Cooked Carrots May be Better than Raw Ones

Everyone knows that it´s good to eat fruits and vegetables. You can probably find in most lunch bags packed for school an apple or orange and some raw vegetables - celery, cucumber or carrots. Raw vegetables are quick to prepare and are often the only way children can be fooled into getting enough vegetables in their diet. Creating circus animals made out of raw celery, tomatoes, brocholi and carrots stretches the imagination but it seems to work for many fussy eaters.

Most people believe that cooking vegetables lowers their nutritional value. High temperature is usually not the best thing for many of the sensitive compounds that are contained in our food. But new research from the University of Arkansas indicates that for carrots, at least, cooking may in fact increase their goodness.

Carrots are one of the best sources of carotene which is a strong antioxidant. But carrots also contain other phenolic compounds that are antioxidants. The Arkansas researchers were studying the effects of thermal processing (cooking) on the antioxidant properties of carrots. The carrots (peeled or non-peeled) were sliced and blanched (2 minutes or 20 minutes), cooked in cans at 250 oC for 75 minutes and then stored for up to 4 weeks. In all cases the antioxidant power of the processed carrots was greater - on average 34% higher - than for raw carrots. During the first week of storage the antioxidant properties continued to climb, before declining over the next 3 weeks in storage. At the end of the 4 weeks the processed carrots still had more oxidative power than raw carrots.

Heating vegetables, either during processing or cooking, is a way of reducing enzyme activity that can lead to undesirable changes in colour, flavour and texture. But the heat can also change compounds found in the raw food into other chemically related compounds. The properties of these new compounds may be different as was reported in this carrot cooking experiment.

Raw vegetables may be popular with many people, but this study shows that at least some processed and canned vegetables can be just as nutritious as raw ones. In areas where fresh produce is not available year round, or where frozen vegetables are not practical, canned vegables are an ideal option.

Table 1.
Carrot Facts
Botanical name :Daucus carota, member of the Apiaceae family
Country of Origin :Near East (Afghanistan)
Other Members of the Carrot Family :caraway, celery, fennel, parsley, parship
World’s Largest Producer of Carrots :China 274,900,000 MT (FAO, 1990)
Important Dietary Source of :carotene or provitamin A
Nutritional Profile
(per 100 g) :
87.8 g water,
1.03 g protein,
0.19 g fat,
3.0 g fiber,
10.1 g carbophydrate
  1. Reference
  2. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 48: 1315-1321 (2000)1

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External Link Index 1 - http://dx.doi.org/10.1021%2Fjf9910178