Let There be Light...or Not

Different types of spinaches offer more vitamin benefits

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When you go to the grocery store and you're looking for a bag of spinach, do you automatically grab the bag that's closer to the back because you think it's more fresh?

Of course it's not only where the bag is, but what the bag looks like. Wilted bags of spinach are not usually the first choice. Researchers have found that spinach that is constantly exposed to light may have more benefits, although some types of spinach left in light cause more wilting.

"Grab the bags of spinach in the light."

Gene Lester and colleagues performed an experiment with two different types of spinach leaves, crinkled and flat, to determine if exposure of light would affect it. The benefits that were measured were vitamins C, B9, K1, E and carotenoids lutein, violaxanthin, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene.

Researchers found that leaves that had constant exposure to light had higher levels of all vitamins but lower levels of some carotenoids. The spinach that had exposure to light were also more likely to wilt, especially the flat leaves.

The spinach that was left in the dark either declined or had no change in levels of vitamins and minerals. With that being said, it's probably safer to just go with the bags of spinach in the light. Ultimately though, it's up to you; risk the possible decline of benefits or grab the wilted leaves with more benefits.

The Study

  • Gene Lester and colleagues from United States Department of Agriculture performed study
  • Compared "Lazio" flat-leaf and "Samish" crinkled-leaf
  • Measured leaf maturity, vitamins C, B9, K1, E, and carotenoids lutein, violaxanthin, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene
  • Use of continuous light exposure allowed better preservation of vitamins and carotenoids
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 5, 2011
Last Updated:
May 6, 2011