Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed a method for making lettuce healthier by exposing it to UV LED light. Stephen Britz, a plant physiologist with the USDA, and his colleagues presented their research at the 2009 Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics/International Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/IQEC) earlier this month.
Apparently, exposure to ultraviolet LED light causes the leaves of lettuce to become darker and redder, meaning they possess more antioxidants. Diets rich in antioxidants are said to provide a variety of health benefits including improving brain function and slowing the effects of aging.
Britz exposed lettuce leaves specifically to UVB light, which is also found in the sun’s rays. After shining approximately 10 milliwatts of the light per square meter (about the same amount you’d expect on a sunny day at the beach) for nearly 2 days, the lettuce was redder than that of the plants only exposed to white light.
The implications of this new development, obviously, mean that healthy food just got healthier. Now, I’m not meaning to belittle Britz and his discovery, but I just think if he can do the same thing with Twinkies, well, then he’s really on to something.