THURSDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Fruits and vegetables in
grocery stores are still alive and know what time of day it is,
The findings suggest that the way produce is stored and eaten
could have an impact on its nutritional value and health benefits,
according to the study, which was published June 20 in the journal
"Vegetables and fruits, even after harvest, can respond to light
signals and consequently change their biology in ways that may
affect health value and insect resistance," study author Janet
Braam, of Rice University, said in a journal news release. "Perhaps
we should be storing our vegetables and fruits under light-dark
cycles and timing when to cook and eat them to enhance their health
By remaining alive after being harvested, vegetables and fruits
can alter levels of chemicals that protect them from being eaten by
insects and other creatures, the researchers found. Some of these
chemicals also have anti-cancer effects.
Braam and her colleagues made the initial discovery in cabbage
and then found similar responses in lettuce, carrots, spinach,
sweet potatoes, zucchini and blueberries.
By eating vegetables and fruits at certain times of day, you may
gain the most benefit from them. But that may prove challenging, so
the researchers suggested another approach to get the most out of
"It may be of interest to harvest crops and freeze or otherwise
preserve them at specific times of day, when nutrients and valuable
phytochemicals are at their peak," Braam said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
fruits and vegetables.