AS FAR as healthy eating goes, spinach is in the top tier. But the next time you’re thinking of heating it up, maybe for a warm salad, just know that it doesn’t fully deserve that health halo.
As a leaf vegetable, spinach has a relatively high level of nitrates, particularly in the case of spinach grown in greenhouse conditions.
“Nitrates can be converted to nitrites through being reheated for long periods, and these can in turn become nitrosamines, with a potentially carcinogenic impact on our bodies,” says nutrition science author Dagmar von Cramm.
However, “if you warm the spinach briefly immediately before eating, then it is not really a problem,” says the German author.
She warns that the only time to really be careful is when feeding babies.
Spinach leftovers should not be left standing at room temperature and should go into the fridge as soon as possible.
When you’re ready to eat the leftovers, reheat them quickly, not for long periods.
Von Cramm has other advice. “Drink fruit juice or lemon water, or serve a side salad with lemon dressing or raw paprika,” she says, as vitamin C blocks the formation of the offending nitrosamines.
Spinach can simply be eaten raw, obviating any nitrosamine problem. The benefits include nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene. – DPA