chopped
200g/7oz tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 fresh hot green chillies, halved and thinly sliced, seeds included
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 large aubergine, approx. 400g/14oz,cut into 2cm (3/4in) dice
400g/14oz tinned chopped tomatoes

Preparation method

Cook the spinach in boiling water for two minutes, then cool it under cold running water and squeeze gently to remove most of the liquid. 

Place in a food processor and chop the spinach to a coarse purée.

Heat half the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion, chickpeas, garlic, chilli and spices for five minutes over a medium heat.

Add the remaining olive oil and the aubergine. 

Cook for ten minutes, stirring often, until the aubergine is coloured.

Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, then cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the aubergine is soft. 

Stir in the spinach purée and serve.

So while spinach probably will not make you super strong the minute you eat it, as it did for Popeye, it will promote your health and vitality in many other ways. 

It seems like Popeye was pretty smart after all.

As ever... 

Always take care of your Mental Health and Physical Fitness. 

You do have the DYNAMIC power!

Ange Fonce


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