SPINACH. WHAT LIES BENEATH…. Tasks For each of the sources ask yourself three questions… What is the source telling you about spinach? Is the source reliable, legitimate and relevant? Based on the information in the source…Is spinach good for you?. WHICH 3 SOURCES ARE MOST RELIABLE? WHY?.
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WHAT LIES BENEATH…
Botanical: Spinacia oleracea (LINN.) Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
---Part Used---Leaves. ---Habitat---The Spinach is an annual plant, long cultivated for the sake of its succulent leaves, a native of Asia, probably of Persian origin, being introduced into Europe about the fifteenth century.
---Constituents---Spinach is relatively rich in nitrogenous substances, in hydrocarbons, and in iron sesqui-oxide, which last amounts to 3.3 per cent of the total ash. It is thus more nourishing than other green vegetables. It is a valuable part of the diet in anaemia, not only on account of its iron, but also for its chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is known to have a chemical formula remarkably similar to that of haemoglobin, and it is stated that the ingestion of chlorophyll will raise the haemoglobin of the blood without increasing the formed elements. The plant contains from 10 to 20 parts per 1,000 by weight of chlorophyll. During the war, wine fortified with Spinach juice 1 in 50) was given to French soldiers weakened by haemorrhage.
Anyone who grew up watching Popeye eating mounds of spinach knows that iron is one of the essential nutrients. Most people also think that spinach is a pretty good source of this nutrient as a result of this popular cartoon. The truth is that early in this century, when scientists were testing for the iron content of spinach, long before automated printers, they wrote down the wrong results. Someone put the decimal point in the wrong place and for a long time people believed that spinach contained 10 times more iron than it really did. Spinach does contain some iron, but it isn’t the best source. Red meat is the best source, so maybe Wimpy, with his love of hamburgers, should have been the one fighting Bluto for the love of Olive Oyle! Iron is also found in oily fish, the dark meat of chicken and turkey and in some nuts, seeds, dried fruits, dark green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.
Due to Popeye’s antics, most people also believe that iron can actually make you stronger. That’s not strictly true, but it is half right. Iron deficiency or anaemia makes you feel weak and lethargic but increasing your iron intake only makes you stronger if you have had a deficiency in the first place. It gets you back to normal, so to speak. Iron is needed for haemoglobin (the red pigment in blood) to work properly and carry oxygen to all the body's cells. One of the first signs of low iron intake is tiredness and fatigue.
Women and young girls who eat little meat, poultry and fish or who are completely vegetarian are particularly at risk of running down the body's iron reserves, and experiencing symptoms of deficiency. Low iron levels can have a serious effect on many aspects of normal daily functions, including an ability to concentrate.
Other groups are also particularly at risk. These include pregnant women and older people, who may need to take extra care. During pregnancy, if iron stores are already low, the increased demands made by the rapidly growing baby in the last six months of pregnancy may tip the balance and throw the expectant mother into a deficient state, adversely affecting the growth of the infant's brain. Older people can suffer through poor diets combined with an ageing digestive tract that finds it harder to absorb the iron that is present in foods.
Spinach – What lies beneath?How many of you remember as a child, sitting at the dinner table staring miserably at a glob of mushy, overcooked spinach on your dinner plate? The pile looked vaguely like something your Dad cleaned out of his lawnmower. There you sat. Tight lips and a frown. Green pile of mush now cold because it had been 45 minutes since you finished the rest of your dinner. And how many remember your Mom saying these exact words "You’re not getting up from that table until you finish your spinach." That was always a pretty weak threat, and Mom knew it. But Mom was smart. She would then say "Popeye eats it, and it’s got lots of iron to make you strong like him". That usually got you. Begrudgingly, you ate the spinach. After choking back the last forkful, you eagerly awaited the rippling biceps, fists shaped like anvils, and locomotive strength that cartoons and Mom assured you would occur. And wait you did. And wait some more. And you’re still waiting.I’ve got some bad news for you. Our mothers have misinformed us good readers. On one hand, they tricked us to eat our spinach because it really is good for us. But they unwittingly contributed to propagating one of the biggest myths in all of the produce world.
