Spinach is a nutritious and economically important vegetable in our diet. But, many varieties contain high amounts of oxalate, a natural compound in the plant, that can lead to kidney stone formation.
Researchers have now identified eight spinach varieties with low oxalate levels. They analyzed the genetic code of 310 spinach varieties and identified six DNA markers that contribute to oxalate levels. Knowing the amount of oxalate concentrations in these varieties can help breeders reduce oxalate concentrations.
Spinach contains higher concentrations of oxalate than most crops, but it is an economically important vegetable crop worldwide and it’s considered healthful because of its high concentration of a number of key nutrients. Foods such as beets, rhubarb, strawberries, nuts, chocolate, tea, wheat bran, and almost all dry beans also are known to increase oxalate in the urine and may contribute to kidney stone formation.
Lots of conflicting information about eating healthy can leave anyone confused. So the American Heart Association is trying to help clear the confusion.
To start, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This is a common message from many health organizations and educators. Lean meats, low-fat and non-fat dairy, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds are also beneficial.
A healthy, clean diet can also include frozen, canned, and dried foods. Select low-sodium canned foods and fruits canned in water or 100% juice. Choose frozen and dried foods without added salt or sodium.
Some say to avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store. The truth is, many foods in the middle aisles can be a part of a healthy diet.
Most vegetables need to be blanched before freezing to inactivate enzymes and protect their quality. This is done by water or steam blanching. Can blanching be done in the microwave?
Using the microwave may produce poor results. Due to uneven heating, the microwave may not completely inactivate enzymes. This results in off flavors, poor texture and loss of color. The microwave does not save time or energy.
Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes the “Dirty Dozen” report of foods that test positive for pesticide residues.
While these foods may show pesticide residue is present, the risk is negligible. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tolerance levels for pesticide residues is protective of human health. Test results are at levels well below tolerances set by the EPA.
Drs. Carl Winter and Josh Katz of the Department of Food Science and Technology a the University of California-Davis are leading experts in the issue of pesticide residues.
In a peer-reviewed, scientific article in the prestigious Journal of Toxicology (2011) they state the following conclusions:
“Exposures to the most commonly detected pesticides on the twelve commodities pose negligible risks to consumers.”
“Substitution of organic forms of the twelve commodities for conventional forms does not result in any appreciable reduction of consumer risks.”
“The methods used by the environmental advocacy group to rank commodities with respect to (potential) pesticide risks lacks scientific credibility.“
The choices for vegetables just added a new member! Your local grocer may be offering Kalettes. What is this new vegetable?
It is a cross between kale and brussels sprouts. It looks like a little cabbage with heads that are loose and frilly, green-purple leaves. Kale and brussels sprouts are in the same family, Brassica Oleracea, along with cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. The goal was to create a versatile vegetable that is easy to prepare and attractive. Their flavor is said to be sweet and nutty.
Kalettes can be eaten raw or sautéed, roasted, or grilled.
Kalettes were created in Britain after a decade of research by Tozer Seeds using traditional hybridization techniques.