Sometimes there are studies that make you go “Whaaa?” For me, that occurred recently when I read a March 2011 report from Evolution and Human Behavior claiming that found consuming carrots and tomatoes increased the attractiveness of 51 Caucasian patients.
Why Pigmentation from Carrots is More Attractive than a Tan from UV Light
As study leader Dr Ian Stephen, Ph.D. of the School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus tells Science Daily: “Most people think the best way to improve skin colour is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective…We found that, given the choice between skin colour caused by suntan and skin colour caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin colour, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin colour, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.”
Carotenoids are organic pigments at are naturally occurring in plants and some other photosynthetic organisms like algae, as well as some fungi and bacteria. While there are over 600 known types of carotenoids, all are known to absorb blue light, effectively making the skin appear more orange/yellow after regular consumption. Four carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin) have vitamin A activity in humans, and also act as antioxidants. Increased carotenoid consumption has been associated not only with younger looking skin but also longer life span, according to research from the British Journal of Nutrition. Other natural sources of carotenoids besides carrots include yellow and red peppers, spinach, apricots and melons.
However, surprisingly, beta-carotene supplements have been associated with an increased risk of death, as research revealed in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals, though this is likely to be due to the inclusion of smokers in the study.
How Many Carrots Do You Need?
In the study, a spectrophotometer was used to replicate carotenoid consumption after two months’ of regular carrot consumption versus a suntan. Across the board of 51 subjects, skin tone that replicated increased carotenoid consumption were more attractive than that of a tan.
The Result? A 24 Carrot Complexion
(That was bad, I know…) Unfortunately, I’m not the biggest carrot fan in the world. I personally would rather gnaw on some fruit, if not some cheese, at a party. Alas, if you want to get the maximal amount of carotenoids from your vegetable consumption, you need to eat some carrots. I found this nifty website, Carrot Recipes.net (no, I’m not joking) with some neat ways to literally spice up your carrots. Pureeing the carrots in a blender and including them in sauces and soups is another way to maintain the carotenoid content without sacrificing taste.
Have a delicious carrot recipe? Have any thoughts on the study? Let us know in Comments below!