According to a recent study, a natural substance in raw carrots named “falcarinol” can reduce the risk of cancer [1]. Experts believe that falcarinol slows the growth of cancer cells, making cancer less likely to invade. This unique substance is inactivated by heat or cooking, so it is critical to eat raw carrots for falcarinol’s benefits.

My favorite way to eat carrots is chilled, peeled, and lightly salted with sea salt. Pre-washed baby carrots in bags and carrot juice are easy ways to get enough. I eat one carrot every day (or a handful of baby carrots).

In addition to falcarinol, carrots are naturally rich in healthy plant pigments called “carotenoids.” Orange “beta-carotene” is a carotenoid that gives carrots their beautiful orange hue. Numerous studies have suggested that beta-carotene might protect against cancer, including breast cancer. Researchers at Harvard found that younger women who ate two or more servings of carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables a day (including oranges, broccoli, carrots, romaine lettuce, and spinach) had a 17% lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate fewer than four servings a week [2]. Researchers believe that carotenoids could reduce the negative effects of estrogen on the body early in life. Another study found that eating carotenoids was associated with lower death rates in breast cancer survivors [3].

Remarkably, one study found that the risk of breast cancer was 221% less for women who consumed the highest levels of beta-carotene compared to women who ate the lowest levels [4]. Cooking carrots won’t destroy beta-carotene. Cooked carrots topped with a cholesterol-reducing spread and sprinkled with sea salt (or herbs) are hard to beat. I don’t recommend supplements containing super amounts of beta-carotene. Food sources are best.

Your skin will also look better if you eat carrots. Beta-carotene gives your skin a nice glow, and also protects your vision. Researchers are actively studying the full benefits of carrots, but there is no reason to wait. Your health today is too important.


1. Kobaek-Larsen M et al, Inhibitory effects of feeding with carrots or (-)-falcarinol on development of azoxymethane-induced preneoplastic lesions in the rat colon. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2005; 53:1823-7.

2. Mignone LI, Giovannucci E, Newcomb PA, Titus-Ernstoff L, Trentham-Dietz A, Hampton JM, Willett WC, Egan KM. Dietary carotenoids and the risk of invasive breast cancer. International Journal of Cancer 2009; 124:2929-37.

3. McEligot AJ, Largent J, Ziogas A, Peel D, Anton-Culver H. Dietary fat, fiber, vegetable, and micronutrients are associated with overall survival in postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer. Nutrition and Cancer 2006; 55:132-140.

4. Toniolo P, Van Kappel AL, Akhemedkhanov A, Ferrari P, Kato I, Shore RE, Riboli E. Serum carotenoids and breast cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology 2001; 153:1142-1147.

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