I’m Popeye the sailor man, I’m Popeye the sailor man, I’m strong to the finish because I eats me spinach
Do you know Popeye the Sailor? I’m quite sure everybody knows this brusque and good-hearted comic strip character. The cartoon was born in the 30’s, in the midst of an economic crisis that strongly affected the american agriculture. Popeye was meant to help the local economy by advertising the production of spinach.
100 grams of fresh leaves contain about 3.6 g of carbohydrates, 2.2 g of fibers, 2.2 g of protein and 0.4 g of fat. Low in calories yet very high in vitamins, spinach provides vitamin S, K, A, C, B2 and B6. However, despite this nutrient richness, when Popeye become popular spinach was claimed as a very healthy vegetable only because of iron, which was credited with mythical strength-giving properties. Now we know that, when E. Sagar created the newspaper comic strip, the iron content of spinach was mistakenly believed to be 10 times higher than it really is.
A more recent study carried out at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in Sweden, found out that the strengthening benefits from spinach would be instead due to nitrates. Forget about iron, which is after all contained in spinach as much as in other vegetables. Just nitrates and truly nitrates, those compounds mostly known as potentially harmful constituents in food and drinking water, are responsible for a powerful effect on muscles. Scientists now claim that, once processed during the digestion, even modest quantities of nitrate would be beneficial on muscular efficiency.
Do you understand why when I read this article I decided to dedicate a whole shelf in my fridge to spinach? I used it to make a frittata and this easy smoothie. The creamiest smoothie I have ever made! I mixed strawberry, spinach and oats in the blender together with soy milk. I obtained a sugar free and hearty shake that managed to keep at bay my hunger for long.