Have you ever wondered about Popeye and spinach?


In the late 1920s Elzie Segar created the character Popeye, who possessed superhuman strength that came from eating cans of spinach. It is widely reported that Popeye's fondness for spinach comes from a mathematical error made back in the 1870s.

A German scientist, Erich von Wolf, was researching the iron content of leafy green vegetables when he apparently made a simple accounting error which elevated the humble spinach to superfood status. A decimal point was incorrectly placed to give 100g of spinach an iron content of 35mg instead of 3.5mg.

It's always been thought that Segar chose spinach because of this error, but in a 1932 comic the true reason spinach was chosen was revealed:  

"Spinach is full of vitamin 'A' an' tha's what makes hoomans strong an' helty"


Whilst the iron in spinach isn't easily used by our bodies, it does contain a large amount of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for many functions, including vision, immunity and reproduction. Spinach is also high in many other nutrients, including vitamin K, potassium, magnesium and folate.

Regardless of whether spinach is the victim of an urban myth or an accounting error, it is really good for us and we could probably all do with eating a little more of it.