Carrots: better raw or cooked?

Carrots have many and precious benefits, from intestine regulation to the improvement of night vision. But what is the best way to consume them?

It is well known that carrots are so good for you; this vegetable, which is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, is considered one of the best anti-cancer foods, due to its antioxidant, immune stimulating and anti-aging properties. They also help regulating the intestine, they improve night vision and make your cheeks red because the carotene has also anti-anemic properties and it increases the number of red blood cells.


But what is the best way to eat carrots? Generally, we tend to think that many vegetables, including carrots, should be eaten raw, or else they lose many vitamins. But, although this is the right way not to make them lose vitamin C, which is easily destroyed with heat, carrots hold other surprises.


Beta-carotene is not a heat-sensitive nutrient, therefore, it is not destroyed with a short cooking time; actually, when this vegetable is cooked, the cell walls of the plant tissues soften, making it easier for our digestive system to assimilate this precious substance. Basically, a short cooking time increases the assimilation of beta-carotene. But you shouldn’t cook the root too much: it should remain compact and crunchy.


Another useful “trick” to assimilate even more beta-carotene is to season the carrots with fats (oil, butter, oily seeds). Fat increases the bioavailability of beta-carotene and it can triple your body’s ability to absorb it. Don’t make the mistake of cooking carrots and leaving them at room temperature too long (more than 5-6 hours), because harmful substances can develop on them.


Finally a recipe advice: season cooked (but still crunchy) carrots with sesame seeds, minced garlic, fresh mint, extra virgin olive oil, salt and a dash of apple cider vinegar. Finger-licking good.


Francesca Marotta

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