Why Spinach Is the King of Leafy Greens

Before there was kale, there was another “King of Leafy Greens.”

Spinach.

Although not currently as trendy as kale, spinach should be recognized as the vegetable superstar that it is: delicious, versatile, and full of health promoting nutrients.

Now is a great time to revisit this topic because National Spinach Day is March 26th!

What You Might Not Know About Spinach…

spinach bunchOriginally native to central and southwest Asia, spinach has become popular around the globe over the centuries.

  • It was a favorite food of Catherine de’ Medici, a Queen of France who was born in Florence. That is why dishes served on top of a bed of spinach are called “Florentine.”
  • China is the world’s top producer of the leafy green, responsible for 91 percent of global spinach production.
  • In the 1930s, cartoon character Popeye made spinach popular through his testimony that he is “strong to the finish, ‘cause I eats me spinach’. Popeye even helped to boost spinach sales by 30%.

What Is So Great About Spinach?

spinach leavesThere are many reasons spinach deserves the title of “King of Leafy Greens.”

Bursting with wholesomeness, spinach…

  • Nourishes our bodies with antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Is a very good source of calcium, dietary fiber, protein, and folate.
  • Helps release satiety hormones and reduces hunger and cravings for snacks and sweets.

As such, spinach is great for your skin, digestive system, and overall health and wellness.

But What About Spinach and Kidney Stones?

spinach leavesCalcium oxalate is the most common type of kidney stone.

Since spinach is one of the highest sources of oxalates in the diet, kidney stone sufferers are usually advised to limit their consumption of oxalate-rich spinach.

However, before we jump to conclusions, it is worthwhile to point out a few facts:

  • A recent study showed that a higher vegetable intake did not increase the risk of kidney stone formation. In fact, the opposite seemed to be true, i.e. a greater intake of whole plant-based foods was associated with a reduced risk of kidney stones.
  • The most important ways to prevent kidney stones are to drink lots of water (10-12 glasses per day) and to reduce consumption of meat and sodium. The water dilutes the concentration of calcium, oxalate and uric acid while reduced animal protein decreases uric acid load in the urine.
  • Evidence suggests that calcium oxalate stones are linked to the potential renal acid load of foods. For that reason, researchers have developed a “Load of Acid to Kidney’ (LAKE) score to measure the acid load in different foods.

According to the LAKE score, the most acid-producing foods are fish, pork, chicken, and dairy while the most alkalinizing foods are vegetables, fruits, and beans, with vegetables at the top of the list!

Dr. Rosane Oliveira and Spinach and Mushroom QuicheSpinach: The Chef’s Delight

Spinach is infinitely versatile and a joy to cook with.

You can add more spinach into your diet by including it in salads, using it to top pizza, tossing it into pasta, blending it into smoothies and juices, and preparing it as a side dish.

But when it comes to National Spinach Day on March 26th, the best way to celebrate is to eat it!

And to help you with that here is an incredibly versatile recipe for Spinach and Mushroom Quiche that can be made with either tofu or chickpeas and it is sure to please!

Let’s make Popeye proud!