Spinach – Iron and Then Some!

A few weeks back I wrote a piece featuring the great kiwi as Fruit of the Month.  Now it is the turn of the humble spinach leaf to step into the spotlight.  Drum roll please, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Spinacia Oleracea.

Everyone knows that spinach is good for you.  Almost everyone knows that it contains iron, especially if they have ever watched a Popeye cartoon and realized that there was no way the sailor hero would ever take on Bluto without a can of spinach inside him!

But there is much more to this green leafed powerhouse than even Popeye knew.

In the New York Times bestseller SuperFoods by Steven G. Pratt M.D., and Kathy Matthews, they describe this as if “nutritionists were working with an 8-pack of crayons and today we’re looking at the 250 pack.  Based on what we know and are learning daily about micronutrients, we understand that it’s the synergy of the wide range of all the nutrients and phytonutrients in green leafies that make the superstars.”

Here are some interesting facts about spinach that you might not have known:

Coenzyme Q10 is a key player in our skin’s antioxidant defense mechanism against sunlight damage and works in synergy with vitamins C,E and glutathione.  Spinach is an important source of this critical antioxidant.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) affects many people.  In simple terms (always the best for me!), the macular pigment of the eye protects against AMD.  The lower the macular pigment level, the higher the risk of AMD.  Spinach is one of the best foods to elevate macular pigment.  Two powerful carotenoids in spinach, lutein and zeaxanthin are also linked to the prevention of cataracts, a common occurrence in older people.

Spinach is a rich dietary source of vitamin K.  Low levels of vitamin K have been linked with lower bone density and an increased risk of hip fracture in women and that a serving a day of spinach significantly reduces this risk!

Spinach is a heart healthy food.  Rich in both vitamin C and beta carotene, the green chlorophyll masks the usual tell tale orange colour associated with these vitamins.  These nutrients work together to prevent oxidized cholesterol from building up in blood vessel walls.

So, in a nutshell, or a spinach leaf, this green beauty can help prevent against skin damage from the sun, keep our eyes bright and shiny, help make our bones strong and help to keep our hearts healthy!

For those of you who read my juicy musings regularly, you’ll know that the benefit of juicing spinach is that you can access all these great nutrients in vast quantities by adding spinach to your regular juice recipes.  With this vegetable though, a mixture is important, so juice it, eat it raw in salads and steam it lightly to make sure that you are accessing ALL the possible benefits from this green powerhouse.

Needless to say, this weeks juice is a green one, and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Spinach Super Juice

4 carrots

2 apples

1 very large handful of spinach leaves

1 broccoli floret (including stalk and leaves)

1/4 lemon (not peeled)

1 thumbnail size piece ginger (not peeled)

Before you turn the juicer on, push the spinach leaves down into the chute.  Please, Please make sure the juicer is turned OFF!  When all the leaves are packed down, pop an apple on top and turn the juicer onto low speed.  This will maximise the amount of spinach juice you get from the leaves.  Then push all the other ingredients through as usual.

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