Popeye was right: Spinach packs a punch. While the cartoon character Popeye’s results are exaggerated, the health benefits associated with eating raw and cooked spinach are legitimate and should not be underestimated. Spinach is rich in beta-carotene and lutein, two important cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. This leafy green vegetable is also loaded with folic acid, vitamin K, magnesium and manganese.
There are three main types of spinach: the Savoy, Semi-Savoy and the Flat or Smooth-leafed. Semi-Savoy has partially wrinkled leaves like Savoy but is easier to clean. Flat-leafed spinach is used mainly for processing, featured in most canned or frozen spinach items in the store.
Available year-round, the spinach season peaks during the months of December through May. Spinach grows best in sandy soil and prefers cooler, relatively dry conditions. Therefore it is no surprise that spinach crops thrive during the winter months in California and Texas, the two leading spinach- producing states in the country.
Spinach is a versatile vegetable that is great as a salad, in a dip, in omelets or in soups. Popeye’s love of spinach is credited with saving the spinach industry back in the 1930’s, so much so that the self-proclaimed “Spinach Capital of the World”, Crystal City, TX, erected a statue in his honor. So eat up!