Light affects nutrients

This article was originally published in March 2012

So you think you’re getting the most nutritious, best produce by reaching to the back of the produce shelves, or by digging to the bottom of a pile on the dry racks? Think again.

A study by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists suggests consumers may wish to look instead for fruits and vegetables receiving the greatest exposure to light — usually found closest to the front or top of a display.

Researchers found that spinach leaves, for instance, exposed to continuous light during storage were more nutritionally dense than leaves continually in the dark. The researchers say light affects the leaves’ photosynthetic system, resulting in a significant increase in levels of carotenoids and vitamins C, E, K and B9 (folate).

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