Those Veggies in the Refrigerator May Be Losing Their Nutrients

Because eating fresh, healthy foods is one of the foundations of optimizing your health -- based on my Total Health Program -- I was drawn to this interesting study about the effects of refrigeration, and the lack of it, on the nutritional value of spinach.

According to Penn State researchers, spinach can lose much of its nutrient content between the time it's stored in your refrigerator and it reaches your dinner plate. Spinach stored at 39 degrees Fahrenheit loses its foliate and carotenoid content more slowly than it does when it sits in rooms warmed to 50 or 68 degrees, respectively.

By the numbers:

  • Spinach loses 53 percent of its folate content after eight days in a refrigerator cooled at 39 degrees.
  • Stored at 50 degrees, 47 percent of spinach's folate content was lost after six days.
  • Stored at 68 degrees, the same loss of folate content took just four days.

So, due to the high demand for fresh vegetables like spinach that are often shipped cross-country -- with varying degrees of storage temperatures -- much of its nutrient content may be gone by the time it hits the dinner table too, scientists said.

One portion of this study I do take issue with: Researchers claim, in some cases, canned or frozen spinach may be better for you than fresh spinach, which due to the composition of the container and the potential for trace carcinogens, just isn't true.

Additionally, the freezing process causes damage to the cells in food, which can also compromise its nutritional value. However, if you have no option and must choose between frozen or canned, frozen would be the better option.

Journal of Food Science, November/December 2004, Vol. 69, No. 9: C702-7

EurekAlert March 18, 2005

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