Spinach can be found all year round, fresh, frozen or even canned. The nutritional content, however, varies according to the method of consumption. In this article we want to explain why eating raw spinach is so much better, mentioning the main benefits.
Features of spinach to know
Like many other vegetables, spinach is rich in vitamins, minerals and valuable phytochemicals. One of these is lutein, a pigment found in most green leafy vegetables. It is an antioxidant, works with the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Other characteristics of spinach are:
- They are mostly composed of water.
- They contain few carbohydrates, but a lot of protein.
- They are rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as being a good source of omega 3 fatty acids.
- They contain mineral salts such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.
- They contain vitamins A, C, E, K and vitamins of group B (including folic acid).
Why eat raw spinach?
Researchers from the University of Linköping in Sweden have shown that lutein is particularly beneficial for the cardiovascular system because it protects the health of the arteries.
Lutein, however, breaks down with heat; therefore by cooking them, they lose most of their properties. For this reason, if you want to enjoy their protective action on the cardiovascular system, you will have to eat raw spinach.
The Swedish researchers calculated how much lutein available is reduced through different cooking methods: boiled, steamed, or stir-fried.
The highest amounts of lutein were found in raw spinach-based smoothies, especially those made with milk (which can be replaced by plant-based milk). Cooked spinach had a lower amount of lutein, especially when cooked longer.
Why eat raw spinach: other reasons
Eating raw spinach is a good way to ensure their high vitamin C content. They also have fewer calories than when cooked and appear to retain folate better, which is largely lost during cooking.
Another advantage of consuming them raw has to do with palatability, since the crunchiness of the leaf is maintained, pleasant in salads or in garnishes.
Benefits of spinach
1. They protect the brain
Some elements present in spinach, such as potassium, folate and other antioxidants, offer neurological benefits when consumed regularly.
According to neurology studies, folate prevents Alzheimer’s disease. This explains why spinach is recommended for people at high risk for cognitive or neuronal impairment.
2. They regulate blood pressure
Spinach is high in potassium and low in sodium. This relationship between the two is positive for those suffering from high blood pressure. Potassium, in fact, helps to balance the pressure while sodium increases it.
3. They help fight some cancers
Spinach contains several elements that appear to be promising in the treatment and prevention of some cancers. Substances such as folates, tocopherol and chlorophyllin intervene in various mechanisms useful to counter this disease.
4. Strengthen the bones
Spinach is a good source of vitamin K, which acts on the retention of calcium in the bone matrix, a function that governs bone mineralization. Other minerals found in this vegetable, including manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus help form stronger bones.
Therefore, the consumption of spinach helps prevent osteoporosis and protects the health of the teeth and nails.
5. Strengthen the muscles
An antioxidant found in spinach, coenzyme Q10, plays an important role in muscle health. It particularly strengthens the muscles of the heart, helping it to pump blood.
Finally, we must remember that spinach, due to the tendency to form oxalates, must be avoided by those suffering from arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and renal colic. If you do not fall into these categories, however, you can consume them regularly without problems.