Scientists say cutting carrots cuts cancer-fighting properties
June 18, 2009 12:00am
COOKING carrots before chopping them boosts their anti-cancer properties by 25 per cent, researchers say.
Leaving the vegetable intact prevents valuable nutrients being washed away.
Once cooked they can be chopped without loss of nutrients. It also makes them taste better.
Carrots have long been prized for their health benefits, especially their vitamin and fibre content.
They also contain huge amounts of carotenoids, which are converted into vitamin A in the body.
But more importantly, the carrots are an excellent source of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol.
In a previous study, Dr Kirsten Brandt found rats fed on a diet containing carrots or isolated falcarinol were a third less likely to develop full-scale tumours than those that weren't.
Now Dr Brandt and researcher Ahlam Rashed, from Newcastle's School of Agriculture in Britain, have gone further.
They found that carrots boiled before they were cut contained 25 per cent more falcarinol than those that were chopped up first.
Cut carrots have a higher surface area in contact with the water, resulting in greater loss of nutrients compared with boiling them whole.
The heat softens the cell walls in the vegetable, allowing vitamins and falcarinol to leach out.
Dr Brandt said: "The great thing about this is it's a simple way for people to increase their uptake of a compound we know is good for you.
"All you need is a bigger saucepan."