Botanical Name :: Spinacia-olerecea
Indian Name :: Palak
The spinach is a leafy vegetable, with broad green leaves. It ranks high among all green vegetables. The leaves are cooling and very nutritive. This vegetable is a cool season annual crop which matures quickly. It has round, very smooth and delicate stem. The leaves are alternate, succulent, fleshy, very smooth and dark green in color. They are generally five to eight cm’s. in length and one to one and half cm’s. in width. The bottom of the leaf is shiny, with thick veins running across.
Origin and Distribution
The spinach is believed to have been first cultivated by the Arabs. The Persians cultivated it about 2,000 years ago. The Moors or the blacks took it to Spain from where it spread to other parts of the world. The word spinach actually comes from a Spanish word hispania. In India it grows in great abundance. This crop thrives best in cooler and moist climate. High humidity and cool temperature are conducive to the rapid growth of succulent, tender foliage.
Food Value of Spinach
The chemical constituents of spinach are essential amino acids, iron, vitamin A and folic acid. It is one of the cheapest vegetables which supplies the same amount of protein as one gets from the same quantity of meat, fish, eggs and chicken. Other vegetables such as tomatoes, onions and cucumbers may be added to the raw tender spinach. It will make an excellent dish with the addition of a little lemon juice and olive oil. The vitamin C content in lemon juice helps the body to absorb the entire amount of iron from the spinach consumed.
Minerals and Vitamins
|Moisture – 92.1%||Calcium – 73 mg|
|Protein – 2.0%||Phosphorus – 21 mg|
|Fat – 0.7%||Iron – 10.9 mg|
|Carbohydrates – 2.9%||Vitamin C – 28 mg|
|Fibre – 0.6%||Small amount of Vitamin B Complex|
|Minerals – 1.7%||* Values per 100 gm’s edible portion|
|Calorific Value – 17|
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties of Spinach
The leaves of spinach are demulcent or soothing agents, refrigerant or collants, diuretic and milk laxative
- Constipation:- Spinach juice cleans the digestive tract by removing the accumulated waste there from. It nourishes the intestines and tones up their movements. It is, therefore, an excellent food remedy for constipation.
- Anemia:- This vegetable is a valuable source of high grade iron. After its absorption in the system, the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells take place. It is thus highly beneficial building up the blood and in the prevention and treatment of anemia.
- Acidosis:- Spinach is also a rich source of calcium and other alkaline elements which are essential for keeping the tissues clean and for preserving the alkalinity of the blood.It, therefore, helps prevent chronic diseases which thrive on the formation of too much acid in the system.
- Night Blindness:- The spinach is particularly rich in vitamin A. It contains more vitamin A than most other green vegetables. This vitamin promotes growth and health, specially the health of the eyes. Lack of this vitamin may lead to night blindness. Spinach is thus an effective food remedy for the prevention and treatment or night blindness.
- Tooth Disorders:- The spinach juice is effective in strengthening the gums and preventing and curing dental cavities. Chewing raw spinach II leaves cures pyorrhoea. A mixture of carrot juice and Spinach juice, taken early in the morning, can cure bleeding and ulcerated gums.
- Pregnancy and Lactation:– As the richest source of folic acid, spinach is a very valuable food during pregnancy and lactation. Megaloblastic anemia of pregnancy occurs because the mother is deficient in folic acid. This deficiency of folic acid occurs as this substance is required for the developing foetus. Regular use of spinach during pregnancy will help prevent the deficiency of folic acid. It will also prevent threatened abortion and accidental haemorrhage, deficient absorption of food by small intestine associated with lassitude i.e. tiredness, shortness of breath, loss of weight and diarrhea. Spinach is also good source of nutrition for nursing or lactating mothers and improves the quality of their milk.
- Urinary Disorders: -Fresh spinach juice taken with tender coconut water once or twice a day acts as a very effective but safe diuretic due to the combined action of both nitrates and potassium. It can be safely given in cystitis, nephritis and scanty urination due to dehydration.
- Respiratory Disorders:- Infusion of fresh leaves of spinach prepared with two teaspoonful of fenugreek seeds mixed with a pinch of ammonium chloride and honey is an effective expectorant tonic during the treatment of bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma and dry cough due to congestion in the throat. It sooths the bronchioles, liquefies the tenacious sputum and forms healthy tissues in the lungs and increase resistance against respiratory infections. It should be taken in doses of 30 ml. three times daily.
Uses of Spinach
Spinach is often cooked as a green vegetable, It is also used as a soup. Small, young and tender leaves of spinach can be used as raw salads. They are as appetizing as tender lettuce leaves.- The leaves of spinach are so juicy that no additional water is needed for its cooking. The leaves should first be washed in several changes of water. The water which clings to the leaves is sufficient for cooking without adding more. The leaves should always be cooked on a moderate heat. It contributes roughage, color and a bland flavor to the diet and it helps to balance the fuel foods in the menu. It however, contains a small amount of oxalic ac.id which is ill soluble in the fluids of the alimentary tract and is harmful in gravels, gout and liver disease. Therefore, it should not be used by those suffering from these ailments.