Time for Spinach

October is Spinach Lovers Month! 

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a leafy green vegetable that originated in Persia. It was introduced to China in the 7th century, likely brought to Europe in about the 12th century and then to the US in 1806. Due to its origin, spinach is known as “Persian Green” in China.

The three basic types of spinach are:

  • Savoy: Dark green, crinkly and curly leaves, it is the type that is most commonly sold in the United States.
  • Flat- or smooth-leaf Spinach: It has broad, smooth leaves that are easier to clean than Savoy.
  • Semi-Savoy: A hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves.

Known as one of the world’s healthiest vegetables, spinach is rich in vitamins A, C and K, magnesium, iron and manganese. Half a cup of spinach accounts for 1 of the 5 servings of the daily recommended fruits and vegetables. 

Here are some additional Fun Facts about this green vegetable:

  • The creator of the comic strip character, Popeye the Sailor Man, E.C. Segar was a vegetarian and as a way of promoting the benefits of vegetables, he boosted his character’s strength with a known iron-rich food. 
  • In the 1930s, there was a 33% boost in spinach consumption which was much needed during The Great Depression. Spinach farmers credit this to the fame of Popeye.
  • The name “spinach” is derived from the word ispanai meaning green hand. In Latin it became spanachia which eventually evolved into the present word.
  • Spinach grows on the sandy soil in moist and cool areas.
  • Leaves are edible part of spinach. They are oval in shape and alternately arranged on the stem. Biggest leaves are located on the base, and smallest on the top of the plant.
  • Thylakoids of the spinach cells are what give spinach its green color. In the medieval days, artists used to extract green pigment from spinach to use as ink or paint.
  • Spinach has thin, flexible stem that can reach one feet in height. It is an annual plant, which mean that it completes its life cycle in one year.
  • After the 8th day of being picked, spinach loses half of its major nutrients when it’s refrigerated.
  • Even though they look nothing alike, spinach is a relative of beets.
  • There’s only 23 calories in 100 grams of spinach. There is more potassium in spinach than there is in bananas. Potassium helps with digestion and muscular functions.
  • Unlike most vegetables, cooking spinach intensified the health benefits. Half a cup of cooked spinach gives you three times the nutrition as one cup of raw spinach.
  • Spinach is enriched with vitamin C which works as antioxidant properties. It gives a protection status again infection causing elements. It also reduces oxygen derived free radicals which causes many diseases.
  • Eating spinach may benefit eye health, reduce oxidative stress, help prevent cancer, and reduce blood pressure levels.
  • Spinach develops small yellow-green flowers. Each plant produces either male (stamens) or female (pistil) reproductive organs. Flowers are pollinated by wind. Spinach produces dry, lumpy fruit gathered in clusters that contain few seeds.

Experts say spinach is one of the world’s top 10 Superfoods. And the best part is, you can easily incorporate it into almost any meal you make. Add spinach to a smoothie, omelet, wrap, sandwich, pasta or stir fry. Or, make a spinach salad with some your favorite fruits and vegetables.

Sources: AgnetWest, Healthline, Whfoods, The #Fact Site, AmazingFacts4U