As most of us are already well aware, there is a bit of a spinach scare going around. The reason? The bacteria E. coli had contaminated an unknown shipment of spinach and had spread throughout eight states, killing at least one person and striking at least 50 others, making them ill.
It made considerable news because the strain of E. coli was a particularly virulent one, which can put a toxin in your body that runs the risk of triggering bad diarrhea, kidney failure, and even death. Some of the companies on the offender’s list include River Ranch Fresh Foods, Natural Selection Foods, Farmers Market, Hy-Vee, and Fresh and Easy. After investigating the path of the bacteria, officials discovered that bagged spinach seemed to rise to the top of the contaminated list.
How could this happen? The FDA says that irrigation water could be the culprit or possibly a processing issue in the factory where the bags were sealed. Inside a bag of salad mix, E. coli can quickly spread to all pieces of vegetable because of the warm, humid environment. Every so often, a scare such as this one happens.
The scare shouldn’t last long and there will be more stringent measures taken in the future to prevent a re- infection of E. coli from occurring. Spinach, as you know, is incredibly healthy. All dark leafy greens are valuable sources of nutrients. So since you may be wary of spinach for the next few months, here are some alternatives to consider in its stead:
1) Mustard greens: These are the leaves of the mustard plant, as you may have guessed. The volume of nutrients in these leaves is unmatched in any other food. They are a tremendous source of vitamins A and C, folate, dietary fiber, vitamin E, tryptophan, manganese, vitamin B6, and calcium. Potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and copper are also found in abundance in mustard greens. In all, there are nine vitamins, seven minerals, and protein present in mustard greens.
2) Turnip greens: These originate from the turnip plant and are used routinely in South American cuisine. The deeper the color of green is, the healthier the veggie. They are enormously high in vitamin A and pack a big dose of antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene. Turnip greens contain similar nutrients as those found in mustard greens.
3) Collard greens: These greens are dark blue-green, smooth to the touch, and smoky to the taste. The nutrients in collard greens are useful in protecting the heart, boosting the immune system, scavenging free radicals, raising the antioxidant levels of the blood, and helping block cancer. This option has one of the highest levels of calcium of any vegetable. Among its folds are vitamins A, C, B6, B2, and E; many minerals; and even omega-3s.
4) Kale: These are also blue-green and are rich in phytochemicals. Kale offers more nutrients and fewer calories than most foods do. Kale is also exploding with vitamin A and to a lesser, yet still very high extent, vitamin C. Seventeen other vitamins and minerals are inside kale, including “lutein,” which is a carotenoid that protects your vision.
Any of these are excellent additions to a salad or sandwich, and are all actually much more healthier for you than spinach.