Turns out Popeye really was onto something – although, he might have been getting his brain and his brawn mixed up as it turns out that spinach and brain health go hand-in-hand.
Spinach and brain health
A new study, reported in the Neurology journal, found that eating one portion of spinach a day – or other leafy green veggies, like kale, asparagus, chard, lettuce and rocket – can help slow down, and even prevent, the onset of dementia in later life.
In fact, those in the study who ate around 40g raw or 120g cooked greens daily, were found to have far healthier brains, with better memory, thinking speed and visual reasoning.
The problem is, how do you fit that much greenery into your diet and increase spinach brain health – especially if you don’t adore spinach? Here are a few ideas.
How to get more spinach in your diet to boost brain health
1. Having a side salad with that meal? Swap out iceberg lettuce for raw spinach leaves, and add in some finely chopped kale leaves (if your kale’s tough, soften it up with a squeeze of lemon juice).
2. Bulk up homemade curries by chucking in a whole bag of raw spinach 30 seconds before serving, it’ll wilt into the sauce and you’ll barely know it’s there.
3. If you’re whizzing up a batch of pesto, alongside your basil leaves, add in the same amount of spinach for extra brain-boosting zing.
4. Run out of lettuce for your burger or sandwich? A handful of raw spinach will do the job.
5. Not everyone appreciates a morning smoothie, but if you do, regardless of the flavour you’re going for, a handful of raw spinach blitzed in will up your iron content.
6. Up the brain power of your scrambled eggs by stirring through raw spinach.
7. Pea and mint is a classic soup, but you can boost how green it is by blitzing in a load of spinach too.
8. For a quick pasta sauce, whizz together spinach, garlic and lemon juice, then stir through grated courgette and a dollop of creme fraiche – add to spaghetti and you’re good to go.
9. Rather than a classic beef lasagne, try one where you substitute meat for spinach, pine nuts and squash.
10. In fact, for any pasta bake you make, spinach is your friend.
11. Use spinach leaves like you would lettuce, as mini cups for couscous salads, shredded lamb or chicken.
12. No stir fry is complete without a bag of spinach.
13. Sprinkle it on pizza, mushrooms on toast, fried eggs, tomato stews, put it in any sauce, alongside any meat – be inventive.
Now, the internet will tell you that spinach muffins are also delicious, but we draw the line there. You’d be better off eating a bag of the stuff as if it were crisps.
Recommended: How to make Jamie Oliver’s super spinach pancakes.