Palak paneer – the name of the dish itself brings water to our mouths, doesn’t it? It’s a celebrated North Indian delicacy. Paneer (or cottage cheese) in a savoury Palak (or spinach) curry is enjoyed by us – both at home and at restaurants and marriages alike. Parents love to watch the children wipe their plates off clean – making fussy eaters eat their greens couldn’t be easier !! But wait for a second …. Is the ’greens’ you’re eating lip-smackingly actually benefiting your body?
Why are spinach and cottage cheese good for you?
Popeye wasn’t joking when he said that spinach is good for you. Although eating spinach won’t make your biceps larger. It does provide a low calorie, high fibre source of vitamins and minerals. With only 7 calories per cup of raw spinach and 41 calories per cup of cooked spinach. It’s an excellent choice for the diet conscious. It’s a rich source of vitamins K, A, B10 ( folic acid ), E and C. As for the minerals, it is one of the best sources of non-haem iron ( iron from vegetarian sources is non-haem bound ). It also provides potassium, magnesium and some amount of calcium too.
It also has plenty of antioxidants.
Paneer or cottage cheese has its own benefits too. As opposed to spinach, paneer is a high-calorie food. It’s protein-rich – one of the best sources of protein for those on vegetarian diets. It has all the essential amino acids required by the body. It has less of carbohydrates but more of fats – the saturated fatty acids as well as the healthy MUFA and PUFA ( mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids ). As it’s a milk product, it’s rich in calcium and phosphorus – good for your bones and teeth. It’s also a source of vitamin B12( mostly deficient in vegetarians ) and B10.
So considering the nutritional storehouse that each of these food items is. Combining them should make the perfect recipe for a nutritional meal for the family right?
But that’s where you’re wrong about palak paneer
Eating cottage cheese and spinach doesn’t allow you to take advantage of all the nutrients that are present in each of them.
Spinach is rich in oxalates – a substance that binds to calcium present in the meal and doesn’t let it get absorbed into the body.
Moreover, the calcium present in the paneer inhibits the transporter responsible for the absorption of non-haem iron present in the spinach.
So eating both of these highly nutritious food in the same meal is never a good idea, however tasty it might be. Cook spinach and cottage cheese separately and have it as part of different meals to obtain the nutrition to its full extent.
Knowing how to eat something is equally important as what to eat.
Considering the Indian scenario , where iron deficiency anaemia( less haemoglobin in blood ) and osteoporosis( less calcium in bones leading to recurrent fractures ) is rampant among women , it’s very important to know how to get the best possible nutrition from our food with minimal wastage .
MBBS Student, Maulana Azad Medical College
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