You’ve seen this popular leafy vegetable in salads, side dishes and as a popular addition to omelets and many other dishes.
If you’re a lover of spinach, then you’ve probably heard that there are different types of spinach, and you may have even tried them.
There’s actually 4 categories of spinach, whilst some say there are 3, there is a special 4th category that we’ll go into more detail about in a short while.
So, after knowing that there’s 4 categories of spinach, you may be wondering if baby spinach is a part of these categories.
Since it is widely sold all over the world and highly popular due to its small, cute and tasty characteristics.
This article aims to explore the difference between spinach and baby spinach and which one offers you more nutritional value. Let’s get into it!
Are Spinach And Baby Spinach Different Things?
You can probably tell by the name that baby spinach is a type of spinach that is quite small, but interestingly baby spinach is actually just the smaller, younger leaves of the flat or smooth leaf spinach variety.
Farmers will harvest it during the early stages of plant growth , usually around 15 and 35 days after planting.
Both baby spinach and spinach are essentially the same leafy green vegetables, but baby spinach has more of a sweeter flavor than its mature counterpart and the smaller leaves are more tender.
This is where it gets a bit confusing, if you connect the spinach vegetable with savoy, wild spinach or semi-savoy, it’s no longer necessarily baby spinach.
If that doesn’t make much sense to you, don’t worry. We’re going to discuss the four different types of spinach in the next section in a bit more detail.
The Four Different Types Of Spinach
Like we mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of people who are adamant that there’s only 3 types of spinach, but there is a 4th type that people tend to forget about.
All types of spinach are quite similar, which is why people will tend to categorize any type of spinach under the broad term of ‘spinach’.
Smooth Or Flat Leaf Type
The first type of spinach is the smooth or flat leaf type. This is what baby spinach is, it’s simply just a smooth or flat leaf spinach that has been harvested in its youth.
You can usually tell that you’re eating flat leaf spinach by its taste, it has a mild and slightly earthy taste and you’ll be able to taste the crispiness of the leaf.
The next type of spinach is called savoy. You’ll be able to tell this spinach variety apart from flat leaf spinach as savoy has a beautiful dark green, bumpy almost kale like appearance.
It tends to have quite a rich flavor that can almost be slightly bitter tasting, but it’s not overpowering by any means.
This variety of spinach is quite popular due to its flavor and texture. So you’ll most likely see this one being sold over the others at your local grocery store.
You can probably guess what this type of spinach is by the name, but if not, it’s essentially a mixture of both the savoy and flat leaf type of spinach.
It has a slightly lighter color than savoy spinach, more like flat leaf but its texture is more on the bumpy side, just like savoy!
The last type of spinach is the one that causes all the controversy. Wild spinach, also known as lamb’s quarters, is something many people, especially gardeners will be familiar with.
It’s more widely recognized as a weed that people tend to rip out of their gardens to make room for other types of plants.
It’s a wild type of spinach, so its flavor is more earthy and bitter than its counterparts, and it has more of a fuzzy and slightly pointed texture rather than the classic round, smooth (or bumpy) the other types of spinach possess.
Read More: Which Is Healthier Kale Or Spinach?
How Does Spinach Earn The Name Baby Spinach?
Baby spinach isn’t its own type of spinach, as we’ve discovered. It’s just a younger version of the flat leafed variety of spinach that has been harvested a few weeks after it’s been planted.
This is what gives it a small appearance, as it’s not grown to its full potential, so its small statue remains after being harvested.
As with many types of food, depending on their age they’ll look and taste much different.
Baby spinach has a slightly different taste and appearance than its older version, and the other types of spinach.
Let’s discuss these differences so that you can decide on what spinach will be the best choice for you.
Baby Spinach Vs Regular Spinach: Do They Look The Same?
As baby spinach is just a younger version of flat leafed spinach, they pretty much do look the same.
Both baby spinach and flat leafed spinach have long stems, round leaves with a bright, saturated green color all over.
The same can be said for the savoy variety and its younger counterpart. It’s not traditionally sold in stores, but you can find baby savoy spinach if you look hard enough! It will have the same bumpy, folded leaves as the adult savoy spinach does.
But if someone is talking about baby spinach, you can safely assume that more often than not, they’ll be talking about a young version of the smooth or flat leaf type spinach.
Baby Spinach Vs Spinach: Do They Have The Same Texture?
Baby spinach and spinach have a very distinctive texture, especially when you’re eating it.
Both of them contain water and something called oxalic acid, and combined with the other chemicals within the plant, a unique texture is formed when you take a bite.
If you’ve ever eaten baby spinach or regular spinach, you’ve probably noticed a bit of a squeak on your teeth.
