Can a raw carrot salad a day keep the doctor away? Yes, according to the latest viral trend sweeping TikTok, which purports that tossing shredded root veggies with some vinegar, oil, and a few other ingredients will help balance hormones, aid digestion, and may even cure migraine.
The hashtag #rawcarrotsalad has amassed over 22 million views, with some videos demonstrating how to make it topping one million views. “It’s the salad that changed my life,” TikToker Chloe Roehrig claims in one of them. Another user, Paige Nicole, claims she has seen a “huge difference” in her hormonal acne, “especially right after my cycle.”
Many of the videos credit the salad to Ray Peat, PhD, “who found that there was a unique fiber in carrots, which helps bind excess estrogen in the body and eliminate toxins,” explains Sam Wolk, who credits herself as a nutritional therapy practitioner, in a video. While videos touting the health benefits of the salad have been circulating on TikTok since the summer of 2021, there has been a post-holiday resurgence in recent weeks.
Does raw carrot salad live up to the hype, and should you consider incorporating it into your daily diet? We asked experts for their take on the viral diet trend.
What Experts Say About Raw Carrot Salad
Of all the health claims being made about raw carrot salad, one of the biggest is that it helps regulate the hormones.
“Carrots offer fiber, which is good for your gut — and your gut microbiome is a regulator of estrogen,” explains Jackie Newgent, RDN, New York City–based plant-forward culinary nutritionist. As for the special type of fiber claimed by Peat, Newgent has never heard of it nor is there substantial scientific evidence to suggest that raw carrot salad specifically offers any hormone-altering benefits.
There are about 2 grams of fiber in a medium carrot, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and fiber is a nutrient that is known to help promote a healthy digestive system. “Specifically it may help slow down digestion when consumed and may help reduce risk of constipation,” says Keri Gans, RDN, a nutrition consultant in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. Fiber can also help promote satiety, which assists weight loss or maintenance.
As for migraine relief, don’t expect carrot salad to offer much help. “There’s nothing unique to a raw carrot salad that will ease a migraine,” says Newgent. Carrots do contain carotenoids and anthocyanins, so could be part of an antioxidant-rich diet, which can play a role in reducing oxidative stress. That reduction, in turn, may offer potential benefits for curbing migraine, according to a study published online in January 2020 in Antioxidants (Basel). But on their own, carrots do not offer migraine relief.
Does Eating Raw Carrot Salad Pose Any Risks?
While carrots might sound perfectly healthy (and usually are), the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC) recently responded to the viral carrot salad trend, warning of a few potential risks.
For one, eating too many raw carrots can actually turn your skin orange due to their high concentration of carotenoids, plant-based pigments. “If you eat way, way too many carrots, the most common problem would be that your skin may temporarily turn a little bit yellow-orangish due to beta carotene, a naturally occurring pigment in carrots,” explains Newgent. This would likely involve eating the equivalent of 10 to 12 carrots daily for at least 10 to 12 days, which can more easily occur if you are juicing carrots rather than eating them raw, she says. While a “harmless” condition, the yellow-orange skin discoloration can appear on the palms, soles, and other areas of skin with lots of sweat glands, and will go away when you stop eating them.
The other risk is a condition called phytophotodermatitis, according to the NCPC. Carrots, along with limes, parsley, celery, and parsnips, contain a compound called furocoumarins. When juices from the fruits or vegetables combine with UV light, like sunlight, this compound can react with human skin and cause rashes, swelling, and blistering. “The blistering can be quite painful, and severe cases may require hospitalization or treatment with steroids or burn dressings. In some cases, permanent scarring can occur after the blisters resolve,” the NCPC explains. Newgent notes that this is very rare.
Also, while a raw carrot salad can be a great side dish, “unto itself, it does not provide enough calories or protein for a main meal,” notes Gans.
Should You Try Raw Carrot Salad?
Carrots, like most vegetables, are a nutritious food and should definitely be included in a healthy diet, and a raw carrot salad can be a new, tasty way to enjoy them, Newgent says. But there’s nothing magical about raw carrot salad that offers any health benefits beyond what you find in carrots themselves, and whatever dressing you use. If the dressing you toss them in contains fat, such as olive oil, for instance, beta carotene consumption will be enhanced, research shows.
Additionally, too much of a good thing — in this case, carrot salad — can backfire. So enjoy it like all things, in moderation. If you’re interested in giving it a try, here is a version developed by Everyday Health staff dietitian Kelly Kennedy, RDN.