Cooking Carrots for Cancer Fighting Power

Find out how cooking carrots can help fight cancer

No vegetable is more commonly cooked for health than the carrot, but how carrots are cooked and served has tremendous impact on their nutritional benefit.

The news services recently reported that chopping carrots before boiling them reduces their content of the cancer-fighting compound falcarinol. Chopped carrots have greater surface area than carrots cooked whole after a light peeling. More of this water-soluble ingredient leaches out in boiling water the more the carrots are chopped.

Most of the important eye and heart nutrients in carrots, however, are soluble in fat, not water, and they are more available from cooked carrots than from raw carrots or carrot juice. The antioxidant beta-carotene in carrots is formed in tough, protein-encased sacs in the body of the carrot. These little packages of beta-carotene have to be broken up by heat and mechanical action before the beta-carotene is released. Moreover, they are 10-times better absorbed when the carrots are cooked with some form of oil or fat, whether it is vegetable oil, margarine, or butter.

So what is the healthy way to serve carrots?
Carrot sticks are crunchy and carrot juice is tasty, but cooked carrots have greater available nutrition than either raw carrots or carrot juice. To save their water-soluble falcarinol, cook your carrots as nearly whole as possible. But to make sure the beta-carotene is available, chop, mash, or puree them after cooking and serve with just a little fat. As little as 3 grams (30 calories) from fat in the entire meal is enough to ensure that your body can absorb all the cancer-fighting and eye- and heart-protective nutrients of this versatile food.

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