The Healthiest Way To Eat Your Spinach
Spinach is a superfood, known to contain loads of nutrients in a low-calorie package. These dark, leafy greens are important for skin, hair and bone health, while also providing essentials like protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. However, taking advantage of all these nutrients is not possible, as much of these get lost in the cooking process. Recently, researchers from the Linköping University (Sweden) undertook the challenge of finding the best way to harness the antioxidant lutein from spinach and found that a smoothie or a juice is the best way to do so.  
 
Lutein is a natural fat-soluble pigment found in plants, particularly in dark green vegetables. In an earlier study, these researchers had studied the role of lutein and discovered that it dampens inflammation in immune cells from patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). They also showed that lutein can be stored in immune cells; this means that it is possible to build up a reserve of lutein within your body. This led the researchers to wonder whether it is possible to influence the level of lutein in the blood by increasing its dietary intake. 
 
In the latest study, the researchers have investigated which method of ingestion is the best way of obtaining lutein. Spinach was chosen for the fact that it contains comparatively high levels of lutein and is commonly eaten by many people. In the process of cooking, nutrients are lost; also, lutein degrades with the application of heat. “What is unique about this study is that we have used preparation methods that are often used when cooking food at home, and we have compared several temperatures and heating times. We have also investigated methods of preparation in which the spinach is eaten cold, such as in salads and smoothies.” says Prof Lena Jonasson, from the department of medical and health sciences at Linköping University who is also a consultant in cardiology.
 
The research team purchased baby spinach at a supermarket, to simulate methods of preparation that are often used in everyday life. They then subjected this spinach to methods such as frying, steaming or boiling for up to 90 minutes and measured the lutein content at different times. The team decided to compare different heating times in the lab as the spinach may be heated to varying temperatures depending on the type of meal being prepared. 
 
The results indicated that heating time is critical when spinach is boiled; the longer it is boiled, the lesser lutein it retains. Similarly, the cooking method is also important - spinach fried at high temperatures loses a large fraction of the lutein after only two minutes. A very common practice in modern life is to reheat lunch boxes in a microwave oven. Researchers found that this reheating in a microwave explains, to some extent, the loss of lutein in cooked food. They explain that more lutein is released from the spinach as the plant structure is broken down further by the microwave. 
 
“Best is not to heat the spinach at all. And even better is to make a smoothie and add fat from dairy products, such as cream, milk or yoghurt. When the spinach is chopped into small pieces, more lutein is released from the leaves, and the fat increases the solubility of the lutein in the fluid,” says Dr Rosanna Chung the lead author of the study. 
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    COMMENTS

    Pinaki gupta

    8 months ago

    Thanks for the nice article, however how to get rid of the pesticides that are used in growing these green leafy vegetables ? Not heating the spinach at all - will it be safe to adopt this practice in India ?

    REPLY

    D

    In Reply to Pinaki gupta 8 months ago

    To detoxify baking soda treatment may be useful.
    Regards

    Nirmala Athalye

    8 months ago

    .

    Changes in Diet May Help Ease Symptoms of Auto-immune Diseases
    People afflicted by an auto-immune disease have their body’s immune system turned against them; the disease makes the normally guarding ‘defence’ cells mistakenly attack the body. There are numerous auto-immune diseases that have been discovered and classified; however, the reasons and cure for these diseases are not, yet, clear. Now, new research has uncovered how a dietary intervention could help prevent the development of the auto-immune disease, lupus.
     
    Using the mouse models of lupus, the team from Yale University set out to test the role of diet and the microbiota and then dissect its mechanisms, as the role of commensal bacteria in auto-immunity remains unclear. “We dissected, molecularly, how diets work on the gut microbiome,” said senior author Dr Martin Kriegel, associate professor adjunct in the department of immunobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine. “We identified a pathway that is driving auto-immune disease and mitigated by the diet.”
     
    The study, published in the science journal Cell Host & Microbe, reveals how the team first identified the bacterium, Lactobacillus reuteri, in the gut of the mice as the one that triggered an immune response leading to the disease. In lupus-prone mice, L. reuteri stimulated immune cells known as dendritic cells, as well as immune system pathways that exacerbated disease development. To investigate the potential impact of diet on the presence of this bacteria in the mice, lead author Daniel Zegarra-Ruiz, a graduate student in the lab, fed the mice ‘resistant starch’—a diet that mimics a high-fibre diet in humans. 
     
