Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia.
It is an annual plant (rarely biennial), which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions.
Spinach Nutrition Information
Like all green leafy vegetables, spinach is packed with health benefiting nutrients. Spinach is an excellent source of iron, calcium, chlorophyll, beta carotene (needed for the production of vitamin A), vitamin C, riboflavin, sodium and potassium. The sulphur content of spinach helps to clean the liver, and its vitamin A content can help prevent night blindness.
Spinach has a high content of calcium, vitamin K and magnesium making it an important food in supporting bone health. It is a rich source of antioxidants and is therefore can help lower the risk of health problems related to oxidative stress. It is important to note that the more vibrant the greens look, the higher concentration of vitamin C they contain.
Spinach is among the small number of foods that contain a significant amount of oxalates. Oxalates are naturally occurring substances found in plants as well as animals. When oxalates become too concentrated in bodily fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems such as kidney stones. The most common type of kidney stones are calcium oxalate stones. Individuals who are susceptible to kidney stones may therefore want to caution their spinach intake.
Research shows that oxalates may interfere with the absorption of calcium in the body. However, spinach will still provide you with a significant amount of calcium but should not be counted on to boost your calcium levels alone.
Avoid spinach that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay. A good quality spinach will have leaves that are vibrant and deep green in colour with no signs of wilting or yellowing. Place unwashed spinach in a plastic bag and place it in the crisper of the refrigerator where it will last up to 5 days. Spinach leaves can be blanched and then placed in the freezer until needed.
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