Rare Spinach Varieties - The evergreen heroes

Right from being inspired by the legendary cartoon character Popeye’s love for spinach to our mother’s long lecture on its innumerable benefits for our health we would have, of course, encountered this evergreen wonder at many junctions of our life. But, do we know that there are innumerable cousins to the most well known variety of Spinach, namely Indian spinach or Palak, whose existence are known only to a few sections of the world? This article gives a quick peek into a few of these rare evergreen heroes and the integral role which they can play on our health!
August tree leaves: This type of spinach variety is most popular amongst the people of Tamil Nadu which they fondly call by the name Agathi keerai. 
Health benefits: The benefits of this type of spinach are mind blowing when you get to know them. Let me mention a few:
Helps the new mother:
Being a power house of nutrients it is highly beneficial for the lactating mothers. Consuming these leaves is a natural way to increase the breast milk! Why not resort to these fresh greens than to run behind artificial methods to make your little one’s tummy full?
Your stomach will simply adore them:
 Mention a stomach problem and the august leaves have a solution for it. Be it constipation, dysentery, gastric problems, removal of worms from your tummy, heart burns or bloating problems you can safely turn to this kind of spinach variety for help.
Treats eye problems:
Being rich in vitamin A, august leaves have high healing powers in curing vision related problems. It is not only effective in keeping the various eye infections at bay but it also contributes to stronger vision.
Some interesting facts:
·        As the leaves have a striking resemblance to a small bird sitting on the tree they are also called as the humming bird tree leaves.
·        These leaves are often consumed during the new moon day, an important day for fasting. Want to know the reason? Well! Fasting rises the body temperature and these leaves have a nice cooling effect on our system.
How to select:
Fresh green leaves are to be chosen over the dried leaves which are about to fall from the stem to get their maximum benefits.
A simple recipe with Agathi keerai:
After removing the leaves from the stem they should be cooked on an oil coated pan with a little salt added to it. After it is fully cooked which will take about 10 minutes or so, freshly shredded coconut should be added. This dish can be served with steaming rice.
Sorrel leaves: Most popular amongst the people of Andra Pradesh, they are fondly called by the name Gongura by the people of this region.
Health Benefits: The list of health benefits of sorrel leaves will seem to be long and never-ending, few of which are listed below:
Helps to shed those extra pounds:
Being packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates, they have a negligible amount of calories and fat which is essential for shedding weight. If you are struggling to reach your weight loss goals why not add this kind of spinach to your daily diet?
Gives an excellent fight to breast cancer:
Being rich in oxalic acid, carotenoids, chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals, it is armed with all the necessary qualities to fight all types of cancer especially the breast cancer. But a word of caution! Too much of its intake may prove to be dangerous.
Maintains optimal levels of blood pressure:
Why not turn to sorrel leaves for keeping the blood pressure under control than to resort to loads of pills? Packed with antioxidants, it takes care to maintain the optimal levels of blood pressure there by reducing the bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
How to select? Look for fresh green leaves of Gongura without any discoloration, that is, do not select the greens which are yellow or brown. Go in for smaller leaves as they will have a mild flavor.
A simple recipe with Gongura- Gongura chutney
First, stir fry the leaves with a little amount of oil till they get wilted. Next, in a separate pan tamper with cumin seeds, 3-4 red chilies, garlic and urad dhal. Blend this with the cooled-down gongura leaves with a little amount of salt and tamarind. Your chutney is ready to be served with rice. 
False Daisy:  Found in Thailand, China, India and Brazil this type of greens is called Manjal karisalai keerai in tamil, Kannunni in Malayalam and Bhringraj in Hindi.
Health Benefits: Being extensively used as a traditional ingredient in Chinese medicines the health benefits of this kind of spinach are innumerable. Let us see a few of them.
Fights Diabetes:
Lowering sugar levels is an important quality of false daisy. Adding 1 teaspoon of honey to the decoction of false daisy leaves is effective in maintaining the sugar levels.
Cures Anemia:
 With high iron content, this is a sure cure for anemic patients. Steaming these leaves with a little amount of pepper and adding it to your diet will increase the production of RBCs in the body.
Combats Abortions and miscarriages:
With the advice of experts, this spinach can be safely added to your diet during pregnancy. It also regulates the heavy blood flow during menopause.

Spinach, with all its cousins, is a sure shot hit in combating the various forms of today’s illness. Gaining the knowledge of the various varieties and how to incorporate them in our diet can go a long way in improving our lifestyle. The stories of the fictional character Popeye gaining immense strength by eating the greens can also be applicable to us if we start to develop a liking for these evergreen heroes!