There’s an informal assumption that spinach and other leafy greens lose nutrients the longer they sit on grocery store shelves. But it’s actually backwards. A plant physiologist in Texas says supermarket lighting actually boosts the vitamin content in your salad fixings.
Photo by quinn.anya.
Dr Gene Lester was grocery shopping when he got to wondering what effect continuous store lighting has on the vitamins in produce like lettuce and spinach.
So he devised an experiment back in his lab, exposing two varieties of spinach, flat- and crinkle-leaf, to simulated supermarket conditions – stored in clear sealed plastic at 39 degrees Fahrenheit under continuous fluorescent light – for up to nine days. Then he tested the leaves for their vitamin content, comparing the results with spinach that had been kept in darkness. As he and several colleagues report in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, leaves exposed to light had higher levels of all the vitamins except some from the vitamin A family.
It turns out store lighting triggers photosynthesis in leafy greens, boosting its nutritional content even after harvesting. The takeaway message is that storing produce in a dark refrigerator once we get it home may keep it from wilting, but the trade-off may be lower nutritional value.
How do you store your green veggies? Share your tips in the comments.
Greens Get a Boost Under the Glow of the Supermarket [The New York Times]