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Back to the Basics 3: Spinach – Strong to the Finish

Do you remember the old Popeye comics from the 1930’s? The feisty sailor man with the pipe and oversize forearms punched his way from adventure to adventure with girlfriend Olive Oyl and bully Bluto.

During the fight scenes, just as he was about to get his lights knocked out, he reached for a special food that gave him superhuman strength. Do you remember what that food was?


Spinach…that super-charged dark leafy green!

On this week’s “Wellness Wednesday,” we want to continue our series of easily-overlooked superfoods. We’ve already looked at Kale and Romaine lettuce, so this is a no-brainer.

Spinach is Versatile

It’s great cold on a salad, blended into a powerful smoothie, or lightly cooked (throw a handful into soup with chicken broth, white beans, and a little onion and celery!). I’ve even seen it sautéed over low heat with coconut or olive oil. And it grows all over the world, so it’s readily available and affordable. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to take for granted.

I want to share a couple of the health benefits you can get from spinach, and then I’ll give you a recipe I know you’ll love.

  1. In every bite of spinach, your body will receive protein, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, manganese, potassium, iron, zinc, calcium, copper, selenium, and niacin. Just try to find another food by itself that contains all that!
  2. In addition to all that mineral content, you will find vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and vitamin K. You’ll also find a day’s worth of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. The high levels of antioxidants work to keep cholesterol from oxidizing.
  4. Folate is great for your heart, as well as your memory. It has been leveraged successfully in maintaining cognition in the elderly.
  5. Magnesium has dozens of health benefits, not least of which are how to helps to lower high blood pressure and maintain a clean gastrointestinal track.
  6. Beta-carotene and vitamin C work to protect the cells around your colon from the harmful effects of free radicals.
  7. Several of the nutrients listed have anti-inflammatory properties as well, so spinach is a powerful weapon in the fight against arthritis, osteoporosis, migraine headaches, asthma, and other forms of inflammation.
  8. Ladies, iron is an important nutrient for most of your life cycle and spinach is one of the best places to get it!

This is just a condensed list, but I hope it’s enough to get you moving toward the produce aisle.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 20 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over low to medium heat. Add garlic and cook until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add spinach and toss to coat. Cover and cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add lemon juice, salt and crushed red pepper. Toss to coat and serve immediately. Makes six 1/2 cup servings.

(Of course, if you just throw a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves into your next smoothie, it will add some nice color, mild flavor, and a treasure trove of nutrients. It’s especially good with strawberries, cherries, pineapple, carrots, granny smith apples, or bananas.

So Many People Are Missing Out

Spinach is always an easier “sell” than kale (and next week’s vegetable), but there are still a ton of people who haven’t tried it. Some kids grow up hating or fearing spinach for crazy reasons, and it’s a shame. They are missing out on so much power in their cells!

Take a minute and share this article with a friend. Who knows? They might go back and read about kale and lettuce and decide to make a dietary switch that turns their whole health around.

You might be saving someone’s life and you don’t even know it!

I don’t mean to overstate it, but you never know what could happen. At the very least, they’ll really be “strong to the finish.”

Join me tomorrow for “Think Right Thursday” and then next week for part 4 of our series on “Wellness Wednesday.”

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas


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