There is no question that carrots are healthy for you. They are also easy to prepare and can be prepared in a variety of ways. For this reason, carrots are among the most widely consumed vegetables throughout the world. They grow easily in just about any soil and have a place in many different international cuisines.
The scientific name for carrots is Daucus carota. While it is classified as a root, some people eat the tops of carrots as well. Most carrots are bright orange; however, there are less common varieties of carrots that are yellow, white, red, or purple in color. Most people eat domesticated carrots, which are a variation of the wild type (Daucus carota). It is found native to southwestern Asia and Europe but most imported carrots come from China.
The Nutrition in Carrots
Carrots