Healthy living

Cook carrots whole boosts anti-cancer properties

these guys are for the chop - or not! Cook then chop to maximise falcarinol level

Cooking carrots whole boosts their anti-cancer properties by 25% compared to chopping them before cooking, new research reveals.

Scientists from Newcastle University found that 'boiled-before-cut' carrots contained 25% more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those chopped first and then boiled.

As an added bonus, the carrots cooked this way were also sweeter, as they retained more of the naturally occurring sugars which give carrots their distinctive sweet flavour.

Lead researcher Dr. Kirsten Brandt said:

“Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are being cooked,”

“By cooking them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in both taste and nutrients so the carrot is better for you all round.”

Previous research by the scientists showed that laboratory rats fed on a diet containing raw carrots or on isolated falcarinol were a third less likely to develop full-scale tumours than those in a control group.

Since then the group have been investigating how to maximise the anti-cancer property of carrots.

Through heating, carrot cells are killed, water is lost and falcarinol concentration increases. However, the downside is that heat also softens the cell walls which means that valuable water-soluble nutrients such as sugars, vitamin C and falcarinol can leach out.

Cutting the carrots before cooking adds to this effect, as the carrot surface area becomes much greater, and so more nutrients are lost as well as the sweet taste.

The team also carried out a blind taste test on almost 100 people to compare the taste of ‘boiled-before-cut’ versus ‘cut-before-boiled’ carrots.

More than 80% thought the carrots cooked whole tasted much better.

Dr Brandt concluded:

“We all want to try to improve our health and diet by getting the right nutrients and eating our five-a-day. 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, all you need is a bigger saucepan.”

This article was published on Wed 17 June 2009

Image © sylada -

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