Monday, 10 October 2011

Superfoods for a Healthier You - Spinach

When spinach comes to mind, those of us who are older than we'd like to admit will instantly be reminded of the pipe blowing, face-scrunching sailor, Popeye. According to our muscly friend, spinach has the ability to provide super-strength that will allow you to send people flying through the cartoon sky...

Although Popeye may have slightly overestimated the ability of spinach, he wasn't completely wrong about it being an excellent vegetable to regularly consume.

In fact, spinach is such a nutritionally beneficial food that researchers found that keeping ageing laboratory animals on spinach-rich diets significantly improved their motor skills and learning abilities.

The main benefits of this tasty, mild-flavoured vegetable include:

  • The flavonoid compounds in the leaves have been found to act as antioxidants, therefore protecting the body against stomach, skin, breast, prostate and many other types of cancer.

  • The high content of carotene means that spinach is a strong protector of eyesight, giving carrots a run for their money.

  • It is also particularly rich in vitamin K, which helps to boost bone strength and is thought to even prevent osteoporosis.

  • Spinach also contains peptides, which are aspects of protein that have been shown to lower blood pressure.

  • Its high vitamin E content is said to help protect the brain from cognitive decline as we age.

Due to its mild flavour, spinach is a perfect accompaniment to most foods when you are trying to improve the nutritional benefits of your meals. It is also fairly cheap and long lasting so that you can make the most out of it.

Superfood tip: The carotene in spinach is better absorbed when the leaves are cooked, rather than eaten raw, or perhaps try adding a little oil. The best way of retaining the antioxidants within the fruit is to steam or stir-fry.