They're one of the kid-friendliest vegetables around, yet there are still plenty of parents who wonder whether baby carrots actually "count" as a veggie—and plenty of wild rumors flying around the internet about whether there's something subpar (or even risky) about them. I talked to the folks at Bolthouse Farms, one of the largest farming companies that specialize in carrots, to get the truth. Here's what you need to know:
Myth: Baby carrots aren't "real" carrots.
Baby carrots are indeed carrots. Compared to the larger carrots they produce, Bolthouse Farms uses a different seed for growing baby carrots. The variety is especially sweet, grows longer and narrower, and has a small core. This carrots are picked when they're still young and tender, then cut into two-inch segments.
Myth: Baby carrots aren't as nutritious as larger carrots.
Baby carrots have the same nutritional perks. A serving of baby carrots provides more than a day's worth of vitamin A to kids, plus vitamin C, fiber, and even a little bit of iron and calcium.
Myth: Baby carrots are soaked in chemicals.
Baby carrots, like other kinds of produce, are washed after harvest in a water solution that does contain chlorine. But the amount of chlorine in the solution is actually much less than the amount of chlorine found in regular tap water that comes out of your faucet—the same water you use to rinse your produce too.
Myth: White spots on baby carrots are caused by bleaching.
You may see some baby carrots with white spots or streaks, but that isn't because of bleaching. Baby carrots are peeled so they're ready to eat, but that also makes them more vulnerable to drying out. Companies try to prevent that from happening by placing a little bit of water in the bags. But sometimes, baby carrots still dry out and appear white. If you soak the dry carrots in cold water for a few minutes, they'll rehydrate and the white, chalky parts will disappear.
Myth: Baby carrots have added sugar in them.
Yes, you will spot "sugar" on the Nutritional Facts Panel, as much as four grams (about a teaspoon's worth) per serving. But if you look at the ingredient list, there's just one ingredient (carrots!). The sugar in baby carrots is naturally occurring, the same kind of natural sugar that makes apples or snap peas sweet. It's not added sugar, the kind put in by manufacturers. Not only is natural sugar not something to worry about, it's also part of what makes baby carrots so appealing to kids.
Bottom line: Ignore the rumors. Baby carrots are an easy, convenient way for kids to munch on carrots and get their veggies. You can rest easy packing them in your child's lunch box. (Phew!)
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. She is the author of The Snacktivist's Handbook: How to Change the Junk Food Snack Culture at School, in Sports, and at Camp—and Raise Healthier Snackers at Home. She also collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. In her spare time, she loads and unloads the dishwasher. Then loads it again.