Are carrots healthier unpeeled?

Eating vegetables is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet. Carrots are a popular vegetable that can be eaten in many different ways. Some people prefer to eat carrots unpeeled, believing that leaving the skin on makes carrots more nutritious. But is this true? Are carrots actually healthier unpeeled?

Nutritional differences between peeled and unpeeled carrots

Carrots contain a number of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that provide health benefits. The nutrition in carrots comes from inside the root as well as the outer peel. Here is a comparison of the nutrition found in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw peeled carrots versus 3.5 ounces of raw unpeeled carrots:

Nutrient Peeled carrots Unpeeled carrots
Calories 41 52
Protein 0.9g 1.2g
Carbs 9.6g 12.1g
Fiber 2.8g 4.6g
Fat 0.2g 0.3g
Vitamin A 835μg 1107μg
Vitamin C 5.9mg 6.5mg
Vitamin K 13.2μg 17.6μg
Potassium 320mg 415mg

As the table shows, unpeeled carrots contain more fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants compared to peeled carrots. The additional nutrition in unpeeled carrots comes from compounds found in the outer peel. Carrot peels contain vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols.

Potential benefits of eating unpeeled carrots

The extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in carrot peels may provide some additional health benefits when carrots are eaten with the peel on. Here are some of the top potential benefits of unpeeled carrots:

  • More fiber – Carrot peels contain a significant amount of fiber. The extra fiber can help improve digestive health and promote regularity.
  • Higher antioxidant levels – Carrot peels are concentrated sources of antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. These antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress and lower inflammation in the body.
  • More vitamin C and vitamin K – Eating carrot peels provides larger amounts of immune-boosting vitamin C and bone-supporting vitamin K.
  • Additional minerals – Leaving the peel on also provides more beneficial minerals like potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Overall, the additional nutrition found in the peels may contribute to better health by improving antioxidant status, lowering inflammation, promoting heart health, boosting immunity and supporting healthy bones.

Downsides of eating unpeeled carrots

While carrot peels add nutrients, there are some potential downsides to leaving them on:

  • Pesticide residue – Carrot peels may contain higher amounts of pesticide residue compared to the flesh. Washing well can help remove some external residues.
  • Higher fiber content – The extra fiber in peels may cause digestive issues like gas or bloating for sensitive people.
  • Texture – Some people find the texture of carrot peels unpleasant or too fibrous.

If you choose to eat carrots unpeeled, look for organic varieties when possible to minimize pesticide exposure. Peeling carrots may be better tolerated for those with digestive issues. The skin can also be removed if the texture is unappealing.

Tips for eating unpeeled carrots

Here are some tips for incorporating more unpeeled carrots into your diet:

  • When cooking carrots, leave peels on for roasting, boiling or steaming. The peels can be removed after cooking if needed.
  • Always wash carrots thoroughly before eating, especially if eating them unpeeled.
  • Try shredding carrots or grating them into slaws with the peels left on.
  • Add unpeeled carrot sticks to soups, stews, casseroles and stocks.
  • If carrot peels are too fibrous raw, cook them to soften the texture.
  • Baby carrots often have thinner, more tender peels that don’t require peeling.

Are organic carrots healthier?

Organic carrots are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or other chemicals. For this reason, organic carrots may provide some health advantages:

  • Lower pesticide residue – Organic carrots test lower in pesticide residues according to research.
  • Higher antioxidant levels – Organic carrots contain higher levels of some antioxidants like polyphenols and vitamin C.
  • More nutritious soil – Organic farming techniques build healthier soil that may lead to slightly increased mineral levels.
  • Environmental benefits – Organic carrot farming practices help conserve water, protect soil health and promote biodiversity.

While nutritional differences between conventional and organic carrots are relatively modest, organic remains the healthier choice for reducing exposure to synthetic chemicals from pesticides.


Leaving the peel on carrots provides extra fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants compared to peeled carrots. The additional nutrition in carrot peels may provide benefits including improved digestive health, lower inflammation and better antioxidant status.

However, carrot peels may also contain higher pesticide residues. Washing well and choosing organic carrots can help minimize exposure when eating unpeeled carrots. While carrot peels provide added nutrition, peeling them continues to be fine for those who find the texture unappealing or experience digestive issues from the extra fiber.

Incorporating more unpeeled carrots into your diet by roasting, steaming or shredding them with peels on can provide a simple way to increase your nutrition. But peeled or unpeeled, carrots remain a healthy, versatile and delicious vegetable to include as part of an overall balanced diet.

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