The anti-cancer diet turns orange! In fact, eating carrots helps counteract some types of cellular degeneration. But as long as the carrots are raw. This emerges from a very recent scientific research that appeared in Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a Danish team (Deding et al, Nutrients, 2023).
Nutrition against cancer, what we know
A high intake of fruit and vegetables is considered protective for health, helping to reduce the risk of developing cellular degeneration. More and more scientific research is focusing on trying to understand how foods taken individually, or in combination with others, can prevent or fight cancer. The study we are talking about today adds a new piece to this fascinating puzzle. In particular, research has focused on understanding the anticancer properties of carrots. Previous studies, repeatable and performed on very large samples of the population and therefore very solid, had already had the opportunity to show that a high consumption of carrots counteracts tumors of the intestinal tract. It has always been believed that the anticancer properties of carrots were due to their beta-carotene content, even if this hypothesis has been partially denied by studies, which have shown that the intake of beta-carotene alone, isolated from carrots, isn't protective. On the contrary, beta carotene in such high quantities as in supplements can even increase the risk of lung cancer in predisposed and high-risk people. Carrots, however, contain other compounds with anti-inflammatory and anticancer action, called falcarinol and falcarindiol, which could explain this anticancer action of the vegetable. Not only that, thanks to these substances carrots could also fight other types of cancer in addition to the one that affects the intestinal tract. To shed light on this aspect, Danish scientists have developed the study we are talking about today.
Carrots against tumors, the study
The scientists recruited 55756 volunteers, average age 56 years, and followed them for 25 years to evaluate their state of health. Study participants were asked to fill out questionnaires on a regular basis, indicating their eating habits. In this way it was possible for scientists to evaluate the intake of carrots in the diet and compare it with the state of health. What emerged is that a high and regular intake of carrots significantly protects not only from intestinal cancer, but also from lung cancer and, to a lesser extent, from pancreatic and blood cancers. In particular, the preventive action against lung cancer was even greater than that against intestinal cancer. On the other hand, processed and heated carrots showed no preventive action. Precisely what has been observed seems to indicate that falcarinol and falcarindiol are responsible for the anti-tumor action of carrots. In fact, heat deactivates these substances, which however does not happen for beta carotene, which is made more available with cooking, especially with boiling.
Eating raw carrots is therefore good not only for eyesight but also for contrasting and preventing certain types of cellular degeneration. To preserve their benefits to the maximum, carrots should be washed well and brushed, but not peeled, as it is precisely in the outer layers that healthy substances accumulate. Then, you can cut the carrots into julienne strips, combine them with lamb's lettuce and another salad, season them with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar or lemon and serve. A real anticancer recipe!