Article image

Baby carrots: Snack your way to better health

A recent study led by Samford University has found that consuming baby carrots just three times a week significantly boosts skin carotenoid levels in young adults. This increase is even more pronounced when combined with a beta-carotene multivitamin

A spectrum of health benefits

Carotenoids – the bright red, orange, and yellow pigments responsible for the vibrant colors of many fruits and vegetables – offer numerous health benefits.

These plant-based compounds can be measured in the skin, reflecting the level of fruit and vegetable intake. 

Carotenoids are linked to enhanced immune function, increased antioxidant protection, and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Simply adding baby carrots as a snack can notably raise skin carotenoid accumulation.

The baby carrot effect

“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. 

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

Focus of the research 

The experts randomly assigned 60 young adults to groups receiving different four-week interventions: Granny Smith apple slices (control group), 100 grams of baby carrots, a beta-carotene multivitamin supplement, or a combination of carrots and the supplement. 

The researchers measured skin carotenoids before and after the intervention using a noninvasive “VeggieMeter.”

Baby carrots boost skin carotenoids

The analyses revealed a 10.8% increase in skin carotenoids for the group eating baby carrots and a 21.6% increase for those combining carrots with the supplement. There were no changes in the control or supplement-only groups.

“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.”

The future of carotenoid research

The lack of impact from multivitamin supplementation alone suggests potential differences in how carotenoids are absorbed, whether they are food-based or from supplements. 

Encouraged by these results, the research team plans to delve into the mechanisms behind these findings and study the effects of other carotenoid-rich foods, like sweet potatoes or leafy greens.

The research was presented at NUTRITION 2024, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.


Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter for engaging articles, exclusive content, and the latest updates.

Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and


News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day