Healing Power of Spinach - Replenish iron, reduce fatigue & support fertility, naturally.
Updated: Jan 17, 2022
Have you eaten your greens today?
The nutrient-dense, low-calorie, dark green goddess of leafy veg, Spinach, is regarded as a superfood, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants necessary to serve your winter wellbeing. Let's explore how we can optimise its therapeutic properties.
The Winter Harvest Festival, Lohri
This week, 13th January, the festival of Lohri is celebrated across North Indian communities to honor the Winter Harvest. The festival is symbolic of the ripening of the winter crops as well as the start of a new harvesting season. Lohri is all about delicious food, family, and friends, along with traditional folk songs and dance and creating bonds between family, neighbors, and friends. For young married couples wanting to start a family, or to celebrate the firstborn, special prayers and rituals are performed to honour the Goddess of fertility and prosperity for an abundant harvest!
A popular dish cooked for this occasion is Spinach, also called saag aloo or aloo palak (potato and spinach) you may have tasted this recipe in restaurants - however, nothing compares to homemade, with love!
My authentic Punjabi saag aloo recipe includes all the therapeutic values of spices that enhance the bioavailability of nutrients offered by spinach to optimize health, such as improved energy levels (fatigue is often related to low levels of iron), boosts libido, supports immune and heart health. Also known as the green Goddess of fertility due to its rich source of iron, folate, and magnesium, this recipe is enjoyed by all.
Enjoy the bountiful benefits of this muscle building, libido-enhancing, blood tonic, Saag aloo (potato spinach) recipe, made with love from the heart of my home. ( popeye would be jealous!) - Happy Lohri!
Medium leek or onion
5-6 cloves of garlic
Fresh ginger (generous helping)
2 whole green chilies
Salt (black & Himalayan)
Organic spinach / green curly kale/broccoli ( sprouts option ) - washed and cut
Cumin - 3 tsp
Dry fenugreek leaves
Turmeric - 2 tsp
Turmeric - teaspoon
I recommend using a deep stainless steel pot. You will also need a hand blender and a strong wooden ladle for stirring
How to cook and combine spices for saag aloo.
Heat a generous amount of ghee in a large stainless steel pot, until hot.
Add cumin, leek, garlic, ginger, and chilies. Saute until leeks soft, and the aromatic scent of spices release.
Stir in dried fenugreek leaves, and finally add turmeric.
Now begin to fold in the greens, take your time to add them one handful at a time whilst folding into the spice mix.
The greens will begin to release water, or if too dry, add half cup water to the mix. cover with a lid and let it cook gently on medium gas.
Whilst the greens are cooking, let's prepare the potatoes. This is optional, you can also add tofu or paneer, or another veg of choice, or eat the spinach as is.
Wash and dice the potatoes, put in a pan of water to boil until parboiled. drain water and leave to stand. Alternatively, coat tofu / or paneer in oil and place in the oven for 15mins until crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
To another pan, add a spoon of ghee.
Ghee is necessary to break down the mineral bonds, vit K2, and enhance the bioavailability of essential minerals. Remember, the energetic influence of this recipe has the potential to make your body glow from the inside out!
Saute onions in ghee with cumin until golden (or soft) and aromatic, then add a spoon of turmeric. Add parboiled potatoes or tofu to the spice mix, and salt.
Check on spinach, if the leaves have melted, switch off the gas and allow the mixture to stand until cool. Use a hand blender to blend the mixture into a smooth paste (or to preferred consistency) You may need to add some water if the mixture is too thick.
Now you are ready to fold the potatoes/ paneer or tofu into the spinach.
Traditionally served with butter, and a side plate of raw onions, lime, and cornmeal bread, or naan.
One cup of raw spinach contains:
0.86 grams (g) of protein
30 milligrams (mg) of calcium
0.81 g of iron
24 mg of magnesium
167 mg of potassium
2,813 international units (IU) of Vitamin A
58 micrograms of folate
Spinach also contains vitamin K1, fiber, phosphorus, and thiamine. Most of the calories in spinach come from protein and carbohydrates (in the form of insoluble fiber, which keeps the bowels healthy.
Vitamins and minerals
Spinach is an excellent source of many vitamin and minerals, including :
Vitamin A. Spinach is high in carotenoids, which your body can turn into vitamin A (with the use of oils)
Vitamin C. a powerful antioxidant that promotes skin health and immune function.
Vitamin K1. essential for blood clotting. Notably, one spinach leaf contains over half of your daily needs.
