Carrot Salad and Hormones
“Thanks to the Ray Peat carrot salad, this simple combo of a shredded carrot, coconut oil, vinegar and sea salt, has helped thousands of women (and men!) across the world experience better digestion and a major reduction in estrogen accumulation issues.”
I’ve had a flood of people asking me about Ray Peat lately, and while I’ve been super busy with my Eating After 40 course, I knew I had to take the time to review this person, his nutrition views and how he influenced a viral raw carrot salad trend. #rawcarrotsalad, y’all!
Peat has gained a cult following with TikTok influencers and middle-aged bloggers alike, with his simple carrot salad that, he proclaims, cures everything from thyroid dysfunction to PMS.
Problem is, human physiology and health aren’t that simple.
Also, am I nuts, or does this guy remind you of the Medical Medium?
Who is Ray Peat?
While he publishes an online blog, Dr. Raymond Peat has no published research studies, nor does he reference relevant or up to date studies in any of his writing. His PhD was on age-related oxidative changes in the hamster uterus, was defended in 1972.
Working through the articles on Peat’s website is like doing an ultramarathon through quicksand. Actually, the ultramarathon would be preferable to reading Peat’s solid text block word salads with outdated research and lots of scientific mumbo jumbo.
The vast majority of the citations Peat uses to back up his claims are rat and cell studies, and most are extremely outdated (many from the 1960’s). Some read like this:
Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2011 Dec 22. Bioenergetic Origins of Complexity
and Disease. Wallace DC. “The organizing power of energy flow is hypothesized to be
the origin of biological complexity and its decline the basis of “complex” diseases and
It seems as though Ray Peat’s assertions are more like theories that he has dreamed up.
Are we on the same planet here?
You’ve got to ask yourself, in all the years this man has been collecting a cult following on the internet, has anything he has claimed actually been proven to improve the outcome he said it will? Where are his own good-quality studies that he has had more than enough time to do?
I’m pretty sure if asked, he would give the standard ‘because the conventional medical community is corrupt’ answer. Right.
In his post about cancer, Peat states that sugars are better for our immune system than starches, that fish oils ‘kill cancer,’ and that saturated fats ‘calm’ cancer cells.
Nope. No food kills or calms cancer cells, and like I’ve mentioned in other posts, claims like these anger me so, so much.
Followers of the Ray Peat diet eat a ton of fruit, and now I know why: he’s a huge fan of fructose.
He pontificates in one of his posts that starch is an inferior source of carbs to fructose:
Starch and glucose efficiently stimulate insulin secretion, and that accelerates the disposition of glucose, activating its conversion to glycogen and fat, as well as its oxidation. Fructose inhibits the stimulation of insulin by glucose, so this means that eating ordinary sugar, sucrose (a disaccharide, consisting of glucose and fructose), in place of starch, will reduce the tendency to store fat. Eating “complex carbohydrates,” rather than sugars, is a reasonable way to promote obesity. Eating starch, by increasing insulin and lowering the blood sugar, stimulates the appetite, causing a person to eat more, so the effect on fat production becomes much larger than when equal amounts of sugar and starch are eaten.
What sort of fever dream did I just read? Disaster.
This brings to me the main issue with the Ray Peat diet: it doesn’t actually exist! There are just vague ‘recommendations’ that his followers (often devout to the point of being cultlike) glean from his writings.
There are hundreds of online forums online in which people try to interpret what exact the Ray Peat diet is. They literally have no idea what he’s talking about, but they’re still following some sort of Ray Peat plan.
There are pages and pages of threads with people who apparently have nothing better to do with their time other than argue about things like whether or not Ray Peat thinks potatoes are healthy to eat.
‘I saw him say that they’re healthy!’ ‘I heard him say that we should only be drinking potato water!’
If you can’t understand the guy, why are you listening to him? Welcome to the post-truth era!
I finally came upon some dietary recommendations in one of Peat’s posts:
A daily diet that includes two quarts of milk and a quart of orange juice provides enough fructose and other sugars for general resistance to stress, but larger amounts of fruit juice, honey, or other sugars can protect against increased stress, and can reverse some of the established degenerative conditions.
Refined granulated sugar is extremely pure, but it lacks all of the essential nutrients, so it should be considered as a temporary therapeutic material, or as an occasional substitute when good fruit isn’t available, or when available honey is allergenic.
It blows my mind that on one end of the spectrum we have people who are saying that refined sugar, juice, and dairy are ‘toxic,’ and at the other end, we have Ray Peat.
Needless to say, they’re both on the wrong side of science.
Is the ray peat raw carrot salad healthy?
Peat claims that his raw carrot salad lowers excess estrogen. This has been traced back to a blog post on Peat’s website where he claims that eating a raw carrot daily cured his migraines, and shares stories of women in his life suffering from PMS were also helped (reference free!)