    Foods that are high in resistant starch are rice, whole grains, such as oats and barley, beans, peas and lentils. The resistant starch is not absorbed in the small intestine but ferments in the large intestine, enriching good bacteria and causing the secretion of short-chain fatty acids. This helps in suppressing both, the growth and movement, of L. reuteri bacteria outside the gut that would, otherwise, lead to auto-immune disease. 
     
    This study details an important link between diet, gut bacteria and auto-immunity. The researchers feel that more studies would be required to discern how the findings might apply to humans. This study is also important because it found an imbalance of gut microbes in a sub-set of lupus patients that was similar to what they observed in lupus-prone mice not given the starch diet. In this sub-set of lupus patients, a high-fibre diet could potentially be beneficial in preventing or alleviating the condition and other diseases that activate the same immune pathway can benefit.
     
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    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Poapt

    8 months ago

    a good one!

    Fighting Obesity Is ‘Dirt’ Cheap Finds New Study
    The fight against obesity is costing the global economy an estimated US$2 trillion annually and has been dubbed a modern health epidemic. However, new research has uncovered a possible cure for obesity that is, literally, as plain as dirt. 
     
    While investigating how drug delivery in our bodies can be improved using clay materials, Tahnee Dening, a researcher and PhD candidate from the University of South Australia, accidentally discovered that the clay materials she was using had a unique ability to ‘soak up’ fat droplets in our gut. This accidental discovery could potentially be a cure for obesity. 
     
    Explaining her discovery Ms Dening says. “I was investigating the capacity of specifically clay materials to improve the oral delivery and absorption of antipsychotic drugs, when I noticed that the clay particles weren’t behaving as I’d expected. Instead of breaking down to release drugs, the clay materials were attracting fat droplets and literally soaking them up. Not only were the clay materials trapping the fats within their particle structure, but they were also preventing them from being absorbed by the body, ensuring that fat simply passed through the digestive system.”
     
    An overweight person is more likely to be affected with serious health conditions such as cardio-vascular disease, type-2 diabetes and some cancers. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, obesity is increasing; almost two in three adults, and one in four children, are now overweight or obese. If this continues, nearly half the world’s population will be overweight or obese by 2030. There are very few effective drugs today that help in counteracting obesity and many companies are investing huge amounts of money to discover and develop alternative treatments for obesity. 
     
    Ms Dening’s research investigated the effects of montmorillonite—a natural clay material, purified from dirt and laponite - a synthetic clay, in rats fed on a high-fat diet, comparing against a placebo and a leading weight-loss drug, Orlistat. Over a two-week period, she found that while both the engineered clay formulations and Orlistat delivered weight-loss effects, the clay material outperformed the drug.
     
    Ms Denning says the finding offers new insights for obesity and weight management, particularly when used in combination with the commercial drug where there is potential for synergy. “Our processed clay has an unusually high surface area which means it has a huge capacity to interact with and soak up digested fats and oils present in the foods we eat,” she says. “Orlistat on the other hand, is an enzyme inhibitor that blocks up to 30 percent of dietary fat digestion and absorption, which leads to weight loss, but has unpleasant side effects such as stomach aches, bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea, which limits its use in weight loss as people choose to stop using it.”
     
    This led her to consider researching a synergistic approach with both the clay material and Orlistat; the drug blocks the enzyme that digests fat molecules and the clay particles trap these fats so they’re excreted out of the body without causing gastro-intestinal disturbances. She explained, “We’re essentially attacking fat digestion and absorption in two different ways and we hope this will lead to greater weight loss with fewer side-effects.”
     
    University of South Australia’s professor Clive Prestidge, and Ms Denning’s research supervisor, says the research has already captured the attention of potential investors. “This is a significant discovery that provides new and exciting avenues for weight loss research which naturally attracts potential commercial partners,” Prof Prestidge says. “With a finding like this, people will naturally be keen to find out when they can try it. Given that the material is generally considered safe and is widely used in food and nutraceutical products, it is feasible that human clinical trials could start reasonably soon.”
     
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