Carrots have been sought after by many hoping to cure themselves of a wide range of ailments. With benefits ranging from improving skin complexion to curing heart disease, carrots are certainly a nutritional powerhouse that one won’t want to overlook.
Carrots have been extensively studied for many years because of their proposed nutritional benefits. Of particular interest has been beta-carotene, an antioxidant present in carrots that’s responsible for its orange pigment. Beta-carotene is hardly the only responsible nutrient, though - carrots are jam packed full of nutrients, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and different antioxidants. All of these contribute to their health benefits in a number of ways, and we’ll get into more detail about how to maximize these nutrients for the most benefit.
1. Carrots have a great nutritional profile
Carrots are top-notch in terms of the amount of nutrients packed inside of them. They are particularly high in vitamin A - in fact, they’re the second highest provider of vitamin A in the world, second only to sweet potatoes. Here’s a more in-depth look at some of the most prominent nutrients in carrots, and a bit of information about what they can do for your body.
Vitamin A - 113% of your daily recommended intake per 100 grams (D.R.I.)Vitamin A is an important nutrient for maintaining the health of your eyes, keeping your skin healthy, and helping your body maintain blood pressure and immune function.
Biotin - 20% of your D.R.I.Even at only 20%, carrots are the 8th most significant provider of biotin that you can find. Biotin is particularly useful for maintaining blood sugar and promoting the health of your skin.
Vitamin K - 18% of your D.R.I.Vitamin K is a crucial nutrient in ensuring that your body maintains its ability to promote blood clotting - the good kind of blood clotting, which helps your body seal wounds.
Molybdenum - 14% of your D.R.I.Molybdenum is a very important nutrient in that it maintains a proper balance of sulphur in your body. Sulphur is actually extremely important for your body to maintain proper health. Sulphur helps our body produce its own natural antioxidants, and build strong connective tissues.
Potassium - 11% of your D.R.I.Potassium is a nutrient that’s largely responsible for helping your body maintain a normal, healthy level of blood pressure. In doing this, it also takes a lot of strain off your kidneys and can improve their functionality and health
Vitamin C - 10% of your D.R.I.While not particularly high in vitamin C, even 10% of your daily need for this vitamin can have a positive impact. Vitamin C acts as its own antioxidant, preventing free radicals from forming. It also helps protect and strengthen the skin, and ensures proper brain function.
Vitamin B6 - 10% of your D.R.I.Along with the rest of the B complex, vitamin B6 plays many roles in proper support of health. This particular B vitamin helps your body produce red blood cells, helps the nervous system function properly, and helps with the metabolization of carbohydrates.
These aren’t all the nutrients present in carrots, either - just the ones present in the densest concentrations. Carrots also contain notable amounts of manganese, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, pantothenic acid, copper, phosphorous and folate. The combination of these nutrients makes carrots extremely helpful at fighting a number of illnesses and diseases, and reducing the symptoms of diseases that may already be present.
Conclusion: Carrots have a huge variety of nutrients available, and are among the highest sources in the world for vitamin A and biotin. This nutritional combination makes them very effective at fighting a number of illnesses.
2. Carrots are great at helping maintain eye health
Carrots are good at fighting certain types of degenerative eye diseases - in particular, something known as macular degeneration. The macula is an oval-shaped, pigmented area near the center of the eye, and is responsible for the clearest vision a human can see. Thus, macular degeneration is hugely detrimental to a person’s vision.
Beta-carotene, one of the phytonutrient antioxidants that carrots have in high amounts, is known to fight macular degeneration. Study subjects who consumed high amounts of beta-carotene were up to forty percent less likely to develop macular degeneration when compared to a group that consumed minimal amounts of the nutrient.
Furthermore, beta-carotene can be considered a pro-drug for vitamin A. This means that, during metabolization, beta-carotene is turned into vitamin A. Vitamin A is actually a broad term that describes a whole bunch of micronutrients - and carrots contain several of these, which makes them an unbeatable source for this vitamin. Vitamin A fights bad vision by helping improve night vision, which has been shown to occur in greater frequency among people who are deficient in vitamin A.
