From time to time I call the kitchen the “nutrition lab.” I give the kitchen this title because that’s exactly what it is. It is a place where we take one item (food) and change it into another item (a meal) to make it edible, and hopefully enjoyable. We can use the nutrition lab to manipulate the foods we eat in order to get the most out of them.
Popeye had it right when he said “spinach makes ya’ strong.” What he didn’t tell us, is how to prepare spinach to get the most nutrition out of it. Raw spinach is loaded with nutrients. It has plenty of iron, vitamin C, and fiber. It also contains high amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. However, if we consume spinach in its raw state, the minerals are not easily absorbed. They are bound to a compound called oxalic acid. When spinach is cooked, the minerals become unbound and thus available for us to absorb.
Eggs can be a great food to have as part of a complete diet. They have received some bad press over the years, attributed to their high cholesterol content. This has since been debunked by various scientific studies and deemed ‘pseudoscience’. Eggs contain high quality omega-3 fats in their yolk. In order to get the full value of these fats, eggs should be cooked at as low a temperature as possible. This is due to the fact that the omega-3 fats are very unstable and get destroyed when exposed to high heats. Therefore, in order from best to worst, eggs should be eaten soft-boiled, poached, hard-boiled, lightly fried, then scrambled. (Stay away from fried and scrambled eggs that have been prepared at high heat)
Nuts can be hard to digest for some people. If you are one of those people, you might want to consider soaking your nuts. Nuts are essentially the seeds of a plant and will only start growing (germinating) once they are watered. To prevent a seed from growing before it is planted, it has enzyme inhibitors. These are compounds that bind up the nutrients in the nut so they can’t be used for growth. But, once we soak the nut, these nutrients become more available to the nut and therefore more available to us when we eat them. Presto, a more digestible nut!
There you have it. Simple ways we can increase the nutrition of spinach, eggs, and nuts. With this information you can get the most out of every dollar spent on whole, nutritious food.
Have fun in the “nutrition lab”