Lutein is an antioxidant found abundantly in dark green vegetables. Earlier research shows that this natural fat-soluble pigment can fight inflammation in immune cells from people with coronary heart disease. In addition, lutein can be stored in immune cells. This means that it is possible to have a reserve of lutein within the body. From this, the current study's researchers sought to determine whether it is possible to bolster lutein levels in the blood by increasing the intake of lutein through foods.
The research team, who hailed from Linkoping University in Sweden, examined which method of preparation is the best way to obtain lutein in spinach -- a vegetable rich in this antioxidant and is consumed by many. The research team used preparation methods often used in home cooking, such as frying, steaming, or boiling – for up to 90 minutes. Then, they measured the lutein content at different times. They also compared the effects of various temperatures and heating times. In addition, they examined preparation methods in which spinach is consumed cold, such as in salads and smoothies.
The research team found that heat exposure affects the lutein content of spinach. The heating time is also important when boiling spinach. Spinach loses lutein when it's boiled, and loses more as it is boiled longer. The cooking method used is also important. Frying spinach at high temperature degrades a large fraction of lutein, even after only two minutes.
The researchers concluded that the best way to maximize the lutein content of spinach is by consuming it cold. It would even be better if it is added to smoothies because more lutein is released from the leaves when spinach is chopped into small pieces. Adding fat from organic dairy products to the smoothie would also help increase the solubility of lutein in the fluid. The findings of the study were published in the journal Food Chemistry.
Many people find it hard to eat enough vegetables for nutrition because they typically taste bitter. One of these veggies is spinach, which is rich in antioxidants and nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K1, folic acid, iron, and calcium. It is also a good source of B-vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. Fortunately, you can get the nutrients of spinach and mask its bitter taste at the same time by adding it to a smoothie. You can combine it with more pleasant and sweet-tasting fruits like mangoes, oranges, blueberries, and apples. (Related: 3 Spinach-Apple Smoothie Recipes – Strengthen Bones, Improve Vision, Combat Cancer & Inflammation.)
Adding spinach to smoothies increases your intake of carotenoids, which may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Spinach may also protect against other forms of cancer, such as ovarian, bladder, liver, and lung cancer because of its flavanoid, folate, tocopherol, and chlorophyllin compounds.
The nutrient content of spinach is also beneficial for bone health. Vitamin K prevents osteoclast activation, which breaks down bones, and promotes osteocalcin activity -- which anchors calcium molecules inside of bones. Spinach also contains calcium and magnesium, which are two essential bone-building minerals. It also contains other bone-building nutrients that strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis. Studies have also shown that spinach can strengthen the muscles and prevent cardiovascular diseases like hyperlipidemia, heart failure, and hypertension.
Find out how you can enjoy the nutritious goodness of spinach and other vegetables by going to Veggie.news.