Everything you wanted to know about the “power” of spinach
One of the vegetables that we are encouraged to eat from a young age is spinach. Different varieties of the vegetable have been grown in our country since the Middle Ages and it can be found on most Italian tables all year round.
The spinach plant belongs to the large family of Chenopodiaceae, which includes vegetables that are widely used in kitchens around the world, such as beets, chard, and quinoa.
Spinach is a very important food for the diet due to its low calorie count and high nutritional value. It is mainly composed of water, carbohydrates, proteins and fibre and also contains numerous micro-nutrients, in particular mineral salts and vitamins. In fact, spinach contains significant amounts of vitamins, mainly vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E and in particular vitamin K - one hundred grams of fresh spinach contains four times the recommended daily intake of this vitamin.
As for the intake of minerals, spinach is famous for its high iron content, which however is not absorbed by the body due to the simultaneous presence of high levels of oxalic acid, a substance which inhibits iron absorption. It also contains magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, which are more easily absorbed.
Some recent scientific studies on this vegetables have highlighted a very important and little known benefit. In addition to beta-carotene, spinach leaves also contain two other colouring substances: lutein and zeaxanthin. These substances have the ability to penetrate the blood and settle in the eyes, providing a preventive action against certain age-related diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Therefore, it can be said, without contradiction, that spinach improves....our eyesight!
Other beneficial effects on our body are linked to this vegetable’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. Regularly eating spinach will help keep blood pressure low and reduce the risk of some cancers, such as prostate cancer.
The secret to fully reaping these benefits is to not cook the spinach for too long. Spinach can be eaten raw or cooked, but loses most of its nutrient value when boiled for too long. It is therefore better to “blanch” spinach quickly or steam it, so that it maintains its organoleptic properties.