Canned Spinach: Improving Shelf Life
We often hear seniors moaning about the pollution and adulteration. They are right in some ways and there is evidence to support their claim. Fortunately we have gifts from Mother Nature that are free from pollution and can do wonders to our health and overall well being. Spinach is one of these products that have been there for hundreds of years and looking after nutritional requirements of people around the world. The green, leafy plant that originated in south west Asia, is today grown in all parts of the world and being sold fresh as well as sold in cans. In fact, canned spinach is more popular in the western world while in Asia, people prefer to buy it fresh all the time. Fresh spinach has a very small shelf life and unless kept in a refrigerator, it rots because of heat within 2-3 days. Spinach has been immortalized by cartoonist E. C. Segar as a weapon for his character Popeye in his cartoon strip Popeye the sailor man. Bluto, another sailor, who is double the size of Popeye, tries to take away his girlfriend by impressing her, and Popeye has to consume spinach to gain muscle power and strength to fight and overcome him. Olive is the girlfriend of Popeye who falls in trouble because of the antics of Bluto and Popeye has to eat spinach to be able to save her from the clutches of Bluto all the time. Sweat pea is the name of the little baby shown in the cartoon sometimes, and people mistakenly think of him as a baby of Popeye and his girlfriend Olive. The comic strip showing Popeye eating spinach to gain strength became very popular and the sale of spinach in cans as well as fresh increased many times. Though the creator of the cartoon strip, E. C. Segar treated spinach as the source of beta carotene and hence acting like a super food for Popeye, the common people perceived it to be a treasure house of iron whose content in spinach was mistakenly taken to be ten times its correct value because of a mistake by the scientist Von Bunge and the practice of bad science that continued till 1930’s. Though the actual iron content in spinach is 1/10th of the value suggested by Von Bunge, it is still much more than found in any other food source. Besides iron, spinach is full of nutrients that are a source of instant energy and strength for human beings. Spinach is one food item that has been the subject of research by scientists all along, and the benefits that accrue to those consuming it fresh or in canned form are still unfolding after a century of research. Recently it has been found that spinach creates nitric acid in mouth when eaten. This nitric acid is helpful in reducing blood pressure and thus great for millions suffering from high blood pressure. It has already been proved to be helpful in lowering blood sugar and thus good for diabetics.
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