Whilst this can put people off eating spinach completely, it’s a good indicator that you’re eating some good spinach!
You’ll also feel a dry and almost fuzzy feeling in your mouth whilst you’re eating it, this is just the chemicals in the spinach mixing with your saliva.
So don’t worry, it’s not an allergy, just a chemical reaction that is perfectly safe!
Baby Spinach Vs Spinach: Do They Taste The Same?
So if both baby spinach and regular spinach look the same and taste the same, why do farmers bother to harvest it early?
Well, it all lies in the different tastes of the two. Regular spinach will tend to have more of a mild, bitter and earthy flavor that you either love or hate.
But baby spinach is much sweeter in flavor, which is why many people will opt for this type of spinach over its older variety.
Since the plant is still young, the tannins in the leaf have not been fully developed yet.
This is what gives the plant its bitter and earthy flavor, so baby spinach will usually have less of a bitter taste and less of an earthy flavor.
So if you’re adamant that you hate spinach, try baby spinach out. It might be the bitter and earthy flavor that puts you off eating spinach.
Who knows, baby spinach may ignite your love for spinach. It goes great with anything, and it’s also really healthy, so there’s no reason not to try.
Are There Any Health Benefits Associated With Baby Spinach?
Like most plants, spinach is really healthy for you. Not only does it have a large vitamin and mineral content, but it also contains plenty of antioxidants.
It contains many nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, nitrates, and quercetin, which are all good for your overall health and wellbeing.
With all these vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to add spinach to a number of their dishes.
But it also provides a number of other health benefits too, such as:
The carotenoids in spinach, namely lutein and zeaxanthin, give the plant its vibrant green color.
But these carotenoids also help to keep your eyes healthy and reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Baby spinach is full of glucuronides and methylenedioxy flavonoids. These are both anti-inflammatories and do an excellent job of helping to prevent cancer.
Some studies have found that they can be effective in reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Baby spinach contains quite a bit of potassium, which is excellent in maintaining a healthy heart.
Many studies have linked potassium with low blood pressure and a reduced risk of having a stroke and developing heart disease.
As well as the potassium, there are also nitrates in baby spinach that are effective in helping you keep your blood pressure under control, which subsequently improves your heart health.
Reduced Risk Of Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the more common types of anemia. This is where you’re not getting enough iron, and without iron your blood can’t make hemoglobin.
Eating just 4 cups of raw baby spinach has about 15% of your recommended daily allowance of iron.
Eating baby spinach on a regular basis can go a long way in reducing your risk of developing anemia.
Immune System Health
The antioxidants in baby spinach like lutein, zeaxanthin, beta carotene, and chlorophyll can all boost your immune system, which helps your body to fight infections effectively and to stay healthier.
Baby spinach has an abundance of vitamin K and magnesium which are very important for bone health. 4 cups of baby spinach has almost 5 times your recommended allowance of vitamin K.
Vitamin K can lower your risk of bone fractures, and works with vitamin D to improve your bone density.
You may have heard that spinach is a great food to eat during pregnancy, since it contains quite a lot of folate, also known as folic acid.
Folic acid can help prevent spina bifida and anencephaly from developing in babies during the early stages of development.
Eating spinach during pregnancy is a great way to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
How To Prepare Baby Spinach
When you’re at the store looking to buy baby spinach, make sure to look for a bag that contains vibrant green leaves that have no yellowing.
You should be able to see a vibrant green color and the leaves should look fresh, rather than wilted or bruised.
Once you’ve opened the bag of baby spinach, make sure to place the leaves in a new bag that can be sealed or in a sealable container with paper towels to ensure that they remain fresh.
You can enjoy baby spinach raw or cooked. But just be warned that cooking baby spinach can get quite slimy and slippery, which doesn’t make for a nice texture, but if you’re fine with that then who cares!
There are countless ways that you can include baby spinach in your meals, but here are a few ways that you can prepare baby spinach if you’re stuck for ideas:
- Blending it with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese to make a pesto.
- Sauteing it in a bit of olive oil with onions and garlic.
- Incorporate it into your breakfast by adding it to your omelet.
- Mix it with apple slices, crumbled feta, walnuts, and a champagne vinaigrette for a nutritious salad.
- Add it to your favorite fruits and vegetables for a healthy green smoothie.
- Toss it into a vegetable soup.
- Making a spinach-artichoke dip.
- Making a homemade spanakopita.
There’s not a whole lot of difference between baby spinach and spinach being that baby spinach is just a younger version of flat leafed spinach, except for the taste.
Baby spinach tastes much sweeter than regular spinach and it provides a number of health benefits to those who eat it.
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