In Season in May: Spinach

What is it?

Spinach is available all year round, but traditional is a spring vegetable. When buying, look out for bright green leaves with a fresh smell, and no yellow or wilting leaves. Don’t hold back with the quantity when it comes to cooking spinach. Spinach has high water content, and so it reduces to around a quarter of its size when cooked.

The most common myth about spinach is that it is full of iron. Annoyingly the iron content in spinach is only 2.7mg per 100g, and to get your rough daily allowance of iron, you’ll need about 600g of spinach! That’s about 20 large handfuls of spinach, so unless you’re Popeye and can eat spinach every hour or so, you may not want to use it as your main source of iron, particularly if you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

spinach

Health benefits.

One large handful of raw spinach (roughly 30g)

  • 30mg of calcium
  • 24mg of magnesium
  • 41mg of omega 3 fatty acid
  • 2800UI (international units) of vitamin A or 70mcg

Calcium and magnesium are necessery for bone and muscle health. Small amounts of calcium are constantly removed from our bones by our bodies and replaced with new calcium (think of calcium as the cement that holds bricks together). We need to get enough calcium in our diets to replace what has been lost, or we risk our bones becoming weaker and more prone to breaking.

Omega 3 is great for improving circulation and memory. On top of that, omega-3 lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, and increases the production of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as good cholesterol.

How to prepare it.

Spinach can be eaten raw, for example in a salad or a smoothie, or can be cooked. Start by heating a little oil in pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the spinach and using a tongs, gently toss the spinach so that all of the unwilted leaves make contact with the bottom of the pan. As the spinach cooks, add any remaining spinach and continue to toss. When all the spinach is completely wilted and has turned bright green, it is ready.

Recipes.

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