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Eating Well with Whole Foods: Spinach

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Spinach was so adored by Catherine De Medici, a prominent figure in the 16th century, that when she left Florence, Italy to marry the King of France, she brought along her own cooks to prepare the vegetable in the ways that she particularly liked. To this day, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as "a la Florentine." Spinach is believed to have originated in ancient Persia. It was only brought to Europe in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. Initially, it was referred to as "the Spanish vegetable" in England. Today, the United States and Netherlands are among the top commercial producers of spinach.

With its delicate texture and jade green color, spinach is chock full of vitamins and nutrients. It provides a myriad of health benefits including protection against cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis. Spinach has more than a dozen different flavonoids that function as antioxidants and anti-cancer agents. An excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, spinach may help reduce the number of free radicals in the body and prevent cholesterol from becoming oxidized. Heart healthy spinach is also a rich source of bone-building nutrients vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium. Studies show that people who eat spinach and other foods high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and folate have a reduced risk of getting colon cancer than those who don’t. Spinach’s anti-inflammatory properties may help those with asthma and arthritis, and its high concentration of magnesium and riboflavin may provide relief to migraine sufferers as well.

Enhanced energy, improved eyesight, and a boost in brain power are additional potential benefits from a diet rich in spinach. Cooked spinach is an excellent source of iron, a key component of hemoglobin, which moves oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and also aids in energy production and metabolism. Spinach is also abundant in lutein, a carotenoid that helps protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Additionally, spinach protects the brain from oxidative stress. Studies show that eating 3 daily servings of spinach may help slow cognitive decline by 40% due to its high level of vitamin E.

When purchasing spinach, opt for organic varieties to prevent pesticide residues. Choose spinach with a vibrant green hue and tender, fresh leaves. Store fresh spinach unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. It should keep for about five days. Spinach is simple to prepare. Trim off the roots, separate the leaves, and rinse well several times in a large bowl in order to remove any sand and soil. Spinach can be enjoyed cold in a salad with a variety of vegetables and your favorite dressing, or steamed, sautéed, or quick boiled to bring out its sweeter taste. A healthy addition to breakfast omelettes, spinach is also terrific layered in lasagnas and topped on pizza. Experiment to find your personal preference when enjoying "Popeye’s" favorite food.

Garlic Spinach

1 lb organic spinach

olive oil, extra virgin

3 cloves garlic, chopped

sea salt

Steam spinach until it begins to wilt. Remove from heat. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet on medium temperature. Add chopped garlic and sauté for about a minute. Pour garlic-oil over spinach and sea salt to taste. Enjoy!


Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com , email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com , or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.

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