Yesterday, March 26, was Spinach Day! While you may not be interested in eating spinach straight out of a can like Popeye, the health benefits of spinach are worth giving it a try in a few different recipes.
You may remember Popeye eating a full can of spinach to gain super strength. Although you won’t gain huge, powerful muscles from one serving of spinach, studies have shown that spinach, among other vegetables and fruits, may enhance the body’s response to physical activity. Certain compounds in spinach, as well as other greens and fruits, seem to help the body process energy more efficiently, providing enhanced physical performance.
While research still needs to be done to fully understand the way spinach can help improve performance, spinach is packed with other health benefits as well. To start, spinach is a great source of folic acid, a B vitamin which is needed for generating healthy new cells. Folic acid, also called folate, is especially important in women who are pregnant or expecting to become pregnant as it is essential to a baby’s brain and spine development in the womb.
What else does this leafy green offer? Spinach is a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Add spinach to your dish for added vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin K, iron, folate, fiber, potassium, manganese, and magnesium.
Spinach is a versatile ingredient and can be incorporated into any meal. It is available raw, frozen, or canned. Raw spinach is great for salads, smoothies, or adding to sandwiches. If you are unable to get raw spinach, frozen spinach is another option.
Here are a few ways you can use spinach in any meal:
Breakfast: Add spinach to your fruit and yogurt smoothie for an extra boost of antioxidants. Spinach has a mild flavor that won’t overpower your drink. This smoothie will be packed with carbohydrates, fiber, and dairy to fuel your body in the morning.
Lunch: Add raw spinach to your salad or sandwich. It can be used in addition to or in place of other leafy greens. For a tasty salad with maximum nutrient absorption, try adding strawberries or a citrus fruit such as orange wedges to your salad and dress with a light oil based dressing. Adding raw spinach to a sandwich with a lean protein like grilled chicken will increase absorption of folate from the spinach.
Dinner: Spinach can complement any of your favorite dishes at dinner time. It can be lightly sautéed in garlic and olive oil for a side dish or added to your favorite marinara sauce to top a dish of grilled chicken with pasta.
Your turn to take action: Start by adding spinach to one meal per day. Soon you will be as hooked as Popeye! What is your favorite way to eat spinach?