Folic acid. Also known as folate or vitamin B9, is vital for fetal development and essential for normal cellular function and tissue growth.
Iron. Spinach is an excellent source of this essential mineral. Iron helps create hemoglobin, which brings oxygen to your body’s tissues.
Calcium. This mineral is essential for bone health and a crucial signaling molecule for your nervous system, heart, and muscles.
Spinach also contains several other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6, B9, and E.
Spinach contains the richest dietary source of Quercetin, an antioxidant that may ward off infection and inflammation.
In addition, spinach is also a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may help protect your eyes from damaging UV light and other harmful light wavelengths.
Health benefits of Spinach
Studies suggest thylakoid extracts from plants like spinach may reduce your appetite. This happens because they lower levels of a hunger hormone and raise hormones that make you feel full. Thylakoids can also make your stomach empty later.
You might think sipping water and other drinks are the only way to hydrate. But food can help you reach that goal, too. Spinach is a rich source of hydration, as are soups, casseroles, and dishes made through slow cooking methods.
Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Spinach contains calcium, manganese, magnesium and vitamin K1, which are important for healthy bones. These are made available by cooking spinach in ghee, or by adding some butter before eating.
Risk of Iron Deficiency Anemia
Feeling tired? One reason may be due to low iron levels. Spinach is a vegetarian source of iron, a mineral you need to help red blood cells bring oxygen to different areas of your body. When you have too little iron, you get iron deficiency anemia. This condition might make you feel weak, dizzy, and have trouble breathing.
Strengthens the Immune System
Spinach boosts the immune system, which is essential to keep you safe from viruses, toxins, and bacteria that cause disease.
Boosts Libido & Assists Fertility
Spinach is a rich source of folate, which prevents neural tube birth defects like spina bifida in babies. Folic acid is usually recommended if you are planning on conceiving (the man-made version of folate) as well as vitamin D3 (to prevent rickets, bone defects)
spinach also contains vitamin B6, important for fetal brain development.
Keeps Eyes Healthy
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids in spinach that lower the chances of having long-term eye conditions. For example, vitamin C, lowers your odds of getting cataracts. You also get tons of fat-soluble vitamin A from spinach, which supports good vision.
Fights Free Radicals
You can get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, and spinach is no exception. Antioxidants limit the harm that molecules called "free radicals" can do to your cells. Cell damage from free radicals may play a role in illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson's disease.
Supports Cardiovascular Health
Spinach is a source of inorganic nitrate, which studies suggest may lower your chance of getting heart disease. Research shows it can lower your blood pressure and make your arteries less stiff, among other benefits. You also get potassium from spinach, which helps keep your heart working right.
Spinach cooked and eaten at the right time of year, can reduce Inflammation, often as a result of long-term stress. Eating foods like spinach that have anti-inflammation perks is a way you can reduce the inflammation in your body.
The vitamin C in spinach has many benefits, including helping your body make collagen, which it needs to repair injuries. Vitamin C also helps your body increase the amount of iron it absorbs from plant-based foods, which supports the healing process, too.
How to choose fresh spinach
Dark leafy greens are best, avoid yellow droopy or lifeless variety. the darker the colour the better. Always opt for organic greens, and prepare them seasonally to benefit from their therapeutic superfood value.
In summer, enjoy spinach raw in a salad or blended into a smoothie for its folate content.
In the colder months, sauté spinach or steam it. Always add good fats, such as ghee, olive oil, or butter to improve nutrient bioavailability and enhance bowel movement.
Taking iron supplements
I advocate whole food, seasonal and homecooked. Eating a balanced diet personalised to your constitution is the best way to assimilate nutrients. However, sometimes the need arises to take supplements to replenish stores due to excessive stress, not eating properly or after an illness.
The best way to take iron is organically through whole food. However, if your levels are too low, you may be prescribed iron tablets. For optimal absorption, iron should be taken with Vitamin C, also include a protein meal such as egg or lentil (congee, kichree).
Iron usually depletes zinc levels, so be sure to replace zinc and magnesium in the evenings after a meal. This will also aid in relaxation and sleep.
Working with Gee Gahir, an accredited EMCC intuitive lifestyle coach providing preventative naturopathic mind-body-space solutions to facilitate vibrant health and balanced lifestyles. For bespoke nutritional or seasonal naturopathic coaching, please complete the lifestyle questionnaire and request a free 30min consultation (depending on availability)
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