The popular one-pound bags of small carrots you find in grocery stores — often labeled “cut and peeled baby carrots” or “baby style” — are basically just as nutritious
as other carrots. They are just regular carrots that have been peeled, washed and chopped into two-inch pieces to create easy-to-eat finger food. Often a slender, slightly sweeter carrot is used to make
them, said Sherilyn Curti, consumer relations coordinator for Grimmway Farms, which sells over a million pounds of these “baby” carrots a day.
Like all orange carrots, baby carrots are loaded with beta carotene, the antioxidant pigment that gives them their color and protects cells throughout the body from damage. The body converts beta carotene into
vitamin A, which we need to maintain eye health, the immune system and healthy skin. A three-ounce serving of carrots contains 120 percent of the vitamin A you need in a day, 10 percent of the vitamin C,
2 grams of fiber, no fat and only 35 calories.
Because they’re peeled, baby carrots require refrigeration and have a shorter shelf life, Ms. Curti noted. And some of the nutrients in the skin — basically the same nutrients as inside the carrot — may be lost as well, though some studies suggest that cutting or grating carrots actually enhances their antioxidant capacity.
“Wounding” fresh produce “sends a signal to the cells, which perceive that as if they were under attack or facing adverse conditions,” explained Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, author of
one such study and director of the Plant Bioactives & Bioprocessing Research Lab at Texas A&M University in College Station. “As a result, oxidative stress increases in the cell,” he
said, and cells “start synthesizing antioxidant molecules to protect the cell from that stress.”
Certain strains of miniature carrots, typically served whole with their greens attached in high-end restaurants, are bred to be harvested when they’re small. These mini-carrots are slightly less nutritious
than regular table carrots, containing about 20 percent less vitamin A and half the vitamin C of regular carrots, said Vandana Sheth, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But again,
the nutrient difference is unlikely to have much impact on overall health.