Myth or fact? Nutritionists weigh in on the #rawcarrotsalad trend

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#Rawcarrotsalad has 8.6 million views on TikTok, with many users alleging that eating the salad daily has helped balance their hormones.

In particular, influencers and everyday users of the app are saying that one of the salad’s main health benefits is lowering levels of estrogen, a hormone linked to reproductive and sexual development, mostly in women.

“This has definitely become a staple in my diet for balancing the excess estrogen that can peak at different times in my cycle,” Paige Nicole, a TikToker, said in her videos about raw carrot salads.

Other users say they’ve also seen a change in liver and thyroid function. And some even attribute the veggie dish to their weight loss.

The many raw carrot salad recipes on the app typically include additives like olive oil and apple cider vinegar — two ingredients that have proven health benefits of their own.

But with anything that goes viral on the internet, it is important to know if the science supports the claim.

Here’s what nutritionists say about the trend and whether or not eating raw carrots can aid in hormonal balance.

Can #rawcarrotsalad really balance your hormones?

There aren’t any in-depth studies that examine the impact of raw carrots on estrogen levels specifically, says Sue-Ellen Anderson Haynes, a registered dietitian nutritionist and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Your gut is one of the principal regulators of circulating estrogen in the body, according to a review published in Maturitas, an international journal for post-reproductive health.

So, eating fibrous foods around your menstrual cycle, when the highest levels of estrogen are produced, can be useful.

“It turns out that this ‘eating raw carrots’ TikTok trend has some truth to it because eating fibrous, raw foods can help your gut to release this extra estrogen,” says Anderson Haynes. “The good bacteria in your gut uses the fiber and converts that to substances that enhance gut, reproductive and overall health.”

The gut has microbes that release enzymes to break down estrogen, and if the enzymes aren’t released, the estrogen isn’t broken down, she says.

When estrogen is not broken down and excreted, it builds up and can increase your risk for endometriosis, PCOS, cancer and infertility, she notes.

But some of the videos on TikTok specifically speak to individuals with estrogen dominance — higher levels of estrogen in comparison to progesterone which is a hormone associated with menstrual cycles and pregnancy.

Raw carrot salad “wouldn’t necessarily work for estrogen dominance unless the reason why you’re estrogen dominant is because your estrogen is outright high,” says Melissa Groves Azzaro, a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in hormone balance, fertility and PCOS.

These are three possible causes of estrogen dominance, according to Groves Azzaro: your estrogen levels are high, your progesterone levels are low in comparison to estrogen or your estrogen is being detoxed down a less helpful pathway.

“Carrots are not going to help raise progesterone levels. You wouldn’t necessarily notice an impact,” she says.

No, carrots are not the best veggie for hormone balance

“The raw carrot salad trend falls into the category of not necessarily harmful, [but] probably not super beneficial,” Groves Azzaro says.

While fibrous foods like carrots can be helpful for people with abnormally higher levels of estrogen, it is not the only, or even the best, vegetable for regulating your hormone balance.

“They’re probably tenth on the list,” Groves Azzaro says, “It’s all of the cruciferous veggies that lower estrogen. I typically recommend one to two cups of cruciferous veggies a day.”

Groves Azzaro recommends eating these cruciferous veggies and other foods daily for hormone balance:

  • Broccoli sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Radishes
  • Collard greens
  • Cabbage
  • Turnips
  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Flax seeds

“It’s not one food that we’re eating or one supplement we’re taking or one specific lifestyle change that’s making a difference,” she says.

“It’s got to be about the overall consistent actions that we’re taking day-to-day.”

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