We have been taught about the benefits of spinach since we were children. It is a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin K, folic acid....and the list goes on.
But did you know that raw spinach is also very rich in oxalates, a constituent of kidney stones? Having raw spinach in smoothies can therefore not only put you at risk of kidney stones, but large amounts consumed over long periods of time can even result in kidney failure!
On the other hand, cooking reduces the amount of oxalates, but can also kill a lot of nutrients (especially Indian cooking). So what can we do to continue to extract the benefits of spinach without exposing ourselves to the harmful effects of oxalates?
Steaming your spinach before consuming it reduces the amount of oxalates while still providing us with all the other nutrients in fair quantities.
Just pop a bundle of spinach in a pan, cover it with a lid, turn the gas on medium flame for 5 to 7 minutes and switch the gas off with the lid on. If you have a glass lid you will be able to see the leaves colour change and its easier to figure when your spinach is ready.
As you can see, the leaves become a dense green and shrink to almost one-fifth the size. Be careful not to overdo it or you will end up losing nutrients.
Now remember, that the oxalates that we want to remove are in the water (since they are water soluble). So, carefully tilt the pan, let the water accumulate on the side and discard it.
And here is your bowl of spinach! Cooked food is best consumed fresh. However, if your schedule doesn't allow you to steam a bit of spinach often, steam a bundle and refrigerate and consume a tablespoon or two everyday. You can add it to your daal, salad, smoothie or just simply pop a spoonful in your mouth.
But if you are someone who loves raw green leaves, another option is to replace your spinach with kale which is much much lower in oxalate content.
So, all you Green Smoothie lovers....think twice before you pop that raw spinach in your mixer!