Eating Spinach The Right Way
Eat your spinach in the form of a smoothie or juice — this is the best way to obtain the antioxidant lutein, according to research from Linköping University, Sweden. High levels of lutein are found in dark green vegetables, and researchers at the university have compared different ways of preparing fresh spinach in order to maximize the levels of lutein in finished food. The findings are published in the journal Food Chemistry.
A research group at Linköping University previously studied the role of the antioxidant lutein. This is a natural fat-soluble pigment found in plants, particularly in dark green vegetables. The researchers showed in their last study that lutein can dampen inflammation in immune cells from patients with coronary artery disease. They also showed that lutein can be stored in immune cells, which means it is possible to build up a reserve of lutein within your body. This led the researchers to wonder whether it is possible to influence the level of lutein in the blood by increasing lutein dietary intake.
“What is unique about this study is that we have used preparation methods that are often used when cooking food at home, and we have compared several temperatures and heating times. We have also investigated methods of preparation in which the spinach is eaten cold, such as in salads and smoothies,” says Lena Jonasson, professor in the Department of Medical and Health Sciences and consultant in cardiology.
“Best is not to heat the spinach at all. And even better is to make a smoothie and add fat from dairy products, such as cream, milk or yoghurt. When the spinach is chopped into small pieces, more lutein is released from the leaves, and the fat increases the solubility of the lutein in the fluid,” says postdoc Rosanna Chung, principal author of the article.