Are spoiled fruits and vegetables better for you?
A team of Belgium scientists recently tested 29 different fruits and vegetables to see what happens to their antioxidant capacity over time. Details of the study can be found here. Interestingly, most of the fruits and vegetables had stable levels of antioxidants even after visual signs of spoilage began and many actually expressed higher levels of antioxidants as they began to spoil. So apparently there must be some sweet spot between fresh-off-the-vine and rancid where you get the most health benefits without causing yourself to hurl.
Not surprisingly, I’ve decided not to optimize my fruit and vegetable intake to take advantage of this new insight. Taste trumps nutrition in this case – especially since the difference was usually not that much (except for onions, see below*). But it’s good to know that even if you don’t have a garden or have a farmer’s market nearby that you can get the same (maybe even more) nutritional value from the fruits and vegetables at your local supermarket.
* There where some notable fruits and vegetables that you do want to eat as fresh as possible. These include apricots, spinach, bananas, broccoli and leeks. In contrast, the vegetable with the biggest increase over time was the onion, which continually increased its antioxidant capacity over time – after 23 days onions had over 10 times more than they had when they were fresh!