Q: I put spinach in a lot of things, I like to eat it with my greens, I also love it on my subs. I reheated it all the time but was recently told it is very unhealthy for me to do that. Is it safe for me to reheat spinach?
A: It is generally advised that you do not reheat spinach as it creates a compound that your stomach is unable to digest. In young children under six months, it should be avoided entirely.
When spinach is heated, stored, then reheated, bacteria that is present will convert enzymes into a toxic protein. Our blood carries oxygen all around our body, and it does so with proteins. However, the protein created by spinach is called methaemoglobin, and it does not carry oxygen. That means your muscles, organs, heart and brain are not getting as much oxygen as they may need. Obviously this is something that should be avoided at all costs.
In adults, this is not as prevalent as it is in young children. Children exposed to this protein often develop “Blue Baby Syndrome” which is indicated when the lips turn blue from lack of oxygen. As adults, we can tolerate more of this protein without adverse effects but should be avoided in large quantities.
As much as we love to eat our reheated greens, or not give it a second thought when we pop our sub into the microwave, we need to be more cautious about what we heat up! While it may not kill you, it is not advised to eat reheated spinach.