Carrots are perhaps the single best way to flood your skin with antioxidants and vitamins with no hidden catch. They’re bursting with acne nutrition yet have almost no downsides when eaten.
There are many foods which you can take advantage of for acne. Eggs are a good breakfast food for supplying your skin with the strengthening proteins it needs. If you still believe that benzoyl peroxide is your only hope then understand now that the foods you eat are ten times more important than hygiene. But few foods compare to carrots in the huge quantities you can eat, again and again.
Carrots can decrease your skin’s oil production. They protect your skin from UV rays, they can improve your natural skin tone. There’s even strong evidence that carrots can slow ageing.
Read on to find out why feasting on carrots is one of the best and easiest nutritional hacks for acne available.
Carrots are extremely nutritious but close to zero calories
In most respects, the carrot is only a moderately nutritious vegetable for acne. It contains 10% of the daily allowance for vitamin C per 100 grams of raw slices; that’s nothing compared to broccoli with 148%. There’s only 3% of the RDA for magnesium and 3% of the allowance for vitamin E. The zinc content is 0mg.
But where the carrot beats almost all other foods is in its content of plant-based vitamin A and carotenoid antioxidants.
One cup of chopped carrots weighing in at 128 grams contains 428% of the RDA for vitamin A. All of it is in the form of plant-based carotenoids, and they have a dual function – functioning as some of the most potent antioxidants known to mankind. Carrots contain a variety of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin.
How does vitamin A work? Other vitamins are just as valuable for acne; vitamin E ends clogged pores while vitamin C is involved with skin protein construction. Vitamin A, however, is the top vitamin found in nature for oily skin. Molecules of vitamin A bind to specialised receptors in the sebaceous glands, downregulating their output.
The end result which you see in the mirror – less clogged pores and acne.
Carrots deliver all this in spades. You might be wondering why carrots are superior to sweet potatoes (283% of RDA), pumpkins, kale or spinach. The answer is what makes carrots truly exceptional: they contain almost no calories.
A cup of carrots contains only 53 calories, and better yet, a good 7 don’t actually function as calories because they’re from fiber. The real count is more like 46. It’s commonly believed that 1 gram of fiber contains 3.75 calories; it actually contains 1.75. You can eat almost endless amounts of carrots without getting fat.
Consider sweet potatoes. They’re one of my favourite skin-clearing foods precisely because of their vitamin A. However, their calorie count is in the hundreds; I recommend them most strongly as a heavy starchy carbohydrate for after the gym or for your daily energy requirements. If you have 100 calories to spare in a day before obesity suddenly kicks in, you can add nearly 300 grams of carrots.
Carrots are also highly convenient. Sweet potatoes have to be roasted in the oven for 35 minutes for optimal taste. Kale must be steamed for 5 minutes, and still doesn’t taste great.
Carrots meanwhile, can be chopped up and added to a salad, soup, or eaten on their own. They taste perfectly fine and you can gnaw on a whole carrot while on the move, like a rabbit.
All these factors combine to make eating carrots one of the greatest hidden secrets for acne.
The acne powers of carotenoids
The vitamin A content of carrots would be enough for acne, but the carotenoids double their power.
The type of vitamin A in carrots is plant based carotenoids, pro vitamin A compounds which have to be converted to active vitamin A before they improve acne. Out of 600 plus carotenoids identified in nature so far, only a fraction are able to be converted – like beta carotene, alpha carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. The rest remain behind to function as antioxidants, keeping your sebum strong and preventing free radicals from mutating it.
Many carotenoids in carrots clear acne in the normal antioxidant way, including lutein and lycopene. But even better is that carotenoid antioxidants can enrich your skin beyond the bread and butter powers of normal plant antioxidants:
Skin tone – carotenoids were shown in this study to accumulate in human skin when eaten in the diet, and contribute measurably and significantly to healthy human skin colour. This one found that carotenoid consumption contributed towards skin yellowness, or the much coveted “glow”.
35 people ate a variety of fruits and vegetables in this study; the scientists concluded that fruit and vegetables rich in carotenoids could cause perceptible improvements in skin tone in just six weeks. They deemed that the number of fruit and vegetable portions needed to make your skin more attractive was 3.3.
This study tested two specific carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. The study was randomised, double-blind, and tested against a placebo, the gold standard of research. 50 healthy people were fed either a lutein/zeaxanthin supplement or a placebo.
