Raw Carrots? WTF?

I'm soundly and reflexively opposed to the notion of "super foods"—particularly since when such moronic stupidity is uttered and then published far & wide—in every health section of any outlet you can name—it's always...no, fucking always, about some silly plant.

There are only a few "super foods," and liver tops the list. Bread—or any grain product—is far from any such list.

Media outlets have begrudgingly come out in support of eggs for their nutrition, but I'm still waiting for organ meats. I'll probably be waiting a while.

...A couple of weeks ago, I noticed we had on hand a lot of baby carrots in the bags they come in. And so, I proceeded to snack on them at night, whilst watching TV, blogging...so forth. I dunno. Not measured, but at least several ounces per night. And I noticed something interesting. Two things, really.

  1. Now and then when I have my whiskey in the evening, then have dinner, I'll get a touch of mild heartburn or if not, just a bit of stomach discomfort. I noted that on these evenings I ate raw carrots, none of that. Rather, a nice settled feeling. I've previously noted the same thing with raw celery.
  2. The morning ritual (no TMI) was pretty perfect.

I didn't really think all that much of it—certainly not enough to blog about, and have all the Ray Peat fans come crawling around.

Then just a few days later, so coincidentally, a commenter dropped this link in a comment.

The effect of raw carrot on serum lipids and colon function

J Robertson, WG Brydon, K Tadesse, P Wenham, A Walls and MA Eastwood

Two hundred grams of raw carrot eaten at breakfast each day for 3 weeks significantly reduced serum cholesterol by 11%, increased fecal bile acid and fat excretion by 50%, and modestly increased stool weight by 25%. This suggests an associated change in bacterial flora or metabolism. The changes in serum cholesterol, fecal bile acids, and fat persisted 3 weeks after stopping treatment.

I took notice because I realized in an instant that confirmation bias had been eliminated in my case, as I'd already noticed and begun to think there might be something to munching on raw carrots, of all things.

The study is from way back in 1979, probably when science was better. The full text is free (PDF).

It's not huge—only 5 subjects—but results seem pretty uniform amongst all subjects and markedly different from their baseline state.

What's interesting about reading the full text, which I read hastily, is that it appears that the 50% increase in fat in the stool is most likely the result of the fermentation of fiber in the gut. From the full text:

The total breath hydrogen increased by the 3rd week from 17 to 39 ppm. [...]

A possible explanation of the effects is given by the breath hydrogen. The expired breath hydrogen in normals is derived from bacterial activity in the colon, therefore, the increase in breath hydrogen is probably due to fiber fermentation in the colon. This implies that that the pH, redox potential, and bacterial activity, e.g., on bile acids, alters as a result of fiber hydrolysis to short-chained fatty acids.

[emphasis added]

Yep, see it's nearly impossible to escape fat in the diet. If you don't eat it dietarily, instead preferring fibrous foods, your body will just make (ferment) the fat in the gut.

Remember butyric acid?
 

Comments

  1. I wonder how much of it is being absorbed vs being shat out?

  2. I love raw carrots. Good Ray Peat reference R N. :-)

  3. I find the same. I’m surprised you keep the baby carrots, though. The real ones have so much more taste.

    • I do both, and it always depends, I find that the WF and TJs baby carrots are pretty damn good, moist and sweet. You can always get a whole woody carot. Just depends.

    • Lute Nikoley says:

      The baby carrots you get at the store in little bags, are really mature carrots cut and peeled into baby carrots.

    • Baby carrots are far sweeter in taste to the woody carrots, if you are talking about real baby carrots – not the ones that are made from cutting and peeling with a sanding machine.

      Richard, the carrots I like are the ones that are the heirloom variety. They freak people out because they are all different colors. They are closer to what they should be, not the perfect orange specimens that look the same in every store.

      • Jason:

        I’m not too big on cooked carrots, except the ones I’ve had in French restaurants where they are the full baby carrot with a tiny bit of the green shoot left on and are cooked just to al dente in butter.

  4. A thick raw carrot, sliced into thin “chips,” makes an excellent non-grain delivery vehicle for some good fat-laden dip. For those days you just feel the need to munch on something…

    • Or. cut into chips and deep fried. Guess that is taking away what is good about them raw, but a good treat.

      Aren’t carrots terrible for your blood sugar though?

  5. Carrots are one of the few foods that I actively hate, along with olives. I remember low fat dieting years ago and trying to stomach handfuls of carrots in place of more calorie dense foods… bad times.

    • Funny, AC. Carrots are one of the few veggies I prefer raw, and it has a lot to do with crunch and texture. And I love olives of every sort. I still stick the black pitted ones on the ends of my fingers, just like when I was a kid.

