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No matter how you serve it, spinach is packed with nutrition as well as taste. The benefits to adding this vegetable to your diet are numerous and regular consumption of this food will certainly contribute to a healthy life style.

Where is Spinach Grown?

Spinach is a native plant of Asia and grows to be approximately 12 inches tall.  It is most commonly an annual, which means it must be replanted each year, however in climate that don’t get prolonged cold winters, spinach can grow year around.  It was first domesticated in Nepal.

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China leads production in spinach accounting for 85% of the world’s output.  The United States is the next largest producer accounting for 3% of the output.  Spinach is a vegetable that grows best in cool weather and is able to withstand a hard frost.  In the United States California, Arizona, and New Jersey are the top producers of spinach.  The United States averages over 867 million pounds grown each year.  

How to grow Spinach

Spinach should be grown in light fertile soil that easily retains moisture.  It should be planted where it get a great deal of sun when the weather is cool but gets some shade when the temperatures get warmer.  Manure is suggested as the best fertilizer to use and should be tilled into the ground prior to planting.  Seeds are planted directly into the ground between 4-8 weeks prior to the last frost; the seeds germinate well in lower temperatures.  You can plant spinach seeds every two weeks to keep a continuous supply; seeds can be planted and will do well until the temperatures reach a constant 75 degrees F or higher.  Harvest begins in August and a bit later in warmer climates.  

Nutrients Found in Spinach

Spinach is known for its rich content of iron; iron is essential to help oxygenate our red blood cells which then carry the oxygen rich blood throughout our bodies.  Spinach is also high in Vitamin C, which is a vital part of our diet to help boost the immune system and fight off cancer causing agents.  It is also an excellent source of dietary fiber to help keep our digestive systems regular and functioning properly.  Spinach also contains Vitamin B6 which is said to help lower the risk of heart disease.  It is also rich in calcium, essential for strong bones, and Vitamin K which helps to clot blood and is essential in the healing process.  Spinach is low in cholesterol and saturated fat which also leads to a healthy cardiovascular system.  

Healthy Ways to Prepare Spinach

Spinach has become very commonly used in salads and eaten raw, it provides the full impact of the vitamins and mineral it has.  It can be served steamed or in stir fry dishes as well and can be boiled until tender.  Adding spinach to a sandwich instead of lettuce is also a healthy way to enjoy this vegetable.  

Health Benefits of Spinach

Adding spinach to your diet can help you from becoming anemic, which is the lack of iron in the blood.  Iron is essential to carry oxygen throughout the body to produce energy for the muscles.  Maintaining a healthy digestive system can be achieved by adding spinach to your diet as it is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which supplies the digestive system with the necessary bulk to keep the body regular.  According to an article by the U.S. Library of Medicine, calcium, working together with potassium is known to lower blood pressure.  Spinach is rich in both calcium and potassium and adding this food to your diet can help lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. Spinach is loaded with Vitamin A which is essential for healthy eyes and protecting the eyes from disease and possibly preventing cataracts.  Because it is a good source of Vitamin C, adding spinach to your diet can help boost your immune system and fight off harmful free radicals that destroy proper cellular growth and may lead to certain types of cancer.  Spinach is rich in Vitamin K which helps to promote healing as it is essential to help the blood to clot.  It is also a beneficial food to eat if you are pregnant as it is high in folate which is known to help guard against birth defects. And at the end: Popeye was right: spinach really does boost your muscles.

No matter how you serve it, spinach is packed with nutrition as well as taste.  The benefits to adding this vegetable to your diet are numerous and regular consumption of this food will certainly contribute to a healthy life style.

  • Kris-Etherton PM, Grieger JA, Hilpert KF, West SG. Milk products, dietary patterns and blood pressure management.Department of Nutritional Sciences, 110 Chandlee Laboratory, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
  • Photo courtesy of David Wagner by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/praxinoscope/2264101087