All the amazing health benefits of Carrots
It is safe to say that nearly all of us are aware of the fact that carrots are healthy. Like the proverbial apple a day, carrots are one of those foods we are taught to eat as children. They are a feature of kid’s snacks. Kids know some of the health benefits of carrots.
In recent years, carrots have turned up in all kinds of healthy foods and healthy snacks. Even fresh juices now contain carrot juice extracted from state-of-the-art juicing machines. From childhood to old age, most everyone understands the health benefits of carrots.
Carrots also taste good. It is not difficult to convince us to eat carrots because they are great refreshing things to eat. They cook well in a variety of ways. From simply steaming them to candied recipes, carrots are a fine addition to many foods.
But there may be more to the humble carrot than many of us are aware. Carrots have some specific health benefits. Some of these health benefits may be surprising. Just how healthy are carrots? What can we get from including more carrots in our diet? And what are the best ways to eat carrots? This guide will give you all the information you need to understand the amazing health benefits of carrots.
What are carrots?
Carrots are scientifically called Daucus carota. They are part of the Apiaceae family. This family of plants also includes celery, parsnips, parsley, dill, caraway, anise, and fennel. The domestic carrot as we know it originated in Central Asia. Wild carrots are indigenous to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. We are most familiar with the bright orange variety of carrots, but they are also white, purple, and red.
Carrots are high in beta carotene and several other important nutrients. They are also a great source of dietary fiber. Now grown commercially throughout the United States, carrots are now widely available in any supermarket. Baby carrots were originally cut from misshapen carrots but are now cultivated and harvested as immature carrots.
Carrots nutrition facts
Serving size: 1 large carrot (about 8" long)
- 30 calories
- 7g carbohydrates
- .68g protein
- <1g total fat
- 0g saturated fat
- 2g fiber (8% DV)
- 3.41g sugar
- 50 mg sodium
- 230mg potassium (7% DV)
- 9mg magnesium (2% DV)
- 4.2mg vitamin C (7% DV)
- 14 ug folate
- 12028 IU vitamin A (241% DV)
- .48 mg vitamin E (2% DV)
- 9.5 ug vitamin K (12% DV)
Of particular notice are the vitamins and minerals that carrots contain. These include:
- Vitamin A: Carrots are loaded with beta carotene. When we eat carrots, our bodies convert beta carotene into vitamin A which is essential for growth, development, and immune function.
- Biotin: This used to be called vitamin H. Biotin is essential for fat and protein metabolism.
- Vitamin K1: This is necessary for proper blood coagulation and bone health.
- Potassium: An essential mineral, potassium helps regulate blood pressure.
- Vitamin B6: Part of the range of B vitamins, B6 helps convert food into energy.
Carrots are known to contain high concentrations of carotenoids. Carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds, meaning they are best absorbed with fat. Unlike some protein-rich foods and vegetables, cooking and chopping carotenoid-rich foods increase the strength of the nutrients when they enter the bloodstream.
Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants, among other things. These naturally occurring chemicals found in carrots are known to fight cancer and other diseases that can come from chronic inflammation.
What are the health benefits of carrots?
With all of these important vitamins and minerals, carrots offer several important health benefits. These include:
Helps fight cancer
Foods that include carotenoids like beta carotene are known to help fight cancer. Carrots have been scientifically shown to help prevent or fight prostate, colon, and stomach cancers. Research has also shown the women who eat a diet that includes plenty of carrots have a reduced risk of breast cancer.
The carotenoids in carrots are powerful antioxidants. Due to the kinds of foods we eat today, our bodies are frequently hit with what are called free radicals. These are chemical agents in the body that seek to bind with organic compounds like those in our cells. Because these free radicals tend to damage the cells they come in contact with, this can lead to the development of cancer cells.
The antioxidants in carrots bind with and eliminate free radicals and thereby greatly reduce the risk of cancer.
High cholesterol significantly increases your risk of heart disease. It is well-established that eating carrots greatly reduces blood cholesterol levels.
Doctors have been recommending a diet of high nutritional fiber for decades to help fight high cholesterol. Carrots are naturally high in fiber and can significantly lower your bad cholesterol. A simple snack of carrots may be all you need to bring your cholesterol levels to healthy values.
Helps you lose weight
Carrots are a great low-calorie snack. They help you feel full and prevent snacking on things that put on pounds. Doctors have long recommended carrots as a snack to help people lose weight.
Carrots help you feel full, so you are less likely to snack on high-calorie foods. Rather than reaching for things like potato chips, have cut carrots on hand to snack on.
Great for your eyes
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to things like night blindness. The carotenoids in carrots make for a fantastic source of vitamin A which helps improve eyesight. It is also now known that eating carrots can help reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Carrots contain large amounts of vitamins A and C. These are both antioxidants and protect immune cells from damage.
Carrots are also high in vitamin B6 which works to optimize the immune system. A vitamin B6 deficiency will lead to a compromised immune system.
Consuming carrots has been shown to increase the production of immune cells called lymphocytes.
