Experts at Newcastle University found that carrots contain powerful cancer-busting chemicals.
It has been long accepted that carrots have health benefits for people, but this discovery will improve the knowledge and awareness of the health benefits of this group of root vegetables.
Natural compounds known as polyacetylenes protect the plant from attack by pests and diseases. This compound is only found in vegetables of the carrot family and a few other closely related species such as ginseng.
Positive effects have been found after feeding carrots in animal experiments, therefore it is important to test if it also works in humans.
It is particularly important to find out how many carrots humans must eat to obtain a health benefit.
Researchers have now launched a three-year study to measure the effects of root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and celery on cancer and inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
The study will be headed by a team of food chemists and doctors to recruit scores of volunteers to take part in a dietary trial.
The team will observe and investigate how much of the polyacetylenes are absorbed into the body when the vegetables are eaten raw, boiled or fried and in large or small pieces.
The water or oil in which the carrots have been cooked in will also be tested to see if there are any health benefits in re-using it in stews or soup.
This latest study is partially funded by the British Carrot Growers Association.
Previous studies have demonstrated that carrots also contain the anti-cancer compound falcarinol. Unfortunately falcarinol, similar to vitamin C and sugar, is soluable and lost when carrots are boiled.
Research in China has already shown that carrots can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 1/5. The study found that men who ate carrots at least three times a week were 185 less likely to develop a tumor.
In the US researchers found that women who ate at least 5 carrots a week were nearly 2/3 less likely to have a stroke than those who ate them only once a month.