What You May Not Know about Your Green Smoothie

Do you use spinach in your green smoothies? I do.

Of course, spinach is healthful. But here’s what you may not know: Two of spinach’s most valuable nutrientscalcium and iron — cannot be absorbed by your body. What???

Yes, it’s true. Here’s how Livestrong describes the spinach-calcium-absorption situation:

Like most other leafy green vegetables, spinach contains a natural substance called oxalate. Although it’s not harmful, the substance can prevent your body from absorbing calcium and iron. When oxalates and are eaten together with calcium or iron, the oxalate binds to the nutrients in the intestines. As a result, the calcium and iron cannot absorb into the bloodstream. Spinach is one of the only foods that contains all three substances. Unfortunately, most of this calcium and iron in spinach remain unabsorbed due to the oxalate.

Seems like a waste of good greens, right? But before you hang your head and brace yourself for kale smoothies from here on out, there’s a solution.

Consuming spinach in conjunction with certain other foods “releases” the calcium and iron so that your body can absorb it:

When eating spinach, add a dose of vitamin C to your meal. Vitamin C blocks the oxalate from binding to the calcium, therefore encouraging calcium and iron absorption into the bloodstream. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends eating spinach with tomatoes, citrus fruits or orange juice. 

I’ve been playing around with different made-up recipes since we got our Vitamix. Here’s a recipe for our current favorite green smoothie that allows spinach to shine to its full nutrient-laden potential:

  • Pineapple — use about a third to a quarter can of diced pineapple and include some of the juice
  • Spinach — most of the smoothie should be spinach
  • Banana — great for adding creaminess
  • Almond milk — fewer calories than milk, plus added benefits
  • Flax seed — whole (more on this later)
  • Ice 

It’s so good. I can veritably feel the healthiness coursing through my veins when I drink it. 😉 What’s your go-to green smoothie recipe?

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