Carrots contain two potent phytonutrient antioxidants: lutein and zeaxanthin. These particular carotenoids are selective antioxidants that target the eyes in particular. This further helps reduce macular degeneration or other age-related eye problems that are caused by oxidation. Most types of diseases that occur with age are due, at least in part, to oxidation - this is why antioxidants are so popular. They quite literally make people live longer, by limiting the damage that time naturally causes to the human body.
Conclusion: Carrots are great to help improve eyesight - like the old rumours suggest. It does this with two nutrients - beta-carotene, and vitamin A. Both are known to be effective at improving eyesight, and limiting the effects of age-related eye illness.
3. Carrots have an incredible mix of antioxidants
Carrots have a couple unique methods of fighting disease. One of these methods combination of antioxidants in the vegetable, which work together to have even more powerful of an effect versus diseases and pathogens. Here are some of the most powerful, potent antioxidants you can find in carrots.s
Vitamin C counts not just as a vitamin, but an antioxidant as well. It has many powerful effects, and can bolster your body’s ability to absorb and use other nutrients.
Beta-carotene, the pro-drug of vitamin A mentioned earlier.
Alpha-carotene, a nutrient that functions similar to beta-carotene but is only about half as potent. Still, contained in the same vegetable as beta-carotene, the two work together to bolster the carrot’s incredible vitamin A content.
Beta-cryptoxanthin is a carotenoid that's often found in fruit, but is also present in carrots. It’s also present in the human bloodstream and in our tissues, making regular consumption of this nutrient necessary for maintaining strong connective tissues and healthy blood flow. Alp
Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment. It’s found more densely in tomatoes, but carrots still provide a significant amount of lycopene. It’s known to prevent heart disease, hardening arteries, and various types of cancer. Some claim it also contributes to carrots having a positive effect on vision. It prevents oxidation at a cellular level, in various types of bodily tissue.
Lutein is another carotenoid nutrient, closely related to beta-carotene. Lutein is sometimes referred to as the eyesight vitamin, because it’s so efficient at helping prevent macular degeneration and other types of eye disorders, including cataracts and retinitis. Additionally, it’s known to help fight against cancer and prevent diabetes from reaching stage 2.
Zeaxanthin, along with lutein, are two of the only antioxidants that are actually present in the tissue of the eyeball. Deficiency of these two nutrients can lead to eye disease. A healthy balance of these antioxidants also helps to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays produced by the sun, and high enough levels helps improve vision in dim light.
Hydroxycinnamic acids, including caffeic, coumaric, and ferulic acids, which can help your body maintain proper blood pressure.
Anthocyanins, including cyanidins and malvidins, which are helpful in restoring and maintaining regular bodily functions.
All these antioxidants work together to create a powerful alliance that battles cancer, protects against deteriorating vision, and can combat a host of other health defects. It’s important to understand exactly which antioxidants do what, so you can cater your diet to include vegetables high in specific antioxidants that target specific illnesses.
Conclusion: Carrots have a very dense antioxidant profile. These antioxidants are some of the most effective at helping maintain proper eyesight - in fact, carrots have both of the only two antioxidants that are present in the tissue of the human eye. This makes them vital for those hoping to maintain their vision for longer.
4. Carrots help your body fight cancer
Carrots have been shown to effectively fight a number of different types of cancer. Regular consumption of carrots was shown to reduce the chances of developing lung cancer by up to three times. Consuming carrots was also linked to decreased chances of rectal cancer. Impressively, they were also shown to reduce the chances of developing leukemia.
Some research suggests that it is the beta-carotene content of carrots that has such a huge effect on cancer. It is shown that increasing beta-carotene consumption from 1.7mg daily to 2.7mg decreased the chances of getting lung cancer by almost 50 percent.
There is ongoing research into carrots and their effects on fighting cancer. Carrots contain many different antioxidants, and each antioxidant targets free radicals in their own way - meaning that there are likely other sources of nutrition present in carrots aside from beta-carotene that helps fight cancer.This means that, with a varying antioxidant profile, these nutrients will target specific tissues or organs and work to dismantle free radicals there. Having an effective defense against cancer means that you must be well-supplied with different antioxidants - this way, you will be able to dismantle free radicals all over the body instead of just in certain places.
