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The nutritional value of spinach

Spinach is nothing more than the leaves of the herbaceous plant officially known as Spinacia Oleracea. These leaves are distinguished by their rich flavour, meaty texture, and green colour (ranging from light green to dark green). Although it gives the impression of being a typically Mediterranean vegetable, spinach actually comes from Asia. In fact, they weren’t brought to Europe until approximately the year 1000. Regardless of where they came from, they are now a staple in Mediterranean cooking.

It is not surprising that spinach is a healthy, nutrient-dense, low-calorie, and adaptable vegetable. From a nutritional perspective, they are distinguished by having a genuinely substantial amount of potassium, to which specific amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are also present. In terms of vitamins, vitamins A and C are abundant.

Iron is present, but in small quantities, even though certain cartoon and film productions have deceived the public into thinking otherwise. Spinach grows all year round; however, its reproductive cycle is quite long and lasts from 6 to 9 months. The soil must be soft and airy and not contain stagnant water.

The characteristics of the many varieties

Spinach comes in a wide range of varieties, each distinguished by its own leaf shape, flavour, consistency, and colour. These are the most well-known ones.

  • Winter giant. This variety is characterised by very large, intense green leaves. The flavour is rather robust.
  • Blackbird. The leaves tend to be round with many bumps. The flavour is slightly bitter.
  • Viking. It is a summer cultivar that has leaves that are almost spherical and have a very light green colour. The flavour tends to be sweet.
  • Metalor. The leaves are very small and bright green. They are characterised by an aromatic flavour.

How to cook spinach

Spinach is among the most popular vegetables due to its aromatic and slightly bitter flavour, and it also has a tender and consistent texture at the same time. It is not surprising that they are the protagonists of many recipes, which see them boiled, sautéed, or added raw. In this regard, here is an interesting list of recipes on our site.

Cannelloni with spinach and pumpkin. This recipe is considered the best alternative to the classic cannelloni. This meal, which is made with chopped pumpkin and boiled with a little water, is incredibly delicious. In contrast, the spinach is diced and pan-fried. Lastly, they are added to the other components as a garnish.

Strudel with potatoes and spinach. It is among the best spinach recipes ever, and it includes an excellent combination with potatoes. Vegetables act as filling for this classic strudel made with puff pastry.

Spinach flan. Another recipe that turns out to be really tasty and has a great impact. The flans express a certain elegance, to the point that they can be used for appetisers and buffet aperitifs. The dough is made with spinach, whole eggs, cream cheese, chopped walnuts, and some spices.

Snails with spinach. This is a very unique recipe with typical regional ingredients that can be combined in unexpected ways. Snails with spinach are a dish of Brescian cuisine that requires rather elaborate preparation due to the presence of polenta.

Some quick spinach-based recipes

You can consume spinach as a side dish or in quick meals. In this instance, the recipes are really easy and take little time. Here are some intriguing suggestions to think about in this regard:

Spinach and green apple salad. It’s a simple side dish that doesn’t require cooking and is based on some really good combinations. The acidic flavour of apples pairs perfectly with the bitter delicacy of spinach. Finally, the gherkins and walnuts give an interesting crunchy note.

Spinach and mackerel salad. This is more than a side dish; it is a complete meal, as we find mackerel, which provides proteins and healthy fats. In this recipe, there are also dried cashews, which give a crunchy texture during the garnishing phase.

Sandwich with spinach and beetroot. Though it looks like a straightforward sandwich, the depth of flavours it unveils makes for an amazing culinary experience. We find not only spinach but also beetroot, cheese, and avocado. As a condiment, however, there is tahini sauce and a little extra virgin olive oil. This dish is more of a snack or quick meal.

Benefits and nutritional values

As we’ve seen, cooking spinach isn’t all that tough in terms of flavour and creativity. But it’s also important to discuss this intriguing vegetable’s function in our bodies. Let’s examine a few key advantages.

Spinach helps prevent cancer as it is rich in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and beta-carotene. Flavonoids support the circulatory system, while beta-carotene helps absorb vitamin A (essential for vision and skin).

Spinach also supports the immune system. The reference is to the abundance of vitamin C, which characterises the vast majority of foods of plant origin. Furthermore, they help digestion thanks to the high quantities of fibre.

What are the side effects?

The beneficial effect occurs only in cases of adequate consumption, but if you overdo it, you may suffer from meteorism and gastrointestinal disorders. This actually occurs in all vegetables and greens that are rich in fibre.

For the rest, there is only one contraindication linked to the consumption of spinach, i.e., it should be avoided if you suffer from stones. This type of vegetable, in fact, contains oxalic acid, which promotes the accumulation of mineral sediments.

Lastly, it should be noted that this vegetable contains a significant amount of nickel, which renders it incompatible for people who are allergic, sensitive, or intolerant to this element.