Carrots (Scientific name: Daucus carota) are root vegetables that are usually orange but come in other colors as well, which include yellow, white, red, and blackish-purple. They belong to the family Apiaceae. Though they are native to Southwestern Asia and Europe, research claims that they originated from Persia.
The plant’s leaves are less consumed. They are extensively cultivated for their palatable and enlarged taproots. Since carrots are rapid-growing plants, most varieties mature within 3 months of planting the seeds. Besides offering a delicious taste, the nutrition and multiple health benefits of carrots is what makes this as an important vegetable to add to the daily diet.
Nutrients In Carrots
Carrots are loaded with a plenty of nutrients. These include α-carotene, β-carotene (both are forms of vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium, sodium, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, iron, copper, calcium, manganese, magnesium, dietary fiber, α-carotene, β-carotene, lutein-zeaxanthin, and crypto-xanthin-β.
10 Best Health Benefits Of Carrots
1. Good For The Eyes
Carrots are highly healthy for the eyes. It not only improves eyesight but also prevents a major age-related eye problem called macular degeneration. The nutrient that is often credited for healthy eye vision in carrots is none other than vitamin A.
The carotenoid beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) is demonstrated to lower the risk of macular degeneration by 40%. Beta-carotene has the ability to split itself through an enzymatic effect to form provitamin-A. The vitamin A is changed to rhodopsin (a biological pigment required for night vision) in the retina.
Know that deficiency in vitamin A causes trouble seeing in low light. However, carrots are enriched with an abundance of vitamin A to increase eye power and prevent night blindness as we age. So, make sure to eat them on a daily basis.
2. Promotes Glowing Skin
One of the best health benefits of carrots is the ability to promote naturally glowing skin. The nutrient vitamin A not only contributes healthy eyesight but also ensures that the skin glows naturally. Lack of vitamin A in the body leads to skin dryness, poor nails and hair.
When the body is fortified with adequate amounts of vitamin A, it prevents psoriasis, sunburns, acne, premature wrinkling, blemishes, pigmentation, uneven skin tone, and dark spots. According to this research, eating natural foods like tomatoes and carrots ensure that there is more golden glow.
3. Boosts The Immune System
Carrots are well known for their antibacterial and antiseptic properties, making it perfect for a healthy immune system. Carrots have vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin D in abundant quantities, all of which play a key role in maintaining the overall health of the immune system.
While Vitamin A controls the release of immune cells inside the gut, vitamin C assists in stimulating the activities of WBC (White Blood Cells), which is one of the most vital elements required by the immune system to fight against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign threats.
To a less extent, carrots also have other nutrients to boost the immune system. These include vitamin E (about 2%), copper (about 2%), and vitamin B6 (about 5% RDV in a big carrot).
4. Improves Digestion
Carrots are a good source of dietary fiber, which is one of the most significant elements for sustaining a healthier digestive system. Fiber helps in adding bulkiness to the stools and ensures that they pass smoothly via the digestive tract.
Fiber also encourages proper secretion of gastric juices and takes care of the peristaltic motions. Overall, consuming carrots on a regular basis reduces the risk of constipation and defends the stomach as well as colon from many serious illnesses like colorectal cancer. An added benefit of eating carrots is that it boosts the heart’s health by eliminating excess LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol levels from the blood vessels and arteries.
5. Controls The Blood Sugar Levels
Carrots help a lot in regulating the blood sugar levels naturally. This is mainly due to the presence of carotenoids in them. Carotenoids are known to inversely affect the insulin resistance. Also, the carotenoids in carrots regulate the glucose and insulin that is being metabolized and utilized by the body. Thus, lowering the elevated blood sugar levels and assisting a diabetic patient to lead a normal life.
6. Prevents Cancer
One doesn’t have to drink a glass of bitter wheatgrass juice to prevent cancer. A carrot a day is more than enough. According to The American Institute of Cancer Research, beta-carotene in carrots is proven to eliminate the oxidative stress that occurs in the cell membranes; thus, inhibiting the development of cancer cells.
According to British researchers, an increased consumption of beta-carotene, for about 1.7 – 2.7 mg a day can reduce the risk of lung cancer by 40% or even more. An average carrot has about 3 mg of beta-carotene. Also, carrots contain an organic compound named falcarinol, which helps in slowing down the expansion of cancerous lesions.
Besides lung cancer, the antioxidants in carrots wards off cervical cancer, gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and oral cancer.
7. Maintains The Oral Health
One of the incredible health benefits of carrots is the ability to keep the mouth healthy. The natural compounds and other antioxidants in them help in inducing excess saliva and stimulating the gums. Saliva, an alkaline substance assists in combating foreign bodies and bacteria; thus, resulting in healthier cavities. Also, it prevents halitosis (bad breath) and other oral problems.
8. Cleanses The Body
To keep the body clean and balanced, one of the must-have foods in the diet is none other than “carrots.” They help in breaking down all the toxins from the liver and release them rapidly into the kidneys and intestines for further elimination. Vitamin A in them helps the liver to flush out all the toxins while reducing fat and bile at the same time. The fiber in carrots cleans the colon and hastens waste movement.
9. Prevents Heart Strokes
A carrot a day lowers the chances of heart strokes by 68%. According to a research done at Harvard University, it was proven that people who consumed more than 6 carrots in a week were less prone to heart strokes than individuals who consumed only 2 to 5 carrots a month. Also, many stroke patients claimed that people with highest beta-carotene levels had the maximum survival rate. So, there are good reasons to munch a few raw carrots.
10. Sustains Normal Blood Pressure
So, the next time, you get angry about something or the blood starts to boil, just have a carrot. This is because carrots have enormous amounts of potassium, high enough to relax the stress and tension you experience.
The potassium in them acts as a vasodilator for the arteries and blood vessels, thereby increasing proper blood flow and boosting the organ functions in the body. Carrots have a compound called coumarin, which has been directly linked to reducing hypertension and further, protecting the cardiovascular system.
Side Effects Of Carrots
Every vegetable and fruit have its benefits and drawbacks. So, carrots are no exception. Too much of carrots can be highly dangerous to health. So, make a note of these:
- Excess consumption of carrots can cause skin discoloration. Since carrots are enriched with the carotenoid called β-carotene, they usually give the skin a normal, yellow tint. However, excess carotene leaves the skin to appear dark yellow or orange. This condition is called carotenoderma or carotenemia which usually happens on the palms, feet soles, face, and hands. However, the condition is not dangerous and is reversible, meaning one can start to look back normal if the carotene amounts are decreased.
- Carrots can cause allergic reactions if one is hypersensitive towards them.
- Carrots are not good for people who suffer from diabetes. The vegetable has a glycemic index (GI) of 97.
- Carrots can change the flavor of breast milk. So, it is not advised for nursing women.
The health benefits of carrots given above are presented to the readers after a deep research. There are some more carrot health benefits, which are not given here, as the article is limited to ten. If you wish to share about the other benefits of this vegetable, feel free to drop them in the comments section.
Credit: A part of image was taken from freepik.