Conclusion: Carrots contain quite a few different antioxidants that can work to prevent cancer in different parts of the body. This makes carrots a very valuable resource for those hoping to avoid the disease.
5. Carrots help your body organically produce retinoids and carotenoids
Vitamin A - like several other nutrients, say vitamin “B” or folate - actually describes quite a large array of different nutrients. There are two separate groups of compounds that are referred to as “vitamin A,” which are retinoid and carotenoid compounds. The functions of the retinoids and carotenoid families vary.
Carotenoids are efficient at helping the body regulate its immune system, maintain a healthy blood pressure level, and function as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.Carotenoids are also helpful for allowing effective communication between cells. It is speculated that cells that are incapable of communicating properly might lead to cancer - without proper communication methods, cells will not be able to protect themselves against a proliferation of damaged cells. Cells reproducing damaged DNA can cause cancer.
Retinoids are hugely important in improving vision. The human retina contains a set of cones that store vitamin A. One of these cones contains rhodopsin, which is a pigment responsible for people maintaining proper sight. Retinal, a specific retinoid found in carrots, helps the retina produce healthy amounts of rhodopsin. Retinoids are also potent anti-inflammatory agents that improve the immune system. Furthermore, retinoids ensure that cells are able to grow quickly.
Understanding this is crucial to deciding which foods to consume for the benefits you desire. For example, one hoping to improve their eyesight would need to consume a healthy amount of retinoids. These are the family of vitamin A nutrients that maintain the health of the eyes. Despite vitamin A being well-known for improving vision, it is possible to consume vitamin A from a source containing no retinoids, that will not benefit your eyes much at all.
Retinoids are typically only found in animal foods. This initially sounds like bad news for vegetarians, but the human body can turn carotenoids into retinoids under healthy circumstances. However, ideal circumstances can be incredibly hard to balance in the modern diet - things that prevent a healthy conversion of retinoids to carotenoids are common. These include digestive issues, imbalances of vitamins, medication or alcohol uses, excessive or limited intestinal flora… the list goes on.
Conclusion: Vitamin A is actually composed of two separate classes of nutrients - retinoids and carotenoids. Many people must acquire their retinoids through animal products, but healthy people can meet the criteria to convert carotenoids properly without animal products. They can benefit from the entire array of vitamin A’s benefits.
6. Carrots can prevent the onset of heart disease
Carrots contain very high amounts of antioxidants that target the cardiovascular system. They lower the amount of oxidative stress placed on the heart, greatly hindering the onset of oxidation-related illnesses.
Carrots also work to limit the amount of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. LDL is the bad type of cholesterol - low-density lipoprotein. LDL cholesterol is highly responsive to oxidation and can thus leave a trail of damage anywhere that it gathers up. Carrots contain a high fiber content, which helps the body dispose of LDL cholesterol.
High amounts of LDL cholesterol can cause a number of cardiovascular diseases. It can enter the endothelium (the inner lining of the walls of an artery) and create plaque, which can harden and lead to atherosclerosis. High LDL cholesterol also increases the chance of strokes.
One study that was done at the Mario Negri Institute in Italy proved that carrots reduce the chances of having a heart attack significantly. A study group that ate carrots more frequently than the control group had up to three times less of a chance of having a heart attack.
Conclusion: Carrots are loaded with antioxidants. Several of these antioxidants specifically target the cardiovascular system, preventing bulidup of plaque in the arteries and ensuring a proper regulation of blood pressure. These helpful actions can help your body prevent and fight off heart disease.
7. Carrots can help you lose weight
Carrots are a food very high in fiber. Fiber is great for people hoping to lose weight.
There are two types of fiber, insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. They both help you lose weight in different ways.
Soluble fiber is particularly useful for those hoping to lose weight. Neither of the forms of fiber are digestible, however soluble fiber is able to mix with water. It doesn’t quite dissolve, but it swells into ]a viscous, paste-like substance. This substance helps a person feel full quicker, and is generally shown to reduce calorie intake in the course of a day.
