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Nutrition facts and recipes from one of nature's best superfoods.

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More Spinach Facts

  • Spinach is a native plant of Persia (modern day Iran). It was introduced to China in the 7th century. It was most probably brought to Europe in about the 12th century and to the US in 1806.
  • Reflecting it's origin, spinach is still widely known in China as "the Persian Green" even today.
  • Spinach is a member of the goose-foot family, making it a close relation to beets and chard.
  • In some countries, Silver Beet is commonly sold as spinach. They are closely related and the nutritional properties are almost identical.
  • Spinach has an undeserved reputation for being high in iron. In 1870, Dr. E von Wolf measured the iron content of spinach, but placed the decimal point in the wrong position. This overstated the iron content of spinach ten-fold. The mistake was not discovered until 67 years later, by German chemists. The myth of the high iron content of spinach is still being wrongfully yet widely circulated today.
  • Oxalate, found in spinach, may cause kidney stones in some predisposed individuals. Not all kidney stones are oxalate based. People who suffer from kidney stones should check with their medical practitioners as to whether oxalate is a factor in their condition and therefore whether they should eliminate spinach from their diet.
  • Spinach is best eaten fresh. It loses nutritional properties with each passing day. Although refrigeration slows the deterioration, half of the major nutrients are lost by the eighth day after harvest. (For long term storage, freeze while fresh.) When fresh, it has crisp leaves. As they deteriorate, the leaves turn limp.
  • Cooked or raw? Both have their advantages. Whereas cooking reduces Vitamin C and folate levels, it simultaneously boosts beta-carotein and lutein bioavailability. A sensible idea is to have it both ways. Have spinach raw in your lunch salads and cooked in your evening dinner, for example. Some varieties of spinach are rarely eaten raw, though baby spinach is common in salads. If cooked, it is best lightly steamed to preserve nutrients as much as possible.
  • When eaten raw, spinach should be very well washed and dried prior to use. (A sensible precaution with all fruits and vegetables, anyway.)
  • There are many varieties of spinach, though they mostly fall into three distinct groups:
    • Savoy (Dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. Commonly found in supermarkets.)
    • Flat/smooth leaf spinach (Most commonly used for canned and processed spinach products, though "baby spinach" also fits in this group. Easier to wash and clean than Savoy.)
    • Semi-savoy (Hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean.)
  • "Florentine" is a common part of names of recipes where spinach is a significant ingredient. Florence in Italy was the home town of Catherine de Medici, a lover of spinach, who married the King of France in the 16th century.
  • In the 1930's U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption - a welcome boost to an industry during the depression era.
  • The spinach growing town of Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue of Popeye in 1937.
  • 'Birds Eye' was the first company to advertise frozen spinach. It did so in "Life" magazine in 1949.
  • California is today the US's #1 grower/supplier of spinach, accounting for almost three quareters (3/4) of national production. Other spinach-growing states include Arizona, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Maryland and Arkansas.
  • Alma, Arkansas (population approx, 4,700), holds an annual spinach festival each April, organised by the Alma Chamber of Commerce. Alma proclaims itself to be the "spinach capital of the world", a title also claimed by Crystal City, Texas. Alma is the home of "Allen Canning Company" which cans and ships spinach.
  • In 2005, the national yield of commercial spinach was approximately 350,000 tons and is growing annually.
  • In March 2005, Bon Appetit magazine's annual survey showed that 56% of respondants said that spinach was their favourite vegetable.
  • The U.S. is only the world's second largest producer of spinach, producing a mere 3% of global production. China is the world's largest spinach producer with 85% of global production.
  • Spinach grows best in cool (not freezing) moist conditions, such as spring and autumn, and grows well in sandy soils.
  • Spinach leaves are a mild diuretic and mild laxative.
  • Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint.

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