Carrots boiled whole before being cut up are better at fighting cancer and are tastier than when they are sliced before being cooked, a study has shown.
It may require a bigger saucepan but cutting a carrot after boiling it could boost its health-giving properties by a quarter. Researchers at the University of Newcastle found that "boiled-before-cut" carrots contained 25 per cent more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those that were chopped up first.
And the sugars which give the carrot its distinctively sweet flavour were also found in higher concentrations in the carrot that had been cooked whole, so the vegetable tasted better as well as being healthier.
The health benefits of falcarinol were first discovered four years ago when Kirsten Brandt, who led the study, found rats fed on a diet containing carrots or isolated falcarinol were a third less likely to develop tumours than those in a control group.
"Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are being cooked," said Dr Brandt. "By cooking them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in both taste and nutrients. We all want to try to improve our health and diet by getting the right nutrients and eating our five-a-day.
"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."
The team presented their results at a conference in Lille, France, yesterday. They also carried out a blind taste test on almost 100 people comparing the taste of "boiled-before-cut" versus "cut-before-boiled" carrots. The response was overwhelming with more than 80 per cent saying that carrots cooked whole tasted much better.