Eating spinach uncooked is the healthiest way to eat the vegetable, a new study has advised.
According to the researchers, cooking the vegetables breaks down its antioxidants, while mixing it with yoghurt or milk (or eating in the form of a smoothie) helps to release lutein, a powerful nutrient.
Lutein is a natural fat-soluble pigment found in plants. Dark green vegetables contain particularly high levels.
The consumption of lutein helps lower the risk of heart attacks and prevents eye damage.
“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,” said Lena Jonasson, one of the researchers from Linköping University.
“We have also investigated methods of preparation in which the spinach is eaten cold, such as in salads and smoothies.”
Rosanna Chung, principal author of the study, said the “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.”
The findings were published in the journal Food Chemistry.
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