Expert Opinions

Expert Opinions Archive
Can you destroy the beta-carotene in carrots by cooking? It doesn't seem logical to me that a carotenoid could be destroyed by heat. After all, the carrots stay orange when cooked!

R.N. Salt Lake City, UT
No, cooking does not destroy beta-carotene in carrots. In fact, heat improves the bioavailability of beta-carotene because it helps to break down the tough cellular walls in carrots that retain the beta-carotene. Heat dissociates the protein-carotenoid complexes that are often found in food. Since fat also enhances absorption of beta-carotene, a meal that provides some fat along with cooked carrots will help the body to absorb more than half of the beta-carotene present. Some studies suggest that ordinary processing and cooking of carrots causes minor differences in the amount of beta-carotene absorbed by the body, but the variations are not really significant in ordinary meals. Note, however, that cooking carrots at very high temperatures, or for a long time, can destroy some beta-carotene.
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