Is a Carrot Best Raw Or Cooked? The Answer May Surprise You
Should you eat your carrot raw or cooked? We all know that carrots are good for us. They contain beta carotene the precursor for our bodies production of vitamin A along with many other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Carrots are a high fiber low calorie food and should be eaten everyday. The questions is – is it better to eat your carrot raw or cooked?
Most people would assume that raw carrot would win hands down, however this is not necessarily the case. A study by the University of Arkansas has show that the antioxidant properties of carrots actually increase with cooking, particularly if the carrot skin is left on.
Another study by the University of Newcastle showed that cooking whole carrots and then slicing them after cooking, led to a 25% increase of the anti-cancer compound falcarcinol. When you cut the carrot before cooking you expose more of the carrot to the water or steam which which takes out some of the nutrients. However by steaming or boiling them whole and then slicing, you lock in both the taste and increase the amount of some of the antioxidants.
While cooking increases the antioxidants such as cartenoids and falcarcinol it destroys some of the vitamin C and poly-phenols, which are another group of antioxidants shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is important not to over cook your carrot so as to maintain as much of these two compounds as possible.
While raw carrot contains all the vitamin C and poly-phenols the tough cell walls of carrot make it difficult for the body to absorb all the beta carotene. It is estimated that the only 25% of the available beta carotene in raw carrot can be assimilated by the body unless you break down the cells walls through juicing your carrot.
This is probably the best way of getting all the nutrients from your raw carrot, however juicing the carrot also removes the fiber. Fiber is necessary for good digestive health as it keeps you regular and cleans the system. Fiber also helps maintain that full feeling longer without extra calories.
The way different compounds react with the body is still not fully known so comparing the health benefits of raw and cooked foods is complicated. The bottom line is that carrots are good for you whether you eat them raw or cooked and each method has its advantages. Just take care not to overcook them so that you retain as many benefits as possible. In fact the ideal solution would be to alternate have your carrots cooked one time, raw on another occasion and have them juiced regularly that way will you will get the most benefit.