Among the world's healthiest vegetables, spinach is a nutrition superstar - rich in vitamins and minerals as well as concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection. Choose leaves that are crisp and have dark green with a nice fresh fragrance. Avoid those that are limp, damaged, or spotted. One pound of fresh spinach leaves will cook down to about 1 cup cooked spinach. Like all greens, spinach should be washed and it can be very gritty, so it must be thoroughly rinsed. It grows in sandy soils and typically the sand remains on the leaves.