Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that can significantly reduce oxidative stress. Known as palak in India, it can also fight cancer growth, regulate blood pressure levels and maintain eye health too.
Scientifically known as Spinacia Oletacea, it is one such vegetable that fosters good health as it’s loaded with antioxidants and minerals. What originated in Persia is now readily grown in almost every part of the world, prominently in the United States and China.
There are three varieties of the vegetable namely semi-savoy, crinkly savoy, and smooth-leaf spinach.
Benefits of Adding Palak to Your Diet
Interestingly, in every 100 grams of the vegetable, one can find 91.4% water, 2.9% protein, 3.6% carbs and only 23 calories.
Moreover, fresh spinach is a rich source of magnesium, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, beta-carotene, folic acid or Vitamin B6, and calcium. In addition to that, it contains several other vitamins and minerals like potassium, Vitamin B9, and Vitamin E.
It is also a good source of significant plant compounds such as quercetin, kaempferol, nitrates lutein, and zeaxanthin.
The antioxidants present in the leaves of this vegetable helps to fight free radicals in one’s body. Eventually, this prevents chronic disease and premature aging. Being an insoluble fiber, it also aids digestion.
Raw vs. Cooked Spinach – What’s better?
If cooked the right way, one can obtain several benefits from this green, leafy vegetable. Raw spinach contains oxalic acid which can interfere with the absorption of specific nutrients like iron and calcium.
In addition to this, oxalic acid also attaches itself to other vital nutrients. Therefore, the long-term consumption of food rich in this organic compound can lead to a large scale deficiency of nutrients.
However, when one heats this vegetable, oxalic acid is broken down. Hence there isn’t any loss of nutrients in sautéed or steamed spinach. Although, this doesn’t mean the vegetable in its raw form is entirely harmful so let’s consider the advantages of both.
Raw Spinach Benefits
Raw spinach has many essential nutrients that are present in higher portions when compared to the cooked version. On consuming it raw, one can get more folate, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin C, and potassium. If you’re aiming to specifically obtain these nutrients, then you can consume this vegetable in its raw form to some extent. However, one must consume it in moderate amounts.
Cooked Spinach Benefits
The cooked version of these vegetables is definitely better as oxalic acid evaporates on heating. Moreover, one can absorb higher levels of protein, zinc, thiamin, iron, Vitamins A and E, calcium, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin on eating cooked spinach.
Healthy Spinach Recipes
Including this dark green leafy vegetable in your diet can provide you with several health benefits. While spinach may not be a favourite amongst the general public, preparing it the right way can make it a lot more enjoyable. We have put together a few lip-smacking recipes that will make your mouth water.
1. Spinach and Chickpea Stew
In addition to being delicious, this dish is also packed with several nutrients. Both spinach and chickpeas are good sources of calcium and iron whereas tomatoes contain powerful antioxidants, potassium, folate and Vitamin K.
- One can prepare this lip-smacking stew by frying chopped onion and garlic in a flavoursome mix of pepper, hot chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, and cloves.
- Once the mix is stirred properly, just add tangy tomato paste until the sauce thickens.
- When the ideal texture is obtained, add cooked chickpeas and fresh spinach. Fry this mixture gently in a little oil and a fantastic stew is now ready.
- You can even sprinkle toasted almonds or parsley and serve this spinach and chickpea stew with brown rice.
2. Baked Spinach Chicken Breast
Almost all green leafy vegetables taste good with chicken, but cooked spinach is by far the best of the lot. This tasty dish is amazingly easy and quick to prepare. All one needs are basic spices (salt, red chili or paprika), chopped garlic, creamy cheese (preferably mozzarella or provolone), olive oil, boneless skinless chicken breast and fresh spinach.
- Just preheat the oven to 425 degrees, sauté the green leafy vegetable in olive oil and garlic.
- Then place the cheese and freshly cooked vegetable lengthwise on the chicken breast.
- Do remember to fold the chicken in half before finally baking it.
- The final dish is truly mouthwatering and full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
3. Spinach Patties
Aloo Tikki or meat-based patties used in burgers are a definite welcome to one’s taste buds, but spinach burgers are a must try too! For those with a busy work schedule, these burgers are an even better option, since the preparation of this dish does not take too long.
- Mix egg whites (optional), diced onion, cheese, whole egg (optional), breadcrumbs, chili flakes, garlic powder, salt and fresh spinach in a bowl.
- After mixing them thoroughly, make patties.
- Fry them as required and eat them raw or with a sandwich.
Rich in iron, Vitamin A, and potassium, these patties can readily fulfill your daily requirements of several nutrients.
4. Spinach Salad
The best way to include spinach in one’s diet is through a salad. Eating it in its raw form can help you consume most of the nutrients that the vegetable contains. In addition to its health benefits, this salad is also easy to prepare.
- You’ll require thinly sliced apples, onions, olive oil, garlic and freshly ground black pepper.
- In a bowl, mix all these ingredients and just season with a dressing of your choice.
- The best aspect is that you can alter this recipe to your liking, add more veggies or even fruits if you wish.
For those aiming for weight loss or those suffering from iron deficiency or high blood pressure, this is an ideal way to boost the intake of the vegetable.
5. Palak Paratha
Paratha is an extremely popular form of bread in India. One of the tastiest parathas includes the Palak Paratha which is a favourite for supper and breakfast in the country, and also very easy to prepare.
- All one requires is to add chopped fresh spinach in the dough mix along with one’s preferred spices such as red chili, salt or pepper.
- Once added, knead the dough well and prepare small balls out of it.
- Roll out these balls and bake them, ideally using an Indian stove.
- Once cooked, serve with green chutney or achaar or curd.
6. Cheesy Spinach Hot Pockets
Though time-consuming, this dish is the most satisfying item you can prepare using spinach.
- Make the dough using dry yeast, all-purpose flour, salt, milk, egg, virgin oil, and sugar.
- For the filling use block cream cheese, chopped fresh spinach, garlic cloves, shredded mozzarella, and salt.
- Once both these are ready, prepare pockets out of the dough and generously add the filling.
- Bake in a preheated oven of 400° and get ready to experience goodness through its scrumptious taste!
7. Spinach and Corn Fritters
If you’re someone who loves fritters, then this delicious recipe is a must-try.
- Just add fresh spinach, corn, red chili, cumin, turmeric, salt, gram flour and chaat masala in the fritter mix.
- Ensure that the batter is thick enough to hold a ball-like shape.
- Once mixed as required, carefully fry them in oil until golden brown.
- To maximize the taste, do serve with ketchup or green chutney.
This antioxidant-rich green vegetable is an excellent source of numerous vitamins along with being effective to cure and prevent many diseases. Try these delicious recipes to truly experience the benefits of this nutrient-rich vegetable, and let us know what you think of them in the comments.