      • chris pale-o says:

        you’re not a kid anymore? great job rich

      • Actually, it was a bit of exaggeration. I don’t actually put them on the ends of my fingers anymore, but what was funny is that just a couple of days ago my wife opened a can of black olives to snak on on and she asked “did you used to put them on the ends of your fingers?” like, who didn’t? :)

  6. Hi Richard,

    Nice to hear about the positive impact that some raw veges in your diet is having (hehehehe). My advice to you is to make sure you don’t eat them in your cold tub while reading Jack Kruse’s blog, and make sure you space them apart far enough that you don’t suffer a blood sugar spike. One carrot top every 5 days should be ok provided you do 50-100 daily prostations to Dr Eades and Gary Taubes all the while screaming (I am a true Low Carb High Fat Paleo man at heart and I am so very sorry for my indiscretions) and to make matters worse, I have been reading Anthony Colpo and blogging about it. Forgive me, for I have sinned.

    It seems to me that the term “superfood” in part (beyond the obvious anti-oxidant rankings and the vitamin and mineral make-up of certain food types with a superior profile) has been hijacked by extreme exclusion diets such as the raw vegan diet. The hilarity to me is that they judge certain foods that are “permitted” based on the degree to which they can actually replicate the protein make-up of foods meat “bannned’ – case in i.e. chia seeds being positioned in the broader marketplace as an ancient grain superfood with a “complete protein” profile) consequently achieving superfood status. Fucking meat is bad for you right, and give it to me raw baby, but eating this fucking vegetable right here will give you 1/20th of incomplete protein for the same calories as a sauteed chicken breast, and wel all know about them gorillas right?

    Despite all the lines in the sand, and the points of difference amongst dieters and dieting groups, it seems that where some bloody consensus lies is in the importance of incorporating vegetables in the diet. The preparation in terms of raw versus cooked vegetables to optimise availability of vitamins and minerals (and including certain types of fats eaten as cofactors to optimise vitamin usage), oxalates in some veges and their associated risk for mineral absorption, anti-nutrients etc is where debate still remains fierce.

    My favourite raw food blended slush I try and eat every night which is prepared for convenience and refrigerated for a few days – (spinach, kale, carrots, red capsicum, celery, tomatoes, onion, cabbage, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and cold pressed olive oil, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and gound flax seeds blended in a blender) sits happily alongside a decent portion of steamed broccoli flodded with butter and celtic sea salt, roast potatoes in a jacket or rice and huge huge serving of meat every night. I prepared this balance using the WHF website based on their panel of vitamins and minerals). Frozen berry, banana, coconut water and protein powder blended into an ice-cream, a multi, vit d, bone support supp and fish oil all follow.

    cheers Paul

    • Paul, you didn’t say how it tastes. :)

      Seriously, the best thing about your comment is that you clearly demonstrate you’re on your own, as I always say, and enjoying figuring it out on your own.

      Variety, baby,

      Be well,

      • Hi Richard,

        I have learnt that the true value of independence from reading your blog, life is too short for diet dogma (-:

        Surprisingly, tastes quite fine, lemon and balsamic tend to overwhelm the other flavours, and digests really easily. I often break 22 hour fasts with it (-:.

        right back at you.

        Paul D

    • I don’t know about your hippie-ass slush, but it reminds me that it’s turning into gazpacho season, huzzah! Often rather similar to what you list there, depending on what’s in the fridge, except I don’t see sriracha anywhere. What are you you some sort of wimp?

    • It’s funny, but after 2 years of paleo I am starting to do the same things you are doing: Frozen Berry/creamed coconut/banana/protein powder smothie, bone broth daily and I have been wanting to add a green smoothie for nutrients. You’ve inspired my to use the blender to make my own V8 if you will. Thanks

  7. The number one way to get your children to despise vegetables. Feed them raw carrots and celery.
    I much prefer mine turned into mush in a slow cooker for atleast 8 hours

  8. Sid,

    Mine actually eat both raw, and yes, slush also works a treat. I am a man of a great many slushes.

    The challenge is getting bloody bread and cake out of their diet as much as is possible and finding ok substitutes. Kale chips have been one thing – thanks to the raw food vegans for this.

    Cheers Paul

  9. halotek says:

    Interesting stuff on carrots — I always have thought good things about carrots.

    As you well know, butyric acid is a beneficial fatty acid — but we have to be careful to draw conclusions about the difference in the short chain fatty acids vs the medium and long chain.

    I’m interested to see how the data in time comes out.

  10. So Richard, what’s up?

  11. I have to make a long drive every week and I have trouble with eating junk food when I am driving, so I started eating the baby carrots, up to two pounds of them in four hours. You eat two pounds of carrots and potato chips don’t seem so appealing.

    • If you’re going to be on the road for a *very* long time, eating something that makes you poo *a* *lot* is not a good idea.

