Botanical name: Spinacia oleracea
Spinach is a biennial type vegetable and is part of the amaranthacee family.
Origins and history
The origins of spinach are Asian in particular in the western and central area of the continent, in fact this vegetable was already known and used by the Arabs. Spinach makes its appearance in Europe around 1000 AD. when it was brought to Spain following the conquest of this country by the Moors.
Later it was also introduced in Italy, when the Saracens managed to conquer the Sicily region. At the beginning, however, it was not considered an important food, so much so that it became so only around the nineteenth century when the great nutritional properties of this so good vegetable were understood. Obviously it was not only the Arabs who consumed it, but also all the other Asian peoples who used it both in the kitchen as a food, but also as a remedy against some diseases, as this vegetable according to their belief also had medical properties and therefore was able to cure any ailment or discomfort.
Nutritional and beneficial properties of Spinach
As is well known, spinach is rich in iron, 100 g of product in fact contain 2.9 mg of this important mineral which makes it the first among vegetables. Unfortunately, all that glitters is not gold, if it is true that the quantity of iron present is high it is also true that as much as 95% of the mineral is not usable for nutritional purposes due to the simultaneous presence of oxalic acid which prevents the absorption of iron by our body. This acid is also very harmful in case of rheumatism, kidney stones, osteoporosis or even if you have to heal from a fracture, as in addition to preventing the absorption of iron, it also greatly limits that of calcium.
Despite the presence of this acid, spinach is also a very good source of vitamin C, carotenoids, folic acid, chlorophyll and lutein. All these micronutrients present within it make it a strong antioxidant and make it an excellent food for eye health.
It is also very useful for counteracting atherosclerosis and to protect against diseases that can affect the coronary arteries. Finally, they are also very useful for maintaining excellent health of pregnant women.
Use of Spinach in the kitchen
Spinach is widely used in all diets and in a healthy and correct diet, as its high water content - this vegetable has even 90% water - makes it an easily digestible food and also helps intestinal transit a lot.
The remaining 10% of the vegetable is divided equally between the three most important macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fibers. Fats are almost completely absent. In addition to this, it is also recommended by doctors for the minerals and vitamins present in it. In the kitchen it is increasingly used to prepare delicious recipes that children also like, such as spinach, which are chicken breast and spinach cutlets. Another very good recipe is that of ravioli with ricotta filling and this splendid vegetable. The recipes are really many and you could go on forever, but spinach can also be eaten alone as a side dish or appetizer, preparing an excellent salad dressed only with a drizzle of oil, salt and lemon juice.
The most famous legend concerning spinach is that linked to the iron content. In fact, for years it was believed that it was a food so rich in this important mineral that it had more than a slice of meat. This legend originated in 1890 when there was a misprint on package labels. In fact, that year, instead of writing 2.9 g, 29 g was written, thus almost doubling the value of the iron contained in spinach. Because of this mistake during World War II, people consumed industrial quantities of the vegetable, believing it to be even better than meat.
Later, precisely in 1928, also originated the myth of Popeye that whenever he was in trouble, he ate a whole can of spinach to draw the strength necessary to save his girlfriend. Olivia perpetually in danger from her love rival Brutus. Not only for many years it was believed that they were able to increase muscle mass, which is absolutely denied by science.