After 12 weeks, overall skin tone was significantly improved in the carotenoid group. The conclusion: “L/Zi supplementation lightens and improves skin conditions”. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the most abundant carotenoids in carrots.
Slower ageing – research from South Korea found that doubling your intake of carotenoids was able to extend telomere length in DNA by 2%. Telomere length is one of the biggest factors in the ageing of skin. The specific carotenoids examined were alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Good news – carrots contain plenty of them all.
Resistance to sunlight – in the study on lutein and zeaxanthin above, the minimal erythemal dose increased significantly. The MED is a measurement of how long the skin can last in the sunlight before irritation and inflammation begins.
This review on carotenoids and skin overall concluded that they produce a measureable photo-protective effect against UV rays, which is closely correlated to levels in skin tissue. The result – less irritation to your pimples in the face of sunlight.
By eating more carrots you will achieve two things. Less oily skin and acne because of the vitamin A, and younger and brighter looking skin thanks to the carotenoids.
Carrots are one the safest vegetables for acne
Reinforcing these benefits is the carrot’s complete lack of any acne-causing side effects. In fact, compared with tomatoes or onions, very few acne-clearing enthusiasts report in with pimple outbreaks at all.
There are some fruits and vegetables which have proven benefits for acne but nevertheless have to be controlled. A classic example is pineapple, which enhances protein digestion but is moderately high in sugar.
Carrots, however, are completely safe. Speaking of sugar, carrots contain only 5 grams per 100 grams. After eating 600 grams of carrots you only accumulate 30 grams. What’s more, the sugar is molecularly bound to high quantities of fibre, 3.6 grams per 100 grams of carrot, which delays the absorption and minimises the acne.
Finally, carrot contains very few natural plant toxins like cucurbitacins in cucumber or tomatine in tomato, and those which do exist are extremely safe for acne.
Carrots contain myristicin, a psychoactive insecticide produced by plants to naturally ward off pests. Myristicin causes psychological symptoms such as euphoria and a feeling of irresponsibility when eaten. As well as carrots, myristicin is found in black pepper, dill, nutmeg and parsley. Myristicin is actually a precursor to MDMA; many ecstasy users are obsessed with getting high off nutmeg for that reason. The legends say that myristicin produces a “classical” psychedelic experience.
Overall, an overdose is said to feel similar to alcohol intoxication. However, there are negative side effects, one of which is nausea. The whole goal is to prevent you from eating the plant.
Can the myristicin in carrots cause acne? It doesn’t look like it. Many related natural plant toxins are able to increase inflammation, but myristicin has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Furthermore, carrots contain only low levels; the foodstuffs with the heaviest concentrations are nutmeg and mace. The verdict: safe for acne.
Other “toxins” in carrots are just as benign. Carrots contain oxalates, natural mineral binding compounds which cause inflammation and acne in susceptible people. However, carrots contain only microscopic levels compared to spinach or rhubarb, and even spinach only triggers acne in the sensitive.
Carrots, like parsnip, parsley and celery, are also a plant food which contains furocoumarins, compounds which increases sensitivity to UV radiation. Furocoumarins like psolaren are the reason why lemon juice is a terrible topical treatment for acne.
Luckily these effects only occur topically. At best you should ignore any corrupt skincare merchants trying to sell you a carrot cream or carrot ointment.
It’s clear that carrots are an acne-clearing opportunity waiting to be taken, with very few downsides at all.
The benefits continue
Do carrots have any other compounds or powers which wipe out acne? Their low levels of vitamin C are a bonus; 10% of the RDA or 6mg is beaten easily by strawberries with 97%, but it’s still enough for your intake to stack up fast if you eat them constantly. Vitamin C regulates stress hormones, which can make you unbelievably relaxed at doses above 1000mg, and is a cofactor in the production of the structural skin protein collagen.
What’s more, many individual forms of carotenoids have their own specific benefits. Carrots contain 1.22mcg of lycopene, a carotenoid most famously found in tomatoes but actually found in higher concentrations in watermelon. Lycopene is gaining popularity as a joint protecting supplement for exercise. Why? Because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Beta-cryptoxanthin, meanwhile, is a carotenoid used as an orange food colouring. However this study found that extra daily intake of beta cryptoxanthin equivalent to that found in a freshly squeezed orange was enough to prevent many inflammatory diseases (acne is one of them).