      Hard-boiled eggs, jerky, cheese and/or peanuts will satisfy you during the drive without making you want to poo. Save the carrots for when you arrive at your destination.

      • I have the alimentary canal of a silverback gorilla, I can hold it in for hours at a time, my friends call me the “Poo Master.”

      • As someone who grew up in the American southwest and basically wasted a lot of their youth driving in a car, I can assure you that crapping is far from the limiting factor when driving long distances.

      • What do you do when you need a crap but there’s no facility for crapping?

      • That happened to me a couple of weeks ago after I had a pizza for dinner and went running the next morning. There were some trees outside a gated community and it was dark so I just dropped trou and hope nobody mistook me for a bear.

        I’ve been having a pizza every other week but the next day it’s five trips to the bathroom in the space of three hours, can’t digest wheat any more.

      • That’ll happen when you avoid it for a long time. I went on a streak where I ate a large pizza every night for 2 weeks. (yes, a whole pizza). Can tolerate anything now.

      • Corey

        I think you’re bright eyed about opportunist Stone.

        Consider this. I could eat pizza and burgers for 20+ years, no prob. Then I got fat. LC Paleo fixed that. Yea, I can now have a pizza or burger & fries and I’m ok, but I don’t do it all the time because I’ll get fat again.

        The biggest problem with Stone’s psycodousche is that he preys on those who can better tolerate crap because they have not been eating it for years.

        He’s a snake oil fraud.

    • Rob,

      Awesome, substituting carrots for junk, bravo!!!!

      Being satiated makes cravings far less of a hassle.

      I simply down a double espresso and drink a lot of water, no cravings with approach, though on your drives you may want to keep a bottle (hahaha)

      Paul D

  12. “I’m soundly and reflexively opposed to the notion of “super foods”

    Then..

    “There are only a few “super foods,” and liver tops the list.”

    So which is it Richard?

  13. My n=1 carrot observation — before I went 100% gluten free, while in my 3-year GI issue time period, eating baby carrots would give me a horrible stomach ache for hours. After I went gluten free, no more carrot-induced stomach aches. This was in the stomach too, not the intestines. I’m not sure how to explain that but I’m glad to have baby carrots back as a choice.

  14. Regarding the title of that study, there are tons just like it but with a replacement of the words “raw carrot.” You can find something similar with whole [grain], apples, almonds, etc.

    • “whole [grain]”!?

      Blasphemer!

    • Actually, the full text of the study discusses the difference in results for studies of bran fiber (no impact on cholesterol, no increase of fat in the stool, as I recall). That said, I would not be surprised to see similar findings with other fibrous raw fruit & veggies.

  15. on the liver side of things, i hold my breath to insure that organ meats stay under the radar. i can get a meal’s worth of grass fed beef liver for 79 cents. so, yes, everyone, eat carrots.

    • The only way you can buy my silence about GF beef liver is if you tell me your source. Otherwise, I’ll launch a nationwide campaign extolling the virtues of GF beef liver and prices will go through the roof!

      Nothing can thwart my diabolical plan, nothing! Bwaaaaahahahahaaa.

      *ahem*

      • Galina L. says:

        I get a grass-fed beef fat for free from our local food store because I regularly buy their meats and especially organ meats ($3.99 per lb for liver). The rest of customers (and the butcher himself) are afraid of eating fat and they have to trim the it off and then put it in a garbage bin.

      • Galena

        Ignorance is a double edged sword. Good for you that you benefit from it.

        Let’s all keep her secret.

  16. I neither love nor abhor raw carrots, but it’s a bit of a drudgery for me to eat them. I was going to mention blending one in a smoothie but it looks like someone already did. That said, I’m not a low-carber so my smoothies are off limits to many here and I won’t horrify anyone with the other fruits I use.

    I will say that relatively low-carb strawberries tend to dominate and can mask some less-than-appealing things in smoothie. And I’m growing my own Stevia leaves this summer to add both a green and a sweetener.

    • What I’ve found is that there’s great variation in raw carrots, from dried & curled sticks to the pretty awesome baby carrots that are moist & slightly sweet. For me, increasing enjoyment is about really chewing them well so that by the time you swallow there’s not even small chunks left. Each chew is a bit more of that carroty sweetness. Not sure where it falls in the carb content realm, but I’d imaging somewhere between fibrous fruit like apples, and fibrous veggies like cauliflower and broccoli.

  17. I’ve been buying a 5lbs bag of carrots every couple/few weeks for the last couple of months.

    I must say, carrots are damned delicious.

  18. Luke Terry says:

    Richard,

    It seems that many “mundane” vegetables & common plants have some pretty awesome abilities when consumed in quantity, and in the right context.

    Celery, for example, is well-known to reduce blood pressure when consumed in quantity. Broccoli & cruciferous veggies are known to treat PMS, taken in quantity. The info on these are ubiquitous if you spend a few minutes with Uncle Loogle, so I won’t disdain to include links.

