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Biology

Should I be having spinach in my smoothie?

I get spinach to use in salads, but I don’t often use enough to use it all up. In an attempt to reduce food waste I started adding the spinach to my smoothie in the morning. But then I fell down the internet rabbit hole of health advice. The number of different messages about raw spinach is insane so I turned to the research.

The issue with raw spinach is oxalate. Oxalate will bind to calcium and prevent your body from absorbing it. And if you’re prone to kidney stones, oxalate is not a good plan as it can increase the likelihood of developing the stones. The thing is, spinach isn’t the only offender. Berries, chocolate, coffee, cranberries, oranges… The list goes on. They all have noticeable oxalate levels.

So is there anything we can do? Consuming spinach in combination with calcium rich food means that the oxalate will bond with that calcium which makes it unavailable to the body. Another possibility is steaming or boiling the spinach. This will leech out the oxalate so that there is less when you eat it.

I’m not a big fan of looking at individual components of food. That’s not the way food is meant to be eaten. I’m never going to go grab a handful of spinach as a snack. And I get a lot of calcium in my diet. But if you’re prone to kidney stones, your doctor may advise you to skip the high oxalate foods.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.

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