May improve the health of your skin
Carrots contain vitamin C. This is a water-soluble nutrient necessary for the production of collagen in the body. Since collagen is one of the things that provide elasticity to the skin, the vitamin content of carrots is now thought to be useful for preserving healthy and youthful skin.
The antioxidant beta-carotene so prevalent in carrots is also valuable for protecting your skin from sun damage that can lead to premature wrinkles and even skin cancer.
Types of carrots
As mentioned above, carrots are not one simple thing. There are a variety of types of carrots, many of which have become increasingly popular. Some things to consider when choosing carrots include:
These are carrots grown without pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Organic carrots will not appear quite as uniform and perfect as regular carrots. Organic carrots have all the powerful nutrients and other beneficial contents without any of the dangers of things like pesticides and herbicides.
While organic carrots may lack the perfect shape and may not have the uniform color we are accustomed to with carrots, they are healthier than conventionally grown carrots.
These are still nutritionally sound. The problem with conventionally grown carrots is that, since carrots grow slowly and compete with faster-growing weeds, farmers need to use things like herbicides and other chemicals. This results in large and well-shaped carrots, but they may have been exposed to chemicals that can be potentially dangerous.
Modern controls on food tend to reduce the levels of dangerous chemicals that can make it to the market with foods. Nevertheless, conventionally grown carrots are exposed to chemical agents that can be dangerous.
In some cases, baby carrots are the immature roots that are harvested while still small. Most often, baby carrots are just regular carrots that have been cut and shaped. Some baby carrots are sweeter since they have been specially cultivated to be harvested while small.
How to consume carrots
The best way to consume carrots is to simply wash them and eat them. That said, carrots are extremely versatile as a food source. There are numerous ways to consume carrots, from raw to juiced, carrots are an easy, delicious, and healthy addition to your diet.
Carrots can be consumed completely raw, and many people consider this to be the best way to eat carrots. You should always thoroughly wash raw carrots. Even though modern farming methods make raw carrots safer than ever, they are root vegetables and need to be washed and patted dry before consuming them.
You can eat carrots as they are, cut and in salads or all kinds. Shredded raw carrots make a fine addition to all kinds of salads and on cooked dishes to add texture and flavor.
Carrots can be cooked in all ways. We are likely all familiar with steamed carrots. These can be herbed and dressed with butter or non-dairy butter. Carrots can be added to stews and braised meats. Carrots can also be used to sweeten other dishes. An old trick to use finely shredded carrots to sweeten tomato sauce. Carrots can be candied and baked. This is not the most nutritious way to eat carrots since the added sugar does counter some of the health benefits of carrots.
In recent years, people have taken to consuming carrot juice. Juicing carrots properly requires a juicing machine. There are numerous versions of juicers on the market now that can get you on your way to making fresh carrot juice.
Carrot juice provides all the health benefits of fresh carrots. All the nutrition and additional health properties of carrots are retained in juicing. Carrot juice is also delicious. Carrot juice makes a great alternative to juices that are loaded with added sugar.
You can mix carrots with fresh fruit for any combination that is appealing to you. Mixing carrots with other sweet root vegetables like beets provide even more health benefits.
You can buy a juicer to make carrot juice at home. There are also numerous prepared carrot juices available in supermarkets and online. Some of the best juice combinations that contain carrot juice are available from Spartan Detox.
Carrots side effects
There are no real side effects of carrots. However, there are other things to consider if you are eating carrots. Allergies are fairly rare, but they do occur. Carrots can trigger pollen-related allergies in up to 25 percent of people.
This is an example of what is called cross-reactivity in which the proteins in some fruits and vegetables cause an allergic reaction in people who have an allergy to pollen. If you are sensitive to birch pollen or mugwort pollen, you may suffer an allergic reaction to carrots.
The most common allergic reaction to carrots is itching or tingling in the mouth. However, because this is a pollen allergy, it can trigger anaphylactic shock. Since carrots are roots and grown directly in the soil, there is also the danger of contamination. Contaminated water that contains substances like heavy metals will concentrate on carrots and other root vegetables. This is a sound reason for consuming organic carrots whenever possible.
And again, always take care to properly wash carrots and all fresh fruits and vegetables to remove any other contaminants that may come from being in direct contact with the soil.
When it comes to eating healthy foods, we often get caught up in researching the newest things to hit the supermarket. We tend to overlook the things we think we know best. This may be the case with carrots. The simple and common carrot is something of a superfood.
Carrots provide a wide range of nutrition. From vitamins and minerals to cancer-fighting carotenoids, carrots are a powerful part of our diet. Carrots can help you with everything from eye health to regulating blood pressure. Carrots are also great for helping you lose weight and keep it off.
Raw, cooked, or juiced, carrots are simply delicious. There are more ways to prepare and consume carrots than we could list. Simply cut them up as snacks to replace unhealthy snacks. Steam them and dress them in herbs. Or juice carrots for a delicious and amazingly healthy juice that is both refreshing and filling.