Think the spinach in supermarkets isn’t as nutrient-packed as the stuff that comes straight out of the ground? Think again. The unpleasant fluorescent lighting found in grocery stores actually enhances the nutritional value of spinach, according to a study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Chemistry.
The researchers involved in the study found that spinach in clear plastic containers kept at 30 degrees F and exposed to fluorescent lighting for 24 hours a day contained boosted levels of vitamins C, K, E, folate, lutein, and zeaxanthin after just three days. Nine days on, folate levels increased by 84% to 100%, while Vitamin K levels increased between 50% and 100%.
Does this mean we should go for supermarket fruits and veggies over farm-fresh varieties? Not exactly. A recent study from IFR EXTRA showed that vegetables on supermarket shelves can lose up to 45% of their nutritional value between the time they are picked and land in stores. Spinach might be an exception. Eventually, though, the researchers hope to use fluorescent lights to improve the value of a number of vegetables–so supermarket produce might not be so bad in the end.