Carrots aren’t only good for your eyesight, and though beta-carotene is often thought of as the most beneficial compound within this root vegetable, carrots have another “secret weapon” that offers powerful anti-cancer benefits as well.
Known as falcarinol, this secret weapon acts to protect carrots from fungal disease. It’s a natural defense mechanism for the vegetable, and when eaten, it becomes a natural defense mechanism against cancer.
Researchers with Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development have led the way on falcarinol research.
They found that rats who ate feed with falcarinol equal to the amount in carrots were one-third less likely to develop “full scale tumors” than those who didn’t have falcarinol.
These were rats who already had pre-cancerous tumors.
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“Our research allows us to make a more qualitative assessment of the vegetables we are eating, rather than quantitative,” explained lead researcher Dr. Kirsten Brandt. “We now need to take it a step further by finding out how much falcarinol is needed to prevent the development of cancer and if certain types of carrot are better than others, as there are many varieties in existence, of different shapes, colours and sizes.”
Additional research from Dr. Brandt and her colleagues found that whole raw carrots contain more falcarinol than sliced carrots.
Boil Your Carrots Whole Before Slicing Them
According to Dr. Brandt, the secret of healthier and tastier carrots is to use a bigger pan so they can be cooked whole. They found that carrots boiled before they were cut contained 25 per cent more falcarinol than those that were chopped up first.
The researchers say this is because although some nutrients are leeched out in the cooking process, keeping the carrots whole helps prevent this.
On the other hand, boiling sliced carrots for 12 minutes reduces the concentration of falcarinol by about 70%, according to researchers with Harvard University.
The lesson here is, if you like your carrots cooked, keep them whole. If you prefer them raw, you can slice them all you want.
But, no matter how you eat them, you are receiving some anti-cancer benefits – at least according to this study and other research. Naturally, juicing the carrots makes it easier to consume.