Carrot cakes are one of the world’s most popular desserts. People from all over the globe have their own version of the sweet treat.
They’re an amazing way to add a little extra vitamins and fiber into your diet. Although, that doesn’t necessarily mean the cake is good for you.
Aside from the carrots, we add ingredients like sugar and oil. Because of that, the dessert may not be as nutritious as you think.
So, at this point, you may wonder, is carrot cake healthy? If that’s the case, then we can help uncover the nutritional benefits of the dessert.
In this article, we’ll dive into the components of the cake and what they can do for you. On top of that, we’ll cover how to make the dessert healthier.
You can’t break down the nutritional value of a dish without talking about the ingredients. For a traditional carrot cake, you’ll need:
- 3 cups of grated carrots
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ cups of vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of salt
We mix all these components, then place them in a 375℉ oven for about 40 minutes. This results in a moist, fluffy four-pound cake with a fine crumb.
People have been debating the health benefits of carrot cakes for years. Some chefs think it’s the perfect alternative to decadent desserts, while others claim it’s not good for you.
To help you decide for yourself, let’s take a look at the nutritional value of the cake.
In this section, we’ll go over the characteristics of the dessert and its health benefits.
One of the main reasons people steer clear of cakes is the high sugar content. They’re incredibly calorically dense, which means they can contribute to weight gain.
Unfortunately, carrot cakes are no exception.
To help you understand this, here’s a quick look at some general sugar guidelines. On average, an adult male will need a maximum of about 38 grams of sugar.
That’s only around nine teaspoons.
As you can tell by the recipe, we add two cups of sugar to the batter. This roughly translates to 96 teaspoons of the sweetener.
On top of that, carrots contain some natural sugar.
So, the overall sugar content of carrot cakes is generally high. That means eating too much of this treat can wreak havoc on your waistline.
If you look at the recipe for carrot cake, you’ll see that it calls for a little over a cup of vegetable oil.
This helps bind the dessert and adds moisture and richness. Although, this ingredient increases the fat content of the cake.
Moving on, the recipe also calls for eggs. While you may not be aware, the yolks contain quite a bit of fat, too.
Because of that, every slice of carrot cake has around 10 grams of fat. That’s about a third of the recommended daily intake of an adult male.
This may sound like a small fraction, but it’s not.
Many people think of fat as the enemy. That’s especially true for individuals trying to lose weight.
Yet fat is an essential part of any healthy diet. You need a small dose to boost your energy levels and keep your muscles functioning normally.
So, when you get a third of the total intake in one slice of cake, you’ll limit what you can eat the rest of the day.
Growing up, many of us heard that carrots could give you night vision. While they can’t help you see in complete darkness, they can improve your eyesight.
That’s because carrots contain high levels of vitamin A. This can enhance your immune system, reproductive organs, and, of course, vision.
Other than that, the veggies contain trace amounts of vitamins C, E, and folic acid.
For that reason, carrots can be incredibly good for you. Although, this isn’t the case with carrot cake.
When you heat up vegetables, they lose a sizable percentage of their nutrients. They’ll degrade and change shape, which means we won’t be able to use them.
Aside from vitamins, carrots are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. This includes parts of the plant that the human digestive system can’t break down.
That means fiber will pass through your system relatively unchanged. Because of this, vegetables can help relieve constipation.
Besides that, dietary fiber can help you control your blood sugar levels. It can reduce the absorption rates of sugar.
This, in turn, will decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Plus, it can help people maintain their weight.
Lastly, fiber is an amazing tool to keep your cholesterol levels low.
Thankfully, dietary fiber isn’t as sensitive to heat as vitamins. For that reason, it can survive in the oven, even at high temperatures.
Now that you know a little about carrot cakes, we can compare them to other desserts. To do that, you should be aware of the caloric density of the treat.
Generally, a 100-gram slice of carrot cake will have about 64 calories. Although, this can change depending on the carrots and eggs you use.
The most basic dessert we can compare carrot cake to is a traditional vanilla cake. This confection uses butter instead of oil.
On top of that, it contains milk. For these reasons, the treat contains about 336 calories per slice.
As you can tell, this is much more than a piece of carrot cake. Besides that, the vanilla cake doesn’t include any of the vitamins or dietary fiber of carrots.
So, as a whole, carrot cakes are much healthier than vanilla cakes.
Ice cream is one of the world’s most popular treats. It can cool you down on a warm summer’s day, and it’s incredibly delicious.
Yet, it’s calorically dense. A 100-gram helping of ice cream contains around 196 calories. Aside from that, it can’t fill you up the way a slice of cake can.
So, carrot cake is the healthier option.
Even though carrot cakes are healthier than many other desserts, that doesn’t mean they’re good for you.
You still have to be mindful of how much of the treat you eat. Although, if you want to sneak in an extra slice, you’re in luck.
There are a couple of ways you can make this dessert a bit healthier.
For starters, you can substitute the vegetable oil for coconut oil. Not only will this reduce the fat content, but it’ll also give your cake a nice tropical twist.
Besides that, you can choose to swap out the flour for whole wheat flour. This will help you significantly lower your blood cholesterol.
If you’re wondering whether carrot cake is healthy or not, you’re in luck. There are a few aspects you need to examine to figure that out.
These include the sugar, vitamin, dietary fiber, and fat contents of the dish.
In total, a carrot cake slice will have about a third of your daily sugar intake. Yet, it also contains plenty of vitamins and dietary fiber.
If we compare carrot cake to other desserts, we’ll notice that it’s on the healthier side. For instance, it has far fewer calories than vanilla cake.
Although, that doesn’t make the treat good for you. To ensure that it’s as healthy as possible, make sure to use coconut oil and whole wheat flour.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.