What Popeye and Mom didn’t know is that spinach does not supply us with an excellent source of iron. It in fact robs our body of iron. Nutritionally, spinach is an excellent source of both Vitamin A and folacin, and a source of fibre, potassium and Vitamin C. However, the long held belief that it is an excellent source of iron is a myth.
Technically speaking spinach does contain a lot of iron, but it’s not much use to humans. The iron is bound up with oxalic acid and it can’t be used by the body. Spinach is in fact an iron-blocker. It contains phytate, a chemical that prevents iron from entering the bloodstream. So if your iron count needs a boost, try eating liver, which is high in available iron. Or garnish your spinach salad with slices of orange, as citrus fruits contain vitamins and acids that counteract the effects of phytate and promote iron absorption.
SPINACH SPRING BY PAULETTE MILLIS
We know spring is here when voluntary spinach is popping up in our garden patch! Popeye swallowed spinach by the can-full, gave himself amazing strength, and performed Herculean feats, humorously leading us all to believe in the necessity of eating copious amounts of spinach. Thus it was, for years, forced down the throats of countless unwilling children.
Spinach, Spinacia oleracea, originating in Persia and Iran, was cultivated for many centuries before the creation of Popeye. European immigrants brought it to the US and by 1806 commercial cultivation began.
Consumption of fresh spinach fell between 1957 and 1973 by 1 to 1-1/2 pounds per capita. Growers do their best to market the greens by washing and bagging them as many cooks complain about the time needed to wash the sand out of the fresh green leaves. Dr. Thurman B. Rice of the Indiana State Board of Health says, "If God had intended for us to eat spinach, he would have flavoured it with something." Check the recipe section for some mouth-watering spinach dishes!
As the chart shows, spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and iron. Dr. Jensen states it leaves an alkaline ash in the body (healthy) and is good for the lymphatic, urinary, and digestive systems. Spinach also has significant amounts of potassium and calcium but it also contains oxalic acid, which combines with calcium and renders it unusable in the body. This is not important in the ordinary diet, and only becomes so if someone ingested a large amount of spinach juice. This may cause disturbing results in the joints.
Spinach is very low in calories, having about 23 calories per 3-1/2 ounces of cooked and drained spinach, and as it is also a mild laxative, this is excellent diet food!
Spinach contains the following phytochemicals (plant chemicals): indoles, carotenoids, and isothiocyanates which neutralize free radicals, stimulate anticancer enzymes, are useful in asthma, and help deactivate harmful estrogens.
Nutrients per pound:
ascorbic acid (Vit. C)
THE ANCIENT WORLD OF SPINACH
The genus Chenopodium includes a variety of weedy herbs native to much of Europe, Asia, India, China and both North and South America. This genus belongs to the Chenopodiaceae or goosefoot family includes spinach (Spinacia oleracea). The name chenopodium means goosefoot in Greek, and refers to the resemblance many leaves of Chenopodium have to the webbed feet of geese.
Chenopods have long been recognized as a valuable resource for exploitation as food. Cultivation requires a minimum of energy and labour investment. Furthermore, the leaves and fruit (i.e. seeds) of these plants are extremely nutritious.
Although widely cultivated as a pot-herb in Europe, it was the modern and native cultures of North and South America that exploited Chenopodium to its greatest extent. in the Andes of Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia the seeds are regarded as a staple food crop by many people. These seeds are ground for bread making, added to soups and gruel, and fermented with millet seed into alcoholic beverages such as chicha. They are also highly prized by local Indians as a pot-herb, both cooked and raw. Employed as a medicine, seeds are eaten as an internal medication (anthelmintic) and applied to sores and bruises. From the stems of this species an alkaline substance is derived which is chewed with the leaves of coca as a stimulant.
TOO MUCH OXALIC ACID
Plants are our most desirable food sources. We tend to think of vegetables and fruit as entirely friendly and benign; however this is not necessarily true. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices are chemically complicated, and they contain a variety of chemical substances that are drug-like, toxic, and allergenic. Plants are inherently toxic since they have evolved chemical defences that discourage predators from eating them.