    This one, however, is novel, so I’ll include a link, you and the Leangains crowd might find it entertaining/useful:

    http://www.ergo-log.com/onionjuice.html

    Keep up the great work,

    LT

    • Wow. Are there any studies of this in humans?

      • I googled it a bit and no.

        It seems like it’s been common knowledge in bodybuilding circles for a few years now, and while various individual experiments are mentioned I can’t seem to find any results.

        The obvious problem is that rat != human, and the dosage required for a human might be much higher. Also, you typically don’t intubate yourself to eat, so who knows what sort of confounding effect that has.

      • Yeah, I spent some time with the Google Machine myself and found the same conclusions…or more accurately, lack of conclusions.

        I also learned that either a lot of people out there are bad at math, or I don’t fully understand the problem. While rat =/= human, a lot of people messed up the simple calculation of what the appropriate similar dosage (1g/1kg body weight) would be if we assumed that rat = human. In my case, we’re talking about ~75g of onion juice, which seems like a completely reasonable thing to consume.

        (That said, I haven’t actually tried to consume ~3 oz of onion juice. It could be similar to a recent thought I had of “just how bad could immersion in 50 degree water be? That’s not even close to freezing.”)

      • I can think of worse things than drinking 75g of onion juice every day….but most involve medieval torture or prisoner of war camps.

        I wonder if you could put whole onions into smoothies with tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables? I think I could tolerate a salsa/V8 type smoothie much easier than onion juice. But maybe there’s something inherent in the onion juice so the pulp is just a waste when it comes to affecting T-levels.

    • Wow. So that explains my perpetual woody.

  19. Bought a 1 lb bag of baby carrots at lunch today. I don’t really like them, but I can’t stop eating them either.

  20. Whenever I eat raw carrots I end up with raw carrot chunks in my poop the next day. 200 grams of raw carrots doesn’t sound like a fun time for me. :(

    I do like the taste though, so sometimes I eat them anyway. Sometimes I hate you normies and your digestive tracts.

    • pfw. Why expect your digestive tract to do what you were consciously unwilling to do?

      Chew them. Don’t swallow until there are no chunks.

      Duh.

      • I do that, and it comes out the other end in the same form.

        Unless you chew each carrot for over a minute, you won’t be swallowing a pure mash, and there will be chunks.

        Duh.

      • What, cat got your teeth? I maintain that they can be chewed to total, complete pulp. But, it does require conscious intervention because you’ll naturally get the urge to swallow before hand. At least i do.

        No Carrot Chunks In Your Shit!

      • Great, now you tell me. Two pounds of baby carrots later.

        Guess now I have something to look forward to tomorrow.

      • Whoops.

        *ONE pound of baby carrots later.

      • LOL

        You’ll be fine. Well, worst case you get some cramps, but if you have an otherwise normal digestive tract there shouldn’t be an issue.

        My deal is that I have a bowel disorder and too much fiber always leads to issues, so I tend to be careful around raw vegetables. They inevitably come out the other end more or less intact, along with some nice gas and if I’m lucky a bout of cramps.

      • The hydrogen measurements suggest that gut flora is altered significantly. Perhaps in a favorable way, over time.

    • What exactly is the problem with carrot chunks in your shit? I can see a problem if you are shitting entire carrots, but unless you have an unusually tight sphincter the chunks should not be painful. Forgive me if you have a medical condition that prohibits you from shitting carrot chunks, but other than that I can’t think of a problem other than purely aesthetic concerns.

      • Have crohn’s, will travel. To the toilet. Eating too much raw veg excites my gut, leading to all manner of excretive excess and gut melodrama.

        I did get a laugh out of “aesthetic concerns”. Good line.

      • It’s mostly tongue in cheek rob. On the other hand, chunks probably mean those weren’t digested. Given the alternative, I’d rather have more complete digestion. That’s what molars are supposed to assist with.

  21. raw carrots and grapes have become two mainstays for part of my lunch. as I’ve increase fruit and veggie intake, I’ve been losing the lbs. I like to tease my vegan teenaged daughter that I’m 80% vegan. And I’ve noticed, no shit, that my near sightedness is improving.

  22. I LOVE carrots. Raw, cooked, doesn’t matter. I love raw celery too. Excellent dip vehicles, both of them.

    But I HATE olives. It’s more texture than anything, I think, because I like olive oil.

  23. You all are too funny!

    I eat raw carrots every day on an empty stomach (per Ray Peat) near the end of my 16-hour Intermittent Fasting. Paul Jaminet (Perfect Health Diet) says they remove toxins. I’ve read elsewhere that it’s best to eat them unpeeled – more nutrients – per the Carrot Museum in UK. Yep – Carrot Museum!

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