Eating Baby Carrots 3 Times a Week May Provide Significant Health Benefits

By engin akyurt

A new study found that eating a snack of baby carrots just three times a week significantly increased skin carotenoids in young adults. Levels of these phytonutrients were boosted even more when combined with a multivitamin containing beta carotene.

Carotenoids are responsible for the red, orange, and yellow pigments in many fruits and vegetables—and when it’s measured in the skin it shows how many fruits and vegetables you’ve been eating.

Higher levels of skin carotenoids are linked to increased antioxidant protection, and a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and some cancers. This marker also reflects improved skin health and immune function.

“Previous studies have demonstrated that skin carotenoid levels can be increased by consuming three times the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables every day for three weeks,” said Mary Harper Simmons, a Master of Science in Nutrition student at Samford University.

“Our findings suggest that a small, simple dietary modification — incorporating baby carrots as a snack — can significantly increase skin carotenoid accumulation.”

Simmons presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held June 29–July 2 in Chicago.

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 60 young adults to groups that received a four-week intervention of either Granny Smith apple slices (the control group), 100 grams of baby carrots (around 1/2 cup), a multivitamin supplement containing beta carotene, or a combination of baby carrots and the supplement.

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Before and after the intervention, they used a noninvasive research-grade spectroscopy instrument called a VeggieMeter to detect and quantify carotenoids in the skin of the study participants.

The team found that compared to their baseline levels, skin carotenoid scores were significantly increased by 10.8% in the group receiving the baby carrots and by 21.6% in the group receiving the carrots and the supplement. Skin carotenoid levels remained unchanged in the apple group, and in those receiving just the multi-vitamin supplement.

“We found that the combination of baby carrots and a multivitamin supplement that contains beta carotene can have an interactive effect on skin carotenoid accumulation,” said Simmons. “To get a beneficial effect, people should choose a multivitamin that contains beta carotene, and remember to eat baby carrots at least three times a week.”

Since carotenoid accumulation was not increased by multivitamin supplementation alone there could be differences in how carotenoids are absorbed, depending on whether they are from food or supplements.

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The researchers would like to explore the mechanism behind these findings and study the effects of other carotenoid-rich foods, such as sweet potato or green leafy vegetables.

The team noted that their current findings should be considered preliminary until a peer-reviewed publication is available.

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