Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about spinach

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I’m way behind in my magazine reading. My latest strategy is to read them on my lunch break at work. It’s cutting into my Words With Friends time a little bit but it makes me feel more productive during that hour.

Today I was reading the October issue of Nutrition Action and came across a fascinating article about spinach. I’ve had people ask me before if there’s a nutrient difference between baby spinach and mature spinach. I never really had an informed answer so I always just told them to eat which ever they preferred. Well, according to Dr Lester, a plant physiologist (who knew there was such a profession??), baby spinach is nutritionally superior to mature spinach. Unfortunately, the article simply quotes him as saying it has “greater nutrient density”; it doesn’t state which nutrients are more plentiful and by how much. Still, it’s something.

The excitement doesn’t stop there! It turns out that spinach exposed to light actually has more nutrients than spinach stored in the dark. They found higher levels of folate, beta-carotene, vitamin K, lutein, and vitamin E in spinach that was exposed to 24 hours of grocery store lighting compared to spinach that was stored in the dark. Of course, the spinach exposed to the light did wilt faster than the spinach in the dark but it took 3 days of continuous light-exposure for that to occur. Lesson: don’t go straight to the back of the pile to get the freshest bag of spinach.

This also leads me to wonder what impact research like this might have on refrigerator design. Perhaps fridges of the future will have compartments with clear outer doors to allow the light in to improve the nutrient content of some foods. Another compartment would have a traditional opaque door to protect foods that are prone to photo-oxidation.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

2 thoughts on “Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about spinach

  1. Interesting. I’d like to know if the same might be true of other leafy greens. Also, is there a limit to the amount of greens like spinach one should consume, as it is high in oxalic acid?

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  2. Pingback: Dead alive: the future of vegetables | bite my words

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