If you eat carrots with the intention to flood your skin with vitamin A, then you’ll get a bunch of other benefits as well.
Then you have the powers unrelated to acne. This study found that carrots led to improved night vision in women, while no other food rich in carotenoids did the same. This study found that the compound found in carrots called luteolin could reduce brain fog, protect neurons, and increase attention span. Carrots are extremely cheap and a great way to take your health and skin through the roof.
Secret trick – eat your carrots with avocado
The fact is that you’ll improve your acne simply by buying a carrot from the grocery store and biting into it immediately. But if you refuse to settle for anything other than maximum skin-clearing nutrition, there are three secret tricks to make what is already a secret trick even better.
Firstly, eat your carrot alongside fresh avocado. Carotenoids are fat-soluble antioxidants; they need fat both to improve your skin tone and to convert to vitamin A. You can use many staple fatty foods, from olive oil to grass-fed butter.
However, avocado was proven in this study to increase the absorption of carotenoids from fresh carrot juice 6.6 fold. Alpha carotene was increased 4.8 fold. What’s more, the conversion of carotenoids into active vitamin A shot up by 26%.
Combine your carrots into a salad with avocado for maximum benefit, or throw them into a dish with almonds, butter, olive oil, macadamia nut oil, or any fatty food. Remember the general rule – saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are far superior to polyunsaturated ones for enhancing absorption.
Next there’s the question of storage. You need to keep your carrots in a cool place to keep the nutrients from depleting but luckily, it isn’t that important. The vitamin which is most prone to depletion is vitamin C, in broccoli and lettuce, and it’s vitamin A which is our focus.
Organic vs non-organic
Finally, the organic vs conventional debate is more complicated with carrots compared to many foods, but still simple.
Carrots appear in neither the dirty dozen nor the clean fifteen of pesticide laced foods. The most common pesticide on them is linuron, found on 70.7% of carrot samples, which is linked to inflammation in humans.
Old orchard carrots are grown in old soil which was once blasted with arsenic pesticides; hence low levels of arsenic end up in the carrot. Arsenic causes acne by ramping up keratin production and binding dead skin cells together.
Another good reason to go organic is that organic carrots are also extremely cheap compared to other organic produce. Here in the UK you can buy 750 grams of conventional carrots for 45p and the same weight of organic ones for just £1.
However, peeling the carrot lightly will remove a vast swathe of the agrochemicals. Carrots grown in modern fields contain far less arsenic, low enough to detoxify easily. Unlike with broccoli or strawberries, the extra nutrients in organic carrots aren’t worth your while; there’s so much vitamin A already that an extra few milligrams gets lost in a sea of clear skin.
Overall then, you have nothing to worry about. If you have the money, just buy organic carrots and achieve peace of mind.
If you don’t, then wash and peel your carrots thoroughly. Make sure that your zinc and selenium levels are in check so that you can detoxify the contaminants easily.
Finally… that’s all you have to do. Carrots are nowhere near the worst food for pesticides; strawberries and apples have that honour. If there’s one secret trick you could use, you could peel an extra thick layer off the carrots to remove the last traces of pesticides. Carrots are so cheap that you could throw in a couple of extra ones to compensate for the lost inner flesh.
The truth is clear – carrots are one of the best secret foods for controlling acne, and in particular oily skin. If you’ve crafted an acne-friendly diet and carrots aren’t in there, you’re missing a big opportunity.
Add carrots to soups, salads, or eat them raw. The result? Less acne and a brighter and more youthful skin tone. The more the merrier. You won’t get fat, there’s no sugar, and there’s almost no risk of an inflammatory reaction.
You can eat three or four carrots per day for acne if you want. In fact, just one carrot, half a carrot or even a quarter of a carrot would be miraculous if your current diet is lacking in fruit and vegetables.
The only downside is that carrots might turn your skin orange. The old tales are true; the myth originated from the observation of a very real condition called carotenoderma.
Carotenoids improve your skin tone and attractiveness by slowly accumulating in skin cells. Take carrots to an extreme and that accumulation will give you a face the colour of a carrot.
Don’t worry though – proper carotenoderma is caused as much by inefficient metabolization of carotenoids as it is by eating too many. If you wake up with orange skin, cut down your intake slightly.
Are carrots a safe for food for acne? Yes, they’re only dangerous if you love having acne.
Thanks for reading!