Don’t Chop Your Carrots Until After Cooking
Carrots may contain 25 percent more cancer-fighting power when they are cooked whole and then chopped, rather than being chopped up before cooking, according to a study conducted by researchers from Newcastle University.
Carrots are known to contain a number of important nutrients, including fiber, beta-carotene and other vitamins. Previous studies have also shown that they contain high levels of a chemical known as falcarinol, which has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of tumor developments in rats. As with many nutrients, however, the falcarinol content of carrots appears to decrease with cooking.
In the current study, researchers compared the falcarinol content of carrots that were cut up and then boiled with carrots that were boiled and then cut up. They found that the carrots that have been cooked whole contained 25 percent higher levels of falcarinol.
The researchers then had nearly 100 participants perform taste test on the two batches of carrots. Nearly 80 percent preferred to taste of the carrots had been cooked whole.
Researchers believe that like falcarinol, the naturally occurring sugars in carrots pass more readily through cell membranes that have been weakened by heat. Both the anti-cancer chemical and the sugars fare better in the whole carrots because there is less surface area available through which molecules can exit the vegetable.
“The great thing about this is it’s a simple way for people to increase their uptake of a compound we know is good for you,” said researcher Kirsten Brandt. “All you need is a bigger saucepan.”
Nutritionist Carrie Ruxton greeted the study as beneficial, even while noting that carrots are probably healthiest when eaten raw.
“This is good news as boiling them whole appears to help them keep more of the nutrients,” she said. “This could apply to other vegetables, such as parsnips which are from the same family and have a roughly similar size and texture.”