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Recently I have been made aware of some controversy over the chemistry of spinach blocking the absorption of other crucial nutrients in our body.

According to Livestrong.com:

Like most other leafy green vegetables, spinach contains a natural substance called oxalate. Although it’s not harmful, the substance can prevent your body from absorbing calcium and iron. When oxalates and are eaten together with calcium or iron, the oxalate binds to the nutrients in the intestines. As a result, the calcium and iron cannot absorb into the bloodstream. Spinach is one of the only foods that contains all three substances. Unfortunately, most of this calcium and iron in spinach remain unabsorbed due to the oxalate. Cooking the spinach before consumption can help break down some of the oxalate, which encourages more nutrient absorption. However, avoid overcooking the spinach or using too much water while cooking, which causes the loss of essential nutrients.

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Upon further research, I found information actually contradicting the information I posted above.

This is a quote I found on rawfoodtalk.com, that is from Gabriel Cousin’s book, Conscious Eating, referred to as the “Bible of Vegetarians,” for both beginners and advanced students of health:

Organic oxalic acid, defined as that which occurs in nature in its raw form, can actually be beneficial to the system. Once foods containing oxalic acid are cooked, according to the dean of juice therapy and author of Raw Vegetable Juices, Dr. Norman Walker, the oxalic acid becomes dead and irritating substance to the system. He feels that in its cooked form it binds irreversibly with the calcium and prevents calcium absorption. An excess of cooked oxalic acid may also form oxalic acid crystals in the kidney. In the live organic form of oxalic acid, Dr. Walker claims oxalic acid stones and calcium blockage do not occur because the organic oxalic acid can be metabolized appropriately. according to Dr. Walker, oxalic acid in its raw form is one of the important minerals needed to maintain tone and peristalsis of the bowel.
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So I am not quite sure what is the right way to consume spinach, or if there is a right way? But due to the fact that I want to be the healthiest I can be (and because I am nourishing a growing baby in my belly) I want to absolutely sure I am getting enough calcium and iron in my diet – hence why I was adding spinach to my smoothies to begin with! However, if spinach not only cancels out its own iron content, but also the calcium in the (non-dairy) milk base I use, then its seems to be defeating its purpose [in a green smoothie]. What came to mind when I thought of an alternative to spinach? What better than Kale?! I think its time for a comeback!

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Kale is even better for you than spinach. Its loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, B6, copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. And according to the USDA, its oxalic acid content is .02g, compared to spinach’s generous .97g.

Despite not being able to stomach the stuff thus far during my pregnancy, I am determined to get this nutritious vegetable back into my diet!

I picked up a bunch of kale at Whole Foods and plan on using it this week for my smoothies. Wish me luck! I will keep you posted :)

And now off I go to fold laundry… which all of sudden became a whole lot more fun!

xoxo Jennifer

What are your thoughts on spinach and it’s controversy with oxalic acid?

What veggies do you detest?

What are your favorite ways to prepare Kale? 

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