Insoluble fiber is useful because it allows the body to clear itself of several waste forms. It helps the body eliminate bile, which is produced by the liver. Bile absorbs toxins and fats, takes them back to the liver where it processes them, and is typically excreted afterwards. Bile is excreted by coming into contact with insoluble fiber, which it clings to and follows to the end of the digestive tract.Insoluble fiber can also help clear the body of cholesterol. Your liver uses cholesterol to create bile, so when it’s properly cycled out of your body, your liver uses more cholesterol. If bile isn’t properly excreted, it also becomes more and more toxic as your body continues recycling it through the liver.
Eating carrots with your meals has been studied, and consuming carrots and other high-fiber foods leads to an overall decrease in food consumption. This will reduce a person’s total calorie intake and lower the amount of weight the person can gain from excess calories being stored as fat.
Conclusion: Carrots are a high-fiber food that can contribute to proper digestion. The fiber content helps your body eliminate excess cholesterol, and ensures proper cycling of bile so your body can consistently eliminate other toxins.
8. Carrots help bolster your immune system
Carrots contain a number of nutrients that bolster the immune system - including the ability to fight off bacteria and pathogens that enter the body through the mouth. Carrots stimulate the production of saliva, which is an alkaline substance and helps eliminate bacteria that can cause cavities or other oral health issues.
Carrots also help with removing plaque from your teeth if you eat them after meals. Furthermore, since carrots are so high in fiber, they act sort of like a brush when they travel through your digestive tract. This further boosts the immune system, freeing up energy for your body’s defenses to work against other threats.
Carrots have an incredible amount of vitamin A, which is known to bolster the immune system’s function. It also helps maintain proper growth of tissues and skin. Many of the other carotenoids present in the vegetable also bolster the immune system’s function.
Carrots also contain notable amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body produce white blood cells, and makes them more effective. White blood cells are responsible for battling pathogens and keeping them out of the bloodstream.
Conclusion: Carrots can help your immune system function much better. They contain a number of nutrients and antioxidants that either directly improve the immune system’s ability to function, or they take strain off the immune system by helping clear out other toxins and pathogens.
9. Carrots help protect your brain and improve its function
Carrots contain several antioxidants that target the brain. This means that there will be a reduced chance of oxidative stress in the brain.
Oxidative stress in your brain is what leads to neural degeneration. This can lead to such diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s - two degenerative diseases that are very difficult, if not impossible to reverse. Preventing these sorts of diseases before they can negatively affect you is crucial for maintaining your mental health.
Carrots also contain a compound known as luteolin. This particular compound limits the natural inflammation that occurs in the brain with age, which causes memory issues. When consumed regularly from a young age, it can improve the function of your brain in the long-term.
Conclusion: Carrots are good at preventing oxidative damage in the brain. This can slow the onset of various mental disorders.
10. Carrots keep your skin healthy and looking fresh
Carrots are very high in certain nutrients that are very beneficial for helping your skin’s health. There are a certain few vitamins and nutrients that can be consumed that ensure proper production of skin-healing hormones. Consuming ample amounts of these nutrients is one of the most efficient ways to help your skin flourish and look young. Carrots are loaded with two of these nutrients:
The retinols that make up part of what we call vitamin A, are very useful for maintaining skin health. So effective are retinols, that synthetic forms have been used as treatments for acne and other skin conditions for decades. Vitamin A influences healthy development of skin by maintaining a healthy level of growth, and prohibiting overactivity in the glands of your dermis. Vitamin A also helps your body ensure a proper cell turnover - meaning that your cells will reproduce and recycle more effectively. When this happens in the skin, the constant stream of new, healthy cells will keep your skin looking fresh.A depletion of vitamin A can cause a lot of unpleasant skin defects. It can make your skin scaly and dry, by preventing moisture contained in mucus from being secreted. There’s a surprising amount of adults who cope with vitamin A related skin problems - almost 40% of the American population.
