Spinach is seen both as a life force and a cause for sheer rebellion, depending on whom you ask. The enthusiast might be the token health nut in your friend circle and the pessimist is likely your 7-year-old daughter and most grown men. However, whichever side of the spinach argument you fall on, there’s no denying it’s insanely healthy for you.
Health benefits: Spinach is one of the best foods you can add to your diet as it’s loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients like iron, vitamin C, niacin, calcium and vitamin B. It’s also an excellent source of free-radical fighting antioxidants, and contains folate, fiber, lutein and potassium, which are all essential for maintaining a healthy heart.
Helpful tip: Did you know that microgreens can pack up to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts? For this reason, stick to baby spinach when possible. And if you really want to be an over-achiever, organic is best since the whole green in consumed.
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Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and University of Maryland conducted a study to determine the level of nutrients in microgreens, specifically compared to more mature vegetables. Microgreens are tiny versions of vegetables, herbs, and other plants and are about one to two inches long with the stem and leaves still attached. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
As reported by NPR, researchers looked for large doses of vitamins and other phytochemicals, such as vitamin C, E, and beta carotene. Gene Lester, a researcher with the USDA, said the findings “totally knocked me over.”
The team found that all 25 varieties of microgreens had four to 40 times more nutrients than their matured counterparts. Lester said the findings give us a new insight into plants, “because these are little tiny seeds barely exposed to much light at all. And yet those compounds [nutrients] are there ready to go.”
Diets In Review’s resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, wasn’t surprised by the results of the study. “The findings make sense because the young plant is rapidly accumulating nutrients during its period of rapid growth, and it is also still releasing nutrients stored in the seed,” she said. “I’ll bet microgreens are high in protein and very digestible, too.”
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