Currently, there are plenty of influencers pushing this stuff. Some of them claim to be certified holistic hormone specialists – a credential that is definitely not legit in any way – and all of them are unqualified to be giving any sort of nutrition advice.
I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: when you hear anyone say that a food can ‘balance hormones,’ be very skeptical. ‘Hormone balancing’ is a wellness industry darling, but it’s a meaningless term often thrown around by people who barely even know what a hormone is.
One of the responsibilities people have when they make bold claims, such as Ray Peat’s carrot salad and its supposed estrogen detoxing and ‘balancing’ effect, is the burden of proof. This burden of proof SHOULD be achieved through high quality, repeated, scientific study, not a blog post with citations from rodent studies done in the 1960s.
I’m also going to go out on a limb here and say that if someone is recommending something on social media or anywhere, they should be able to explain the mechanisms by which this recommendation works.
‘Because, like, it detoxes your estrogen during your, like, luteal phase’ is not an adequate explanation.
Fibre and estrogen.
There are two types of fibre: Soluble and Insoluble. Most fibre containing foods have a mix of both.
Insoluble fibres do not dissolve in water. They help to increase stool bulk and may improve constipation and promote a healthy digestive system and regular bowel movements. Insoluble fibre is found in the skins of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and wheat bran.
Soluble fibre helps to slow the digestion of food. It attracts water and turns it to gel. In turn this can help lower blood cholesterol levels and control blood glucose levels.
Large, reputable studies have shown low fibre diets are associated with an increased risk of some cancer types, including colorectal. Soluble fibre is found in oat bran, barley, psyllium, nuts and seeds, and dried beans and lentils and some vegetables and fruit.
FYI: Ray Peat theorizes in one of his blog posts that lignins, a fibre in flax seed, cause cancer. This claim is entirely without merit.
Half a cup of carrot (raw or cooked) provides 2.2-2.3 grams of fibre – a combination of both.
Some studies theorize that fibre interferes with the absorption of estrogen into the blood and may reduce risk of breast cancer.
But listen up: 2-3 grams of fibre isn’t detoxing you from anything. Carrot salad is a sham.
Interestingly, a study on fat and fibre intakes and sex hormones among premenopausal women in the US suggest that dietary fat has a greater influence on estrogen metabolism than does dietary fiber. Needless to say, the jury is out.
The cult following behind the Ray Peat carrot salad claim that carrots balance our hormones because they contain a special kind of fibre that specifically carries estrogen out of our bodies.
It is unclear which type of fibre the Ray Peat cult influencers are referring to, as no one seems to have any clear answers. They all have slightly different variations of the salad, and of the ‘facts’.
Either way, the fibres in carrots are pectin, cellulose, and lignin. The same ones that are in broccoli.
When will the #rawbroccolisalad bandwagon begin? I’m in!
Is estrogen harmful?
Ray Peat doesn’t say it directly, but he implies that estrogen is bad.
Excess or unopposed estrogen has been shown to be hazardous. We have good evidence that unopposed estrogen is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. However, there do not appear to be any reputable studies linking carrots (or any one food), specifically, to a reduction in estrogen. While some people make too much estrogen, unopposed estrogen – and its issues – mainly come from estrogen supplements, not our own bodies.
Estrogen is also protective in many aspects. It is known (based on multiple high-quality studies) to be essential to women’s reproductive function, to promote bone health, reduce to the risk of heart related events, and (superficially!) to mask the effects of aging on skin, hair, and nails.
Vilifying a normal hormone and attempting to correct it with little scientific basis is misinformed and dangerous to women.
Ray Peat carrot salad: yes or no?
Sure, if you like. Just don’t expect it to fix all your problems. And please, don’t waste your time trying to decipher the extremely high-sugar Ray Peat diet.
Until we have definitive research, there are no magic dietary fixes for hormones. In fact, there are other factors (and here) which can impact estrogen levels in the body, besides just nutrition, including physical activity level, alcohol consumption, and excess body fat.
There is no one food (or salad) that will eliminate or improve a health symptom. Food is not medicine, and your overall diet contributes to your health status, not one meal.
Carrot salad is nutritious – it contains fat from the oil in the dressing, along with fibre, and some vitamins (beta carotene, converted by our bodies into Vitamin A) and minerals from the carrot. If you like it and want to include it as part of a meal, it certainly has a place.
However, the problematic cult personality and lack of physiologic logic (see how it’s literally in the word), about how this salad will help you, is dangerous and a slippery slope. Additionally, the monotony of eating same thing every day can create an unhealthy relationship with food.
Dietary fibre diversity is key! Food sources of fibre need to be varied within and across all plant-based food groups, including whole-grain cereals and cereal products, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Co-written by Lise Wolyniuk