Can LEDs in refrigerators enhance the nutritional value of vegetables?

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Creesto has a Make challenge – “OK guys, in my house we LOVE fresh fruit & vegetables, but cannot spend the time going to the store every other day to ensure that they are as fresh as possible. I remembered reading about a high-end fridge that had LEDs inside to keep the fruits and vegetables happier/healthier for almost twice as long as normal. I found this, the Mitsubishi Electric – Refrigerator – Folio Series:

“Increase Vitamins, Preserve Freshness In order to enhance vegetables nutritional value, Mitsubishi Electric has installed a photosynthesis LED in the crisper, creating the world’s first refrigerator that utilizes photosynthesis to enhance the nutritional value of your vegetables. For the first time in the industry, we are introducing an amazing function that increase vitamins in vegetables. Vegetables are alive even after harvesting. LED lights is irradiated during preservation, and photosynthesis is encouraged, so nutritions such as vitamin C are increased and foods are preserved with vitamin C that are 1.5 times as good as before. Starting from the concept of controlling nutrition loss, we have been able to achieve increasing nutritional values in a totally new-concept refrigerator. Research showed that the light’s color was important: The orange light creates chlorophll in vegetables without inducing them to grow. A small bank of LEDs in the roof of the vegetable drawer produces lights at a wavelength of 590 nanometers (orange). Mitsubishi Electric found that after three days, the vitamin C level in broccoli sprouts stored in their new refrigerator was 50% higher than in a conventional refrigerator.”

Here’s my question and subsequent challenge:

Can this possibly have value as claimed? I’m a bit dubious, as photosynthesis (as I understand it) cannot continue once the plant and fruit have been seperated (no leaves). But there may still be benefits, even if just to assist in efficacy.

So, if there is SOME benefit, this doesn’t sound too difficult to make at home, as long as you know what you are doing: how to wire into an existing fridge, what LEDs to use, etc.

What do you think, is this a worthy challenge?

Makers, are Mitsubishi’s claims possible? Post up if you think orange LEDs will actually make your veggies better, ideas on how to do this and test it.

8 thoughts on “Can LEDs in refrigerators enhance the nutritional value of vegetables?

  1. Well, one thing to consider is that vegetables don’t have central nervous systems per se, so there’s no reason why some amount of photosynthesis can’t occur even after harvesting. This would especially be likely with broccoli, which is conveniently green on its own. On the other hand, fruits which rely on a separate structure (such as a tree or vine) to grow would be unlikely to benefit from such a system, since they probably do minimal amounts of photosynthesizing on their own.

    Testing the claim is relatively easy. Find a filter which allows only the proper wavelength through, or LEDs when are programmable enough to fit that profile. Then set up a few boxes in the refrigerator, one with no light, one with a white light, and one with the filtered light. See which fruit lasts longer. Try with multiple batches to get a good sample.

    For controls, don’t go crazy, but try to control for different temperature zones, other types of foods (since a rotten apple will likely age many different fruits prematurely, for example). On the other hand, don’t try to be excessive, because we’re looking for something that will show significant improvement under real world conditions. If you go through all this and get perhaps a couple of hours out of it, or if having milk in the fridge or a difference of 5 degrees will change the effect more than the light, then the lights aren’t worthwhile.

    Also, check for different fruits and vegetables and see how they do. Theoretically, as mentioned above, green items should do better. There are also some items that are naturally more durable, how would the light affect more durable plants? Would this especially help with herbs? That would be nice.

    Those are my thoughts.

    Brian J. Geiger
    The Food Geek

  2. It is quite an interesting piece, and as mentioned by Brain earlier, it is just perhaps possible…

    But I think the company must have ( if it had not ) done rigorous testing and experimentation of what it claims and should provide us the results of the test or at least an indication that such testing was done…else it makes one really skeptical…

    vic, Castor Oil Dictionary

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