There are many molecular substances in foods that offer no nutritional benefit, and must be processed and excreted. Oxalic acid, for example, is excreted in the urine, and its crystals are commonly found in microscopic urinalysis. Too much oxalic acid in the urine will result in kidney or bladder stones. Calcium combines with oxalic acid to form the less soluble salt, calcium oxalate, which is also found in kidney stones. Plant leaves, especially spinach, contain oxalic acid. Vitamin C is metabolised to oxalic acid; it contributes to over-saturation of the urine with crystals and possibly to stone formation.
SPINACH – A TRUE FRIEND
Vitamins & Minerals - Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate and vitamin C. Spinach is a very good source for magnesium and vitamin B2 (riboflavin). You will find that there are good quantities of potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) iron, copper, vitamin E, molybdenum, tryptophan, calcium and vitamin B1 (thiamin) in spinach. Researches have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach which function as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents. The vitamin K provided by spinach is important for maintaining bone health.
Benefits of Spinach - We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he was also protecting himself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time. For atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, few foods compare to spinach in their number of helpful nutrients. Spinach can help prevent colon cancer and with conditions in which inflammation plays a role. For example, asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis are all conditions that involve inflammation. Spinach is a good source of iron for menstruating women.
NITRATE IN BABY FOOD
Samples of three national brands of commercial baby food were
analysed for nitrate content using ion chromatography. Foods with
nitrate levels higher than 45 ppm (the maximum contaminant level
set by the EPA for drinking water) included garden vegetables and spinach. Consuming a 113 gram jar of spinach is comparable to drinking 720 ml high-nitrate water.
The potential risk of methemoglobinemia from consumption of these
foods adds strength to the recommendation to delay the addition
of solids to infants' diets until 5 to 6 months of age. Most
infants actually receive foods other than breast milk or formula
by 2 months of age.
Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, May 1994,
as reviewed in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association,
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH – PESTICIDES IN FOOD
The Government's latest pesticide results issued today reveal that
pesticide levels in Spanish spinach bought at Asda exceeded the
safety level for toddlers. Levels of pesticides in spinach bought
in Waitrose and Safeway stores also exceeded legal limits, but not
The Pesticide Residue Committee (PRC) concluded that levels of the
pesticide methomyl found in Asda spinach meant that the "safety
margins would be significantly eroded”. Levels were 150% of the
safety level for adults and 240% of the safety level for toddlers.
The PRC said that it was possible that "symptoms such as increased
salivation, an upset stomach or a mild headache could occur, but
these effects would be expected to be short-lived (lasting not
longer than 6 hours )". Methomyl is a carbamate pesticide which
affects the nervous system. It is also suspected of interfering
with the hormone system. Friends of the Earth today warned that
this is a highly risky substance which should not be in our food.
" Although there is some good news in the latest pesticide
results, we must remain very concerned that supposedly-healthy
food contains pesticides which exceed the safety levels
Key findings include:
One sample of spinach (from Asda) contained residues high enough
that the official safety limit would be exceeded.
SPECIAL NOTE - Iron and calcium in plant foods are not highly absorbed by the body. Spinach contains a chemical called oxalic acid, which binds with iron and calcium and reduces the absorption of these minerals. To improve iron absorption, spinach should be eaten with vitamin C-rich foods such as orange juice, tomatoes, or citrus fruit.CDC.gov - 5 a Day
THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION
The Mythic Practice and Power of Spinach in Ancient Persian Ritual
During the rituals offered to the God, Zarostra, the following uses of Spinach were made by priests:
· Wild spinach was caught and treated, then disembowelled, with its insides used for the purposes of augury – foretelling important events
· Incensed spinach was used as part of the ritual itself to create an atmosphere – the thick, fetid smoke belching from the ornate golden vases was considered to be a means by which worshippers might be able to see the God during the ceremony
· The Emperor Darius often fasted for weeks on end, following a strict diet of a few spinach leaves every evening, a s a means of self-purification before military campaigns