We all know nowadays that spinach is no longer the miracle vegetable full of iron it can turn the thinnest man into the Terminator version of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but let’s face it, Popeye the Sailor Man, the muscle – packed character lied to us for a very long time. Modern science related to nutrition and chemistry proved without a doubt that the iron content of spinach is quite negligible, not to mention that being plant – based iron, it is quite hard to assimilate. However, behind Popeye’s world – wide success lies the error of Mr. Erich von Wolf, a German chemist who was studying back in 1870 the nutritional benefits of spinach. The man got distracted one day and instead of correctly writing the iron concentration in spinach - namely 3.5 grams, the chemist wrote 35 grams. This turned spinach into a fabulous and miraculous vegetable and starting with 1929 – the birth year of Popeye – everybody was convinced that spinach contained more iron than red meat.
Popeye was conceived for marketing purposes and boy, did he have success! The super – vegetable together with this unlikely, but super – hero (who could shame even Superman once in a while if they were ever to meet) managed to save the spinach industry, as they sky rocketed the sales of canned spinach by 33% back in the thirties. In 1937, two major events took place: the ones responsible with Popeye and the spinach business admitted to the error of the iron concentration and tried correcting it, with no success whatsoever (people were so in love with Popeye they continued to buy spinach and they couldn’t care less about the error), while in the same time, in the city of Crystal, Popeye received his own statue – a monument in his honor for saving a line of industry.
People still buy canned spinach with Popeye’s face on the label and are still convinced this is the superhero vegetable that turns a child into an iron hero. Without undermining the real qualities of spinach and to honor Popeye as perhaps the best marketer the world of business has ever met, let’s see in short three iron – full foods that would increase Popeye’s performance and stamina even better than spinach.
While never considered something you could eat every day – mostly because they are quite expensive and don’t belong to peoples’ daily grocery list – oysters belong to the category of iron – full foods, with 12 mg / 100 grams – a tough competitor for spinach’s 3.5 grams. Oysters are healthy in various other ways, as they represent a powerful source of vitamins (almost the entire B Vitamin series) and a lot of minerals.
Much more accessible to peoples’ diets, especially if they suffer from anemia, liver (be it chicken, beef or pig) is the doctors’ first choice of iron – full foods they recommend for a healthy nutrition. Depending the animal it comes from, liver can contain from 4 to 12 milligrams of iron. However, it’s hard to believe you’d see a cartoon character sit down and enjoy some liver saute before going to save the world.
Now this is a miracle vegetable but it should be consumed raw instead of cooked and canned, so imagining Popeye chewing on a broccoli branch is fun, but not plausible. People should eat more broccoli, not only because is one powerful iron – full foods, but because it contains more Vitamin C than oranges (and you know iron is fixed better in the organism when associated with Vitamin C), but it also contains more calcium than milk. It also plays an anti – oxidant and anticancer roles, among others, and it has minerals and biochemicals which makes it the ultimate vegetable. This is something Superman should market, provided he loses his powers somehow…
Popeye does indeed live a healthy life by following his spinach diet and even if he is quite old, he still has the moves and the muscles. However, there are plenty iron – full foods out there that should make it to your table and we are sure Popeye wouldn’t take offense if you add some beans, red meat or tofu to your eating habits.