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Carrots – cooked or raw?

Have you ever analyzed the food set before you on the dining table? Of course, everyone looks at their food but how closely did you look? The chances are that you haven’t looked as closely as scientists have because studies on the nutritional value of carrots, performed by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry looked at the different methods which were used to cook certain vegetables and came up with surprizing results. What they found out may just add to your knowledge of the nutritional value of cooked carrots as opposed to raw ones.

Raw values

Everyone knows that carrots are good for you. From an early age, children are encouraged to eat them. Parents comment about them being able to let people see in the dark. Whether that is an old wive’s tale or not remains to be seen, although the amount of vitamins and minerals that are provided by raw carrots is pretty amazing.

Vitamin A in a raw carrot is more than seven times the daily dietary amount human beings need. As vitamin A promotes good vision, which is where the myth originated from in the first place. Vitamin K is also present in carrots as well as vitamins B6, B1 and B3. B vitamins are used for helping to produce energy. Hence, the happy rabbit who bounces around probably knows a little about what B vitamins do, and he didn’t eat his carrots cooked.

Potassium, mangenese and phosphorus are all needed by the body and carrots provide these. Potassium is needed to produce an electrical impulse which helps to make sure that the amount of acids within the system are healthy. Manganese has some pretty amazing uses as well, including helping the thyroid to operate within normal parameters. Phosphorus helps to make sure that bones and teeth stay strong.

Looking at the list of things which raw carrots provide, it’s hard to see how cooked carrots could even compete with raw ones. However, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry’s experiment shows that in fact carrots cooked in water may be more beneficial.

Carrots cooked in water

There are many reasons why families serve up boiled carrots. Some people even find them easier to eat than their raw counterparts. Softer, they don’t aggravate teeth problems though their benefits go way beyond most people’s expectations. The secret lies in the amount of antioxidants in cooked carrots. In fact, these anti oxidants are not even released from the carrot until the cooking process.

The study explained how vegetables with strong colors, such as carrots, contain bioactive compounds which are not released until the cooking stages. They also found, like most housewives would, that the texture and color of vegetables changes during the cooking process. The study used three vegetables to demonstrate the goodness released by vegetables during the cooking process. These were carrots, brocolli and courgettes.

The chart showing the results of the study show other amazing values that people may wonder about. For example, the public is told that steaming vegetables is healthier than boiling them. Makers of steamers purport that much flavor is lost in the water used for boiling and that steaming produces better, healthier vegetables. In fact, if you look at the chart on the study, what it proved was that boiled carrots contained more carotenoids than those carrots which were raw or steamed. This is a pretty amazing find, since carotenoids are very important as antioxidants. The bottom line on antioxidants would appear to be common sense. The Harvard School of Public Health, although set against the introduction of antioxidants in the form of supplements, were in agreement in their report that antioxidants do help the body to ward off disease and the effects of aging.

So what about antioxidants found in natural foods like carrots?

These are very important to health. The findings of the study mentioned above showed that the increase in carotenoids caused during cooking meant an effective increase in antioxidants. This means that carrots can help ward off illnesses.

Fitness Day purports that the antioxidants found in carrots especially when boiled can help ward off heart problems and even fight the possibility of cancers. They also state that cooked carrots can cut down your risk factor of lung disease by as as much as 50 per cent. Does that give you a free license to smoke more? Of course not and extra smoking would of course bring down that percentage. What it clearly states though is that as a chosen vegetable, cooked carrots can help clean out the system so that it works more efficiently.

In conclusion, raw carrots have a lot of nutritional benefits to everyone, though those getting a little older or failing in health may find that cooked carrots really do help in their fight against disease.