Does spinach make you strong? Ask Popeye – and science

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Gregory McNamie, CNN

If you were a kid who grew up between the 1930s and 1970s, or been raised by someone who grew up around that time, spinach might have grown up with the idea of ​​being an exceptional muscle builder.

The concept is due to a designer named Elzie Crisler Segar, who created the character based on the rough, hard-drinking residents of his hometown of Illinois. Seger christened the sailor character Popeye, who made his Strip debut in 1929.

In 1933, Popeye was immediately empowered by spinach when he began to appear as one of the protagonists of an animated series called “Thimble Theater”.

And he needed it, thanks to the Assortment of Enemies on the High Seas and Terra Farm. Every time a little sailor lowered a can of spinach, his muscles would swell and he was able to knock out the stuffing of his foe, a pirate sailor called Brute.

The legend of Popeye – and the source of his superpower – has long outlasted the character. But experts say it takes a complicated order to answer the question of whether spinach really makes us stronger.

The science of spinach

Norman Horde, president of the University of Oklahoma’s faculty of nutrition, said that one of the potential points to support the relationship between spinach and muscle strength is that it is high in nitrates which “can improve muscular endurance ”. is. These nitrates are quickly depleted during exercise or during exercise, and replenishing them “increases the production of exercise force in the skeletal muscles”.

“Further research is currently underway to determine whether an increase in nitrates in muscles can lead to increased muscle strength and improved athletic performance,” Hord added.

Fitness and exercise guru Timothy Ferriss (born 1977, probably too young to catch Popeye’s bugs) wrote in his book “The 4-Hour Chef: An Easy Way Like Cooking”. Do not quote the Ac Acking Sailor. “Professionals, learn everything and live a good life,” he recommends a “slow carbohydrate” diet of eggs, meat, fish, lentils and spinach as the shortest path to weight loss and overall physical fitness.

This is in good agreement with Hord’s observations that spinach is high in vitamin K and helps lower blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Spinach is also a great source of vitamin C, unless it’s cooked in an unrecognizable way. Contains neither cholesterol nor fat.

Harold McGee, dean of the Department of Culinary Sciences, argued that there is a better source of strength-building minerals. “Despite Popeye, spinach is a great source of vitamin A, but not that high in iron,” he now writes in the classic book “About Food and Cooking: Kitchen Science and Tradition”. I go.

Pumping irons don’t mean McGee, but they are the irons needed to burn a bulging bicep and a great 6-pack.

How to enjoy the benefits of spinach

Atlanta nutritionist Lahaf Al Bochi promotes the general health benefits of vegetables.

“Spinach contains antioxidants, vitamins such as folic acid, magnesium and vitamin A, and fiber which is important for reducing the risk of chronic disease, so it is advisable to add spinach to your diet. . “I will,” says Arbochi.

It also contains other substances which provide various benefits. Spinach is high in lutein and is believed to promote eye health and reduce the incidence of macular degeneration. This is primarily a concern for people over the age of 55. Lutein levels drop dramatically when spinach is cooked, but increase when used in a liquefied form, so it’s best to eat with a smoothie to get this benefit. According to a 2019 study published in Food Chemistry.

Many types of leafy vegetables, including cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and bok choy, are known to control not only certain cancers but also heart disease and stroke. Spinach joins them, and the biggest benefit of these vegetables is Their raw or lightly cooked form.

Finally, a diet containing green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and greens, and all the good ones Al Bochi pointed out, seems to help delay cognitive decline. 2018 study among 960 elderly people Posted in Neurology Cognitively, people who ate 1.3 or more servings per day would be 11 years younger on average than those who ate little or no leafy vegetables.

Are there any drawbacks?

Even with all this potential, Popeye’s favorite foods do have some drawbacks. Spinach, especially raw spinach, can make some people look high in gas. Spinach can taste dull, depending on taste, but it naturally contains enough sodium, so there is no need to add salt. If you want to recharge your batteries, it is better to add lemon juice than salt. Too much sodium It is not good to be empathetic.

“A lot of foods are unhealthy,” Hord said. “Spinach contains oxalic acid. Oxalic acid can bind minerals such as calcium to food and prevent them from being absorbed.

If you’re worried that your system is getting enough calcium, it’s a good idea to exclude spinach from cheese lasagna, where spinach is often used. Too much oxalic acid is also a recipe for kidney stones, so Hord added that it’s easy to get oxalic acid, “it can have a negative effect on people.”

The vitamin K in spinach “may also interfere with the functioning of blood thinners such as warfarin. People taking blood thinners may want to limit their consumption of spinach for this reason. Maybe, ”Hord said.

Add spinach to your diet

Now, with all of these conditions in mind, what’s the best way to make spinach work? In honor of Popeye, cans might not be the most delicious way to present it to your table. Many people like to put raw spinach in their salads. It is generally good. Keep in mind that spinach can be a great vehicle for E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and other harmful bacteria and bacteria.

For this reason, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cooking spinach at 160º for 15 seconds. This kills potentially deadly bacteria. Lightly fry the fresh spinach with a small drop of olive oil or avocado oil to stick to this baseline and make it delicious and nutritious. Another option is to wash yourself thoroughly with running water before eating spinach and other leafy vegetables.

“It’s very versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked. You can enjoy spinach in addition to salads, smoothies and muffins, stir-fries, soups and pesto, ”says Arbochi. ..

Indeed, it is versatile and delicious. But does spinach make you stronger? Probably not explosively strong, Popeye is strong. However, spinach has many other benefits, so feel free to use it if the green is a circle. If you don’t mind, don’t take it out of the box.

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Gregory McNamie writes on books, science, food, geography, and more from his home in Arizona.

Does spinach make you strong? Ask Popeye – and science Does spinach make you strong? Ask Popeye – and science


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