How can I digest cooked spinach

Can you reheat spinach?

Whether fresh or frozen, with or without bubbling, reheating does not create any additional toxins in the already cooked spinach. It is possible that these are already there if the leftover spinach has been waiting to be eaten for some time. Whereby for the question "Toxic or not?" The decisive factor is how the green delicacy has been stored in the meantime - and who is consuming it. If the leftover spinach is quickly cooled, covered and stored for no longer than two days, there is nothing to prevent it from being reheated later. However: This type of leftover recycling is only harmless for adults. Infants should not be given rewarmed spinach - the nitrite it may contain can, in the worst case, cause them to suffer from a life-threatening lack of oxygen.

But how does the unpleasant nitrite get in spinach of all things? It gradually arises from nitrate, which is inherently harmless to health and which spinach naturally contains. On the one hand, nitrite can impair the oxygen content in the blood; on the other hand, in connection with certain protein degradation products, it forms nitrosamines, which under certain circumstances can cause cancer.

The conversion of nitrate into nitrite requires special bacteria that are found in the mouth, stomach and, above all, in spinach itself. If you keep spinach unrefrigerated, for example at room temperature, these bacteria feel right at home, multiply and begin their business of converting nitrate into nitrite. After just two days of storage at room temperature, around 400 milligrams per kilo of spinach can be produced. If you keep the spinach refrigerated, bacteria and with them the formation of nitrite are frozen.

Why is nitrite poisonous?

Nitrite can cause a lack of oxygen in our body because it reacts with hemoglobin - contained in the red blood cells that are responsible for transporting oxygen - to methemoglobin, which in turn does not transport oxygen. A certain amount of methemoglobin in the blood is normal and has no consequences. To keep it at a safe low level, we have a protective mechanism: an endogenous enzyme called methemoglobin reductase. It converts methemoglobin back into hemoglobin.

Newborns and infants lack this protection because the enzyme is only partially available in the first six months of life. In babies, even small amounts of nitrite, which warmed spinach may contain, can cause life-threatening lack of oxygen. A noticeable symptom of the so-called methaemoglobinemia is cyanosis, blue rash, in which the skin appears purple to bluish. If you take blood, it is chocolate brown instead of red due to the high proportion of methemoglobin. The lack of oxygen often causes dizziness, nausea, headache, shortness of breath, drowsiness and accelerates the heartbeat.

If you play it safe with your offspring and still do not want to forego the benefits of healthy vegetables, you can feed baby food containing spinach without hesitation. Because it meets strict guidelines for nitrate and nitrite. Even small children can be sensitive to nitrate or nitrite. As a precaution, children under three should only be served freshly prepared spinach or spinach from a jar, advises the Stiftung Warenstiftung.