Vitamin C is tremendously important for maintaining proper skin growth and development. Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, which is the main protein responsible for structuring skin. Deficiencies of vitamin C often are noticed first by symptoms related to the skin: dry, scratchy, scaly skin are some of the first issues to appear. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the speed at which the skin wrinkles. It’s also shown to prevent damage from ultraviolet rays, which can lead to skin cancer. It does this by acting as an antioxidant, fighting off any free radicals that may form in the epidermis.
Aside from that, carrots have the ability to bolster your immune system and improve blood flow. These two traits allow for a better flow of nutrients around the body, and free up energy for your body, allowing it to focus more on maintaining the health of less-immediate functions such as skin clarity.
Conclusion: There are several vitamins and minerals that are of particular interest for helping the body maintain healthy skin. Two of these nutrients are very concentrated in carrots - vitamins A and C. They work together to help the skin produce more collagen and eliminate free radicals that form in the skin, warding off skin disease and making your skin look young and fresh.
How to Select and Store Carrots for Maximum Nutrition
There are a number of things you want to look out for when choosing carrots to ensure that you get the most nutrition from them. You must observe the texture, colour, consistency, and aroma before purchasing.
Carrots with a deeper orange colour are higher in their beta-carotene content, making them more effective at fighting oxidation and helping your body heal.
Carrots that are distinctly forked or cracked, or lack the composure of healthy, erect carrots should be avoided. They do not have the nutrients required to maintain healthy cell structure.
Carrots that have darkening stems are showing signs of age, and should be avoided because their nutrients may have degraded.
If the carrots still have tops attached, ensure that the leaves are bright and lustrous. If they’re not, the carrots are old and their nutrients won’t be as potent.
Of course, buying organic carrots will ensure that you get more nutritional bang for your buck. You’re also much less likely to encounter toxins, metals, or unnatural pesticides when purchasing the carrots.
Carrots are quite durable. They store for much longer than a lot of other vegetables - particularly if you ensure that they maintain their moisture content. Keep them stored in the cooler parts of your fridge, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag or a paper towel. Anything that will lower the amount of condensation formed by the carrot’s moisture.
Stored like this, carrots will keep for about two weeks. Vitamin C, which is sensitive to heat, will degrade much slower in a refrigerator. Beta-carotene, one of the most crucial nutrients in carrots, is preserved very well when your carrots are stored properly. Make sure they’re stored away from other organic produce that produces ethylene gas - potatoes, apples, pears - because it will make your carrots lose flavour.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking Carrots
Make sure you wash your carrots gently, but not until right before eating them. Scrubbing them before storing them will make them more vulnerable to losing nutrients. Peel them, unless they’re organic.
Heating carrots too much can damage the nutrients in the vegetable. Naturally, eating them raw provides the most uninhibited benefit for your health. Fortunately, beta-carotene - one of the most important nutrients in the carrot - is pretty stable when facing high temperatures. In fact, some research suggests that proper cooking can make the beta-carotene more available for absorption.
The World’s Healthiest Foods has shown that quick steaming is the healthiest way to cook a carrot. Quick steaming makes sure to adhere to the guidelines which are usually associated with limited loss of nutrients - minimizing exposure to heat, minimizing the time which heat is applied to the vegetable, and minimizing the amount of surface area that comes into contact with cooking fluids.
Quick steaming maintains the most flavour and the most nutrients of all other cooking methods - broiling, baking, frying, boiling, you name it. Quick steaming is the most effective way to heat up and make your carrots more easily digestible.
Here’s a few quick ideas for almost instant snack ideas you can use carrots for, if you’re hankering for a vitamin-A heavy treat but can’t be bothered to cook up an entire meal.
Shred or julienne some carrots, or chop up the greens - both make great additions to salads
You can mix shredded or julienned carrots with lettuce greens, apples, shredded beets - or whatever vegetables you feel like - to make a quick salad.
You can boil and puree a bunch of carrots in a blender to make a quick soup. Add spices to taste to make it your own personal style.
Eating raw carrot sticks with hummus or another dipping sauce makes a great nutritious snack. You can add broccoli and cauliflower florets or cucumber slices for a full vegetable platter.
4 Amazing Recipes for You to Try at Home
For those with more time, here are some recipes that utilize carrots.
I’ll try to include appetizers, main courses, and even some desserts so that you can have a full-course meal centered on carrots if you so desire!
This is a creamy delicious soup that’s high in nutrients. It only takes half an hour to prepare and makes a hearty appetizer for any meal!
You will need:
A large onion
A tablespoon, and three cups, of chicken or veggie broth
Two tablespoons worth of sliced ginger
Four cloves of garlic
A teaspoon of curry powder
Two cups of carrots
A cup of cubed sweet potatoes
A can of coconut milk (5 oz)
First, chop your onion. Letting it sit for a few minutes helps bring out some additional health benefits from the vegetable.
Heat a tablespoon of your broth in a medium of pot. Saute your onion in your broth for about five minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop your garlic, and slice your ginger. Add them to the onion, and saute for another minute.
Next, add your curry powder and mix until it’s evenly coated over the onions. When it’s mixed, you can add your broth.
Cut your sweet potatoes into cubes of about a half inch each, and slice your carrots into quarter-inch thick slices. Add them to the broth and simmer on medium-high. It shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes for the vegetables to become tender.
When the veggies are tender, add the coconut milk, then pour some of the mixture into a blender. Don’t let the blender fill more than halfway - the high temperatures can cause pressure that could cause the blender to explode and cause injury.
Salt and pepper to taste, then return to soup pot and reheat.
This delicious, colourful meal can be served as a main dish, or as an appetizer or accompaniment. The lentils provide a good helping of protein and the mix of vegetables add a potent combination of vitamins and minerals. The preparation takes hardly any time at all, and the cooking period is only half an hour. The result is a meal that will keep you fueled for hours.
You will need:
A cup of orange lentils
Four cups, plus a tablespoon of vegetable broth
A medium onion
Three cloves of garlic
Two celery stalks
Two cups of kale
Two teaspoons of curry powder
A fifteen ounce can of diced tomatoes
Three tablespoons of cilantro
First, rinse your lentils in a sieve. Remove any leftover debris.
Chop your onions and your garlic. Letting them sit for a few minutes after cutting allows for some of their nutritional potential to be enhanced.
Heat a tablespoon of broth in a medium pot, and saute your onion in the broth. Over medium heat, it shouldn’t take more than five minutes for your onions to start looking see-through. Meanwhile, dice your celery and carrots.
Once the onions are translucent, add your garlic, carrots, and celery. Saute for another few minutes, then add the curry powder. Mix so everything is evenly coated in spice, then add your lentils, four cups of broth, and the entire can of tomatoes - don’t drain them. Bring the whole thing to a boil, then simmer without a lid for about 5 minutes.
When everything is tender, add your kale and simmer for a few more minutes. Once it’s wilted, add your cilantro. Finally, season with salt and pepper and serve.
This recipe only takes ten minutes to make and can be used in wraps or in salads, or even used as a dip for other vegetables.
You will need:
A cup of cashews
Two teaspoons of ginger
Five teaspoons of lemon juice
Two teaspoons of soy sauce
Four teaspoons of olive oil
Two teaspoons of parsley or cilantro
Simple - blend all the ingredients together until they form a paste. It should be smooth when it’s finished. Make sure you scrape anything that collects on the side of your blender or food processor into the bulk of the mixture.
When you have a smooth paste, add your cilantro or parsley, then pulse once or twice to blend into the rest of the mixture.
This is another very simple recipe that can be served alongside all sorts of different recipes. It only takes fifteen minutes to prepare, and packs a nutritional punch.
You will need:
Half a tablespoon of parsley
A tablespoon of chopped mint
A tablespoon of chopped pumpkin seeds
Two tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Bring some salted water to a boil in a steamer. Make sure you have a lid that fits tightly.
Cut your carrots into turned pieces and steam them until they are al dente. Evenly chop your remaining ingredients and add them, mixing well. After this, you should have enough to serve six.
Carrots are a very nutritious, tasty, and versatile vegetable. They can be used in all sorts of different cooking preparations, giving you lots of alternatives to explore if you’re hoping to introduce carrots to your diet on a regular basis. Doing this will help you fight all sorts of diseases, age-related degeneration, and even improve the health of your brain.