Can Carrots Eat Away at Your Risk of Cancer?

In more evidence eating whole foods are good for you, falcarinol, a natural compound that protects carrots from fungal diseases, may be a potent cancer fighter. A European study has discovered the chemical reduces malignancies in rats by a third.

Researchers studied 24 rats with precancerous tumors that mimicked human colorectal cancer for 18 weeks. The rats were assigned to three groups, with each given a different diet. Scientists found rats that ate carrots along with their ordinary feed, as well as a second group that had falcarinol added to their feed, were a third less likely to develop cancerous tumors compared with rats that were given neither.

The exact mechanism behind falcarinol's anti-cancer activity remains unknown and researchers don't know if the results seen in rats would be enjoyed by humans. Nevertheless, the results appear very encouraging, reinforcing the belief other fruits and vegetables -- think resveratrol, a cancer-fighting compound found in grapes and other plants -- have similar protective qualities.

The discovery also provoked researchers to ask the question, whose answer cuts to the heart of all the advantages one can enjoy by eating a healthy diet based on one's unique nutritional type: Why is eating vegetables is so much better for your health than just taking a vitamin pill with the same amount of vitamins and minerals?

Researchers are also uncertain if the beneficial effect of falcarinol is diluted or eliminated when carrots are cooked or juiced. Another caveat: Although carrots have beta carotene and other beneficial nutrients, they are also high in sugars and can disrupt one's insulin balance if consumed in excess.

If you have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or triglycerides, extra weight, or diabetes, I would strongly advise against juicing carrots, other than maybe a very small amount added to a 'green' vegetable juice occasionally.

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry February 5, 2005

Yahoo News February 9, 2005

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