For years Spinach is known for being packed with several nutrients. A new European research has found that eating raw spinach in the form of a smoothie is the best way to obtain lutein which is an anti-oxidant. The research was carried out at the Linkoping University at Sweden and it looked at various ways of preparing spinach to maximize the amount of lutein available after cooking.
Lutein is an anti-oxidant and a natural fat-soluble pigment that is found in plants. There are high levels of the anti-oxidant, however, like many other nutrients, the levels of lutein are decreased on cooking. The researchers selected raw spinach as it has high levels of lutein and is one of the popular dark green vegetable.
In order to replicate, how it is prepared at home, the team, purchased baby spinach from a supermarket and fried, steamed or boiled it for up to 90 minutes and measured the levels of lutein at different levels. The findings of the study were published in the Food Chemistry journal and showed that heating times and cooking methods are important for retaining lutein. The longer spinach is boiled, the less lutein it retains. When it is fried at a high temperature a large amount of lutein is lost in just two minutes.
Study author, Lena Jinasson said, “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”. The research team also looked in to the effect of reheating spinach in a microwave as a part of a packed lunch which is a common practice. It was found that microwave heating had partly compensated for the previous cooking method.