Is it alright to eat spinach and kale raw? Here's what you should know

Both spinach and kale are available in different colours. Photo: Shutterstock

Spinach and kale are two green leafy vegetables that add the perfect crunch and taste to your salad bowl. Loaded with all the essential nutrients, these contain antioxidants, fibres, vitamin C and calcium. Moreover, spinach and kale are available in many colours too. However, nutritionists warn that eating them raw may not be as healthy. Noted nutritionists say that when eaten raw, the oxalic acid in spinach and kale binds with the calcium and other minerals in the body to reduce its absorption in the intestines. Moreover, this disrupts the absorption process of calcium and many other significant nutrients.

Consuming such leafy greens raw may also cause kidney stones, inflammatory bowel syndrome, gas and bloating in some people. It may even be harmful for those who suffer from joint pain and inflammation. Vitamin K in spinach and kale may not be suitable for those who are taking anticoagulants or blood thinners as well.

Why is it better to cook them?
Cooking destroys the bacteria in them and makes these veggies fit for consumption without any above-mentioned problems. Moreover, cooked spinach and kale help the body absorb the nutrients well. Both veggies are also high in oxalates, a compound that can interfere with the absorption of iron and calcium. Cooking will reduce the oxalate content. While these can be the reasons from a 'health' perspective, those worried about taste and flavour will find that cooking always makes kale and spinach more palatable, reducing their bitterness and bringing out their sweetness. Cooked veggies can be made into a variety of dishes as well, as compared to their raw versions.

The correct way to cook them
To make sure that you don't lose too much of their nutrients by cooking, opt for methods like sauteing, steaming and blanching, so that they don't get overcooked and lose their vitamins B and C, along with heat-sensitive phytonutrients. Some food enthusiasts also go for microwaving the veggies with minimal water to retain the nutrients. 

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