Are Raw Carrots Really More Nutritious Than Cooked Ones?

It's generally presumed that raw fruits and vegetables are better than cooked ones — and there is some truth to it. According to Healthline, cooking can sometimes destroy the much-needed nutrients that raw foods contain. Foods contain certain enzymes that help with digestion and these enzymes are often sensitive to heat, which means cooking foods at high temperatures often destroys them. Such is the case for both vitamins B and C. Healthline notes that boiling raw foods can reduce the content of these vitamins to half.

Naturally, you might think that fact hold up in the case of carrots, too, with raw being more nutritious than cooked. However, that isn't the case. Apart from the obvious benefits of cooking raw foods in that they may make certain vegetables easier for you to chew and digest, high temperatures from cooking can also kill bacteria that could be harmful for you. Carrots, in particular, are far more nutritious when cooked, Healthline notes. Here's why.

Cooked carrots are actually more nutritious 

Carrots contain beta-carotene, which is a kind of carotenoid that converts to vitamin A inside our bodies (via Livestrong). This is why carrots are considered to be a good vegetable to add to your diet if you want to improve your eyesight. According to Healthline, vitamin A, in some cases, may lower the risk of cancer, help boost your immune system, improve your bone health, and even reduce skin acne. Needless to say, vitamin A is pretty good stuff.

In 2012, the Journal of Food Science and Technology found that carrots, when raw, have very tough cellular walls, which stop our bodies from converting anymore than 25% of the beta-carotene present in carrots into vitamin A. Cooking carrots helps dissolve some of the cellular walls, helping our body convert more beta-carotene into vitamin A. And that's not all! Another study by the Journal of Food Science found that cooking unpeeled carrots can even increase the antioxidants present in them three-fold.

Next time you go to grab a bag of raw carrots for a mid-day snack, it might be best to consider cooking them instead if you want to make the most of all the nutrients those carrots contain.