You might’ve seen the old Popeye cartoons. You might not have (and I’d like to know how!). But if you somehow haven’t, Popeye usually needed to save Olive Oyl from the ultra thirsty Bluto. And whenever he needed a boost, Spinach was his immediate go-to super food. Just like that his biceps would bulge and Bluto would be running for cover. This also made Spinach the third most favorite children’s food after Turkey and Ice Cream upon Popeye’s debut in 1929. In fact, I dare say it was because of Popeye that my mom was able to successfully get me to eat my spinach as a kid!
But as I’d come to find out years later, Spinach – the green, leafy vegetable with Persian roots – is one hell of a super food! Here are some benefits of Spinach:
- Very low in calories – the caloric count in Spinach comes in at around the 25 calories per serving mark.
- High in insoluble fiber and low in carbs – While Spinach is low in carbs, those carbs are what contain the fiber. And insoluble fiber helps in preventing constipation.
- Rich in Vitamins and Minerals such as Vitamin A, K, Potassium and Magnesium.
You can also use Spinach in a few different ways. You can sauté it, roast it, as I do, or you can even blend raw spinach with your smoothies, as I also do. I explained this to some students five years ago, as they understandably were instantly grossed out. Raw spinach, unlike the cooked version has zero flavor. Blend it in a smoothie with all the other fruits you’d like to add, and you won’t taste a thing. Trust me here, I do this every day.
Is There Really A Difference Between Raw And Cooked Spinach?
I’m not sure that this is a highly debated question; but I know it’s been brought up a few times. So let’s clear the air here. Raw Spinach does contain Oxalic Acid. Oxalic Acid, when digested, binds with calcium, therefore blocking the absorption of other minerals. However, Oxalic Acid also has a melting point of 372 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, once under high heat via cooking in whichever way you prefer, key nutrients such as Iron, may be more absorbable by the body. But does this mean that Raw Spinach is more nutritious than cooked? Not necessarily. Spinach either way still is packed with the aforementioned vitamins and minerals. However, like most vegetables, the bioavailability of key vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamins A and K, simply increase.
So What’s the Final Verdict Coach??
I say both kinds of Spinach are equally valuable in their own way. Eat it raw. Cook it. Doesn’t matter. Just remember that if you want to be big and strong like that sailor with the obscenely huge arms that you know you obsessed over as a kid, just eat your spinach.