You’ve bought a big bag of fresh spinach to make that one recipe, but what do you do with the remaining spinach? Make powder! Spinach powder is a versatile ingredient made from dehydrated and ground spinach leaves. It’s often used as a supplement due to its high concentration of nutrients, as a natural food coloring, or to add a nutritional boost to salads, soups, sauces, and smoothies. Spinach powder retains much of the nutrients found in fresh spinach, including vitamins A, C, E, K, B vitamins, minerals like iron and calcium, fiber, and plant compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin.
How to Make Spinach Powder at Home
- Start with fresh spinach: Select fresh, organic spinach leaves if possible to ensure the highest nutrient content.
- Clean the spinach: Wash the leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or insects.
- Blanching (Optional): You can blanch the spinach leaves by plunging them into boiling water for about 1 minute and then immediately placing them in an ice bath. This step is optional, but it helps to preserve the bright green color and some nutrients.
- Dehydrate the spinach: Spread the spinach leaves on a dehydrator tray. If you do not own a dehydrator, you can place them on a baking sheet and put them in an oven set to the lowest possible temperature, ideally not exceeding 150°F (65°C). You can also air-dry them if you live in a hot and dry climate, but it may take several days. The dehydration process may take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the method used.
- Grind the dried spinach: Once the spinach leaves are fully dried, they should be brittle and crumble easily. At this point, you can grind them into a fine powder using a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder.
- Store the powder: Place the spinach powder in an airtight container and store it in a cool, dry place. It should maintain its nutrient content for several months if stored properly.
Health Benefits of Spinach Powder in Slowing the Progress of Macular Degeneration
Spinach powder is rich in antioxidants, particularly lutein, and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to have protective effects on the eyes. Both lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the macula, a part of the retina that controls visual acuity.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition where the macula deteriorates, leading to blurred or distorted vision. Several studies have suggested that consuming foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of developing AMD and slow its progression in those who have the condition. These antioxidants are thought to protect the eyes from damage caused by blue light and oxidative stress, which can contribute to macular degeneration.
While spinach powder can provide these beneficial compounds, it's important to remember that it should be part of a balanced, varied diet and not relied upon as a sole source of nutrition or treatment. Always consult a healthcare professional or a dietitian before making significant changes to your diet or starting any new supplement regimen.