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How can nutrients in spinach be optimally protected during preparation?
Can the positive effects of vegetables be enhanced when used in a smoothie? Swedish researchers have now found that spinach unfolds its nutrients even better when the vegetables are processed into a smoothie.
In their current study, the Linköping University scientists found that processing spinach into a smoothie enables the highest absorption of the nutrient lutein. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Food Chemistry".
What is lutein?
When spinach is made into a smoothie, the absorption of the nutrient lutein contained is maximized. Lutein is a so-called antioxidant, which has been linked to reducing inflammation, aging of the brain, increasing intelligence and preserving eyesight. Lutein must be obtained from food, especially green leafy vegetables, but is broken down when heated. The team at the Linköping University has therefore set itself the goal of determining the best method for preserving lutein. The experts selected spinach for their experiments. Spinach contains a lot of lutein and is basically available everywhere.
Which preparation method is optimal for lutein?
The researchers acquired baby spinach from a local supermarket and subjected the spinach to the usual cooking techniques: cooking, roasting, steaming, microwave heating, as well as cold preparation methods such as salads or smoothies. The unique thing about this study is that preparation methods were used, which are often used in the preparation of dishes at home. Different temperatures and times of warming were also compared, says study author Lena Jonasson from Linköping University.
Why does a smoothie maximize lutein intake?
As expected, heat proved problematic for the lutein. The longer the spinach was cooked, the less nutrient remained. When the spinach was fried, it destroyed much of the lutein in just two minutes. In the best case, spinach should not be heated at all, so most lutein remains, the researchers report. This also explains why a smoothie is the best method of preparation. If the spinach is cut into small pieces, the lutein in the spinach will also be released better. Fat from added milk or yoghurt additionally increases the solubility of this lutein, the scientists add. (as)