Modified Atmosphere Packaging and Dark/Light Refrigerated Storage in Green Leafy Vegetables Have an Impact on Nutritional Value

  • Raquel Esteban
  • Javier Buezo
  • José M. Becerril
  • José I. García-Plazaola
Original Paper


The consumption of zeaxanthin (Z) through a vegetable-rich diet is recommended to reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Due to Z’s intrinsic dynamic character that results from its participation in the photoprotective xanthophyll cycle involving the carotenoids violaxanthin, antheraxanthin and zeaxanthin (VAZ), post-harvest handling practices and storage usually retain low amounts of this bioactive compound (compared to the rest of phytochemicals that are, in general, more stable). Thus, the aim of this work was to investigate in important consumed leafy vegetables the effects of different storage conditions on carotenoids (mainly Z) including i) packaging under three modified atmospheres (MAs), ii) light refrigerated supermarket storage and iii) dark refrigerated domestic storage. The results showed that an MA with low O2 and high CO2 enhanced the Z content under light. Moreover, both light and dark refrigerated storage showed dynamic and circadian pigment changes that enhanced the total VAZ pool. These results can contribute to generating practical recommendations for industries, supermarkets, and consumers when high Z content is a nutritional target.


Carotenoids Health Fridge Market Modified atmosphere Xanthophylls 





Age-related macular degeneration






Dim light-exposed


Dry weight


Fresh weight


Modified atmosphere








Photosynthetic photon flux density


Total carotenoids




The xanthophyll cycle involving the carotenoids violaxanthin, antheraxanthin and zeaxanthin


Violaxanthin de-epoxidase





RE received a Juan de la Cierva-incorporación grant IJCI-2014-21452. JB is the holder of a PhD fellowship from the Public University of Navarre. This research was supported by the research grants BFU 2010-15021 and CTM2014-53902-C2-2-P from the Ministry of Education and Science of Spain and the ERDF (FEDER) as well as the research project UPV/EHU IT-1018-16. Technical and human support from Eroski supermarkets and the “Fundación Tecnova” is gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)BilbaoSpain
  2. 2.Departament of Sciences-Institute of Multidisciplinary Applied Biology Research (IMAB)Public University of NavarreMutilvaSpain

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