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Which is healthier: carrot cake or fruit cake?

a fruit cake and a piece of carrot cake

Unsure about whether to opt for carrot cake or fruit cake? Find out which is a healthier choice with expert advice from dietitian Juliette Kellow.

Carrot cake

Carrot cake usually contains more saturated fat than fruit cake thanks to the frosting, which is typically made from cream cheese. The higher fat content also means it’s higher in calories. Carrot cake is lower in fibre, so may not be as filling. While it doesn’t contain as much potassium or iron as fruit cake, it does have four times more vitamin A – a slice provides a fifth of our daily needs for this nutrient. This is simply because carrots are one of the richest food sources of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.

Fruit cake

Fruit cake contains a little more sugar than carrot cake but a good proportion of this comes from the natural sugars in the dried fruit. While the body processes these in the same way as white or brown sugar, they come packaged with several other nutrients, including fibre to help fill us up, and potassium, which, when combined with lower salt intakes, helps to control our blood pressure. Dried fruit also adds a hit of iron.

And the winner?

Both have positives, so choose the one you prefer, but remember that both are treats that should be enjoyed in small amounts. Stick to 70g slices (that’s considerably smaller than the slabs you usually get in coffee shops!) If you choose fruit cake, skip those with marzipan and icing, which push up sugar and calories. Try making your own healthier versions.

Try our tasty carrot cake and fruit cake recipes.

First published: Feb 2019
Last updated: November 9, 2021
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