Friday, September 08, 2006

Spinach - Keerai - Palak

Spinach is a leafy vegetable having broad deep green leaves. It is rated high in leafy vegetables, full of nutrition. This vegetable is a cool season annual crop which matures quickly. Spinach is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly folate (folic acid), vitamin K, magnesium, and manganese; it also contains more protein than most vegetables.

Spinach can have either flat or slightly crinkled leaves. It is often available as baby spinach, which is especially useful for salads. Spinach can be purchased fresh, frozen, or canned. Fresh spinach is sold in bunches or already washed and sealed in plastic bags. A number of other greens that are similar to spinach are often sold in specialty stores. These include New Zealand spinach, which comes from a different plant family.

Origin and Distribution
It was originated in Arabia. It was cultivated 2000 years ago in Persia and from there it spread to Spain (its name derived from a Spanish word). It is cultivated in India on a large scale.

Properties of spinach
Diuretic, demulcent, soothing, refrigerant, mild laxative, antianaemic, ophthalmic, anti-inflammatory.

Food Value of spinach
The chemical constituents of spinach are essential amino acids, iron, vitamin A and folic acid. It is one or the cheapest vegetables which supplies the same amount of protein as one gets from the same quantity of meat, fish, eggs and chicken.

Spinach analysis gives the following composition:

Moisture 92.1 %
Protein 2.0 %
Fibre 0.6 %
Carbohydrate 2.9 %
Phosphorus 20 mg
Fat 0.7 %
Calcium 75 mg
Vitamin C 30 mg
Iron 11 mg

Medicinal Uses & benefits
Spinach leaves are diuretic and mild laxative.
Spinach juice cleans the digestive tract by removing the collected waste product. It nourishes the intestines and tones up their movements. It is, therefore, an excellent food remedy for constipation.
Spinach is a source of high grade iron & contributes in the formation of blood. So, it is very useful in anemia.
Spinach is a good source of calcium and other alkaline elements essential to keep tissues clean and retain blood alkalinity. So, it is an antacid too.
Spinach also takes care of our eyes as it contains vitamin A in good amount. Therefore, it helps in controlling night blindness and other eye problems.
Spinach juice provides strength to the gums and helps in preventing and curing dental cavities. Chewing raw spinach leaves cures pyorrhoea. A mixture of carrot and spinach juice taken early in the morning cures bleeding and ulcerated gums.
Spinach is a rich source of folic acid and useful during pregnancy and lactation. Regular use- of spinach during pregnancy helps prevent deficiency of folic acid, lack of which may cause abortion, shortness of breath, loss of weight and diarrhea. It also increases production of milk during lactation.
Spinach juice, when taken with coconut water twice a day, works as a diuretic due to the combined action of both nitrates and potassium. It is useful in cystitis, nephritis and scanty urination caused due to dehydration.
Spinach leaves plus two teaspoonfuls fenugreek seeds containing a pinch of ammonium chloride and honey when infused, prove to be an effective expectorant tonic for bronchitis, asthma and dry cough. Doses are 30 ml, three times daily.

Note: As it contains oxalic acid which is insoluble in stomach and intestine fluid, it is harmful in gravels, gout and liver disease. Therefore, it should not be used by those suffering from these diseases.

Recipes made using Spinach.

Palak Dal
Keerai Kootu
Keerai Masial
Palak Paneer
Palak Rice

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