Just read the name spinach, and the imagery begins. A green leafy vegetable is known to be healthy. One of the most ancient edible leafy vegetables, Spinach is not a favorite of many due to its mildly bitter taste.
Any mention of Spinach is incomplete without the mention of the strongest sailor man loved by everyone “Popeye.” An inspiration for many to start and believe in the consumption of Spinach.
Types of spinach are available in the market which has attractive green leaves and delicate differences in the shape, structure, and color of the leaves, though the nutritive value is more or less the same.
Before dwelling into the types of spinach, let’s know this green nutritional vegetable a little better.
Spinach belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae and produces flowers too. They are known to have their roots in ancient Persia from where it spread to India and further to China where it was then called the Persian Vegetable. It has a great nutrition content with majorly all vitamins, minerals, iron and calcium.
The sad part today being that Spinach is one of the crops which are grown these days with heavy usage of pesticides which affect the product quality and our health in the long term.
Types of Spinach
Now it’s time to glide through the three major types of Spinach:
Savoy is the most commonly available spinach. The fresh green bunches of spinach sold in the supermarkets are generally the savoy spinach. It has green leaves which are crinkly and curly in structure.
This category further has many different varieties namely:
- Merlo Nero
A variety which has a texture between the Savoy spinach and flat-leaved spinach. It has lightly crinkled leaves which are smoother than the savoy leaves and not as smooth as the leaves of flat spinach.
This variety gets classified rather sorted into zones in either of the two other divisions depending on which one is it more closely resembling. Tyee hybrid, Indian Summer are both examples of semi-savoy spinach.
(C) Flat or Smooth Leaved Spinach
An upright growing spinach plant which has flat and smooth leaves. The smooth texture of the leaves makes them easier to be washed and cleaned. The smooth spinach can easily be canned and frozen. The leaves of this variety are not just smooth but also broad. Some examples of this variety are:
- Giant Noble
- Space Spinach
- Red Carnival
A detailed description of some of the commonly available varieties under these categories is further listed below:
The Avon variety of spinach showcases dark green leaves which are crinkled and tapered. They are large in size and tender otherwise.
Anna can be cultivated for both baby spinach and matured leaves too. The Anna spinach has oval shaped leaves which are medium green in color and are often frozen for future use.
3) Baby Spoon Spinach
Baby spoon spinach is a savoy kind of spinach. Its leaves are smaller than that of regular savoy. It is crispy and coarse and is usually sweeter than the rest of the varieties of spinach.
4) Bloomsdale Long Standing
This variety of spinach showcases dark green leaves which are generally curled at the ends. These leaves are slightly crinkled.
The Catalina type embraces thick and succulent leaves which are of Spear shape. The Catalina spinach plant is also somewhat resistant to diseases.
The crocodile type of spinach shows great tolerance towards heat. Its leaves are full sized, oval and are bright green.
7) Giant 157
This hybrid of spinach has largest leaves which are tapered.
8) Indian Summer
This spinach has flattened leaves and is very slow to bolt. This is often also called the spinach of spring.
9) Malabar Spinach
Thick fleshy leaves of the Malabar spinach make it easy to recognize. Its leaves are juicy and crisp with a flavor which is citric and peppery. It is almost not spinach but, still categorized as one.
These plants are very slow to bolt and feature deep green oval leaves.
11) New Zealand Spinach
This variety of spinach also is not like other types and is very rich in vitamin C. It is mild in its taste.
The Palco spinach type has smooth leave with subtle green color and is green. These are disease resistant crops.
With thick and dark green leaves are great for growing in the spring season and even during fall. They are moderately resistant to diseases.
This type of spinach has succulent dark green leaves. Even the stems are succulent, and thus, this is one of the best variety for spinach salads.
15) Red Spinach
This bold and red spinach is highly appreciated and has recently gained popularity. This spinach is usually tender and tastes well. It has a delicious and a succulent flavor.
16) Space Spinach
The dark green leaves of this spinach are beautiful to see. These leaves are also tapered but not so pointed at the ends.
Tyee is a spinach type which is hybrid featuring disease resistance. It upright and holds well without losing flavor. The leaves are dark green which is tapered and thick.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Well, every time you eat is a great opportunity for you to nourish your body, and the benefits enlisted below ensure that spinach does just that every time you consume it.
1) Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins and thus protects us from all illnesses related to various vitamin deficiencies. Its high Vitamin A and Vitamin C helps in reducing the free radicals in our body thus, protecting us from chronic diseases and cardiovascular illnesses.
2) This green leafy vegetable has a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties and thus regulates inflammation of any body part.
3) It is a rich source of antioxidants which further benefit us in the mentioned ways:
- Skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and skin cancer are kept at bay.
- They lower the risk of various forms of cancer.
- These are good for our heart health.
4) The presence of vitamin K in spinach helps in strengthening our nervous system.
5) Consumption of spinach maintains the health of our bones due to its calcium and magnesium content.
6) Spinach is rich in iron which helps in prevention of anemia and assist in the formation of hemoglobin.
7) Spinach assists in digestion prevent constipation and curbs overeating due to its high fiber content.
8) Skin is the most sensitive organ of our body and spinach helps in clarifying our skin by preventing us from acne, acting as a sunblock, improves our complexion and most of all they are known to delay the process of aging.
Indeed, in the words of Michael Greger “Popeye was right about Spinach: Dark Green, leafy vegetables are the healthiest foods on the planet. As whole foods go, they offer the most nutrition per calorie.” Spinach thus deserves its place rightly so in our diet because it may not be the tastiest option but, cooking skills can handle that part because as far as health is concerned this vegetable keeps you covered on all sides.