Some time ago I wrote about a really exciting meta-analysis (in which scientists combine the results of several studies) that showed how eating a carrot every day can reduce a man's likelihood of developing prostate cancer by 50%.  The newspaper found that the more men ate carrots and the more carrots they ate, the less likely they were to develop prostate cancer. They even gave some specific numbers: for every 10 grams of carrots consumed every day, men reduced their risk of developing prostate cancer by 5%.
That meant that they ate only 50 grams of carrots a day – which you can easily achieve. Eating a single, average-sized carrot ̵
But maybe that wasn't enough to get you to nibble carrots. You may need to be hit on the head not just once, but two or three times.
Good, because science has since worked intensively on several other promising studies on carrots, including how they could help people lose fat and build muscle.
Is it a carrot or a long, orange body?
When this study on carrots and prostate cancer came out, the researchers thought that the beneficial effects of root vegetables had something to do with the large amount of carotenoids they contain.
While this is still the case, the scientists are instead focusing on two fatty alcohols, which are found in high concentrations in carrots and other root vegetables. These fatty alcohols are called falcarinol and falcarindiol, and Danish scientists found that each of these fatty alcohols prevents the fat cells from absorbing more fat and that the muscle cells absorb more glucose.
The double effect of fatty alcohols was so pronounced that the Danes compared it to rosiglitazone, an antidiabetic that binds to PPAR-gamma (a protein that acts as a receptor for fat) in fat cells and makes them more sensitive to insulin.
The comparison is correct due to falcarinol and falcarindiol also has an effect on PPAR gamma. Just like the drug, the two plant chemicals actually showed insulin-sensitizing properties that, when combined with proper nutrition and exercise, can lead to more muscles and less body fat.
How else do you have?
It looks like these two fatty alcohols contained in carrots also fight colon cancer. A 2017 study with rats found that falcarinol and falcarindiol greatly reduced the number of polyp clusters and tumors in rats given large amounts of a carcinogen.
However, a study from 2020 was more convincing, in which 57,053 Danes from the United States took part. From the mid-1990s to 2016, it was found that those who ate between two and four carrots a day were significantly less likely to develop colorectal cancer than Danes, who consumed fewer carrots.
Using this information
Using this information? Are you kidding? Do I have to spell it out for you? Eat a damn carrot! Every day!
One caveat: The carrots have to be eaten raw. Carrot juice will likely suffice as long as you've actually seen the carrot being fed into the blender, rather than being a grocery version that was centrifuged or chewed to death and its falcarinol and falcarindiol beat and bleed.
I. should also add that parsnips, another root vegetable, actually contain more of these two fatty alcohols than carrots, but I doubt anyone would want to eat raw parsnips. Some of them have a hint of sweetness, but overall they taste like a mix of a carrot, a potato, and a gym sock.
Do yourself a favor and stick with the carrots.
The Best Food For Prostate Health
The Best Juice to Drink for Prostate Health
- Ulrik Deding, Gunnar Baatrup, Lars Porskjaer Christensen, Morten Kobaek-Larsen, "Carrot Intake and Colon Cancer Risk: A Prospective Cohort Study of 57,053 Danes", Nutrients, Volume 12, Issue 2, January 27, 2020.
- Morten Kobaek-Larsen, Raureif B. El-Houri, Lars P. Christensen, Issam Al-Najami, Xavier Fretté and Gunnar Baatrup, "Dietary Polyacetylenes, Falcarinol and Falcarindiol, Isolated from Carrots prevents the formation of neoplastic lesions in the large intestine of azoxymethane-induced rats, "Food and Function, edition 7, 2015.
- Rime El-Houri, Dorotka Kotowska, Kathrine Christensen et al. "Carrot polyacetylenes (Daucus carota) improve glucose uptake in vitro in adipocytes and myotubes", Food and Function, edition 7, 2015.
- Xu X1, Cheng Y, Li S, Zhu Y, Xu X, Zheng X, Mao Q, Xie L. Dietary carrot consumption and the risk of prostate cancer. J Nutr only. 2014 Dec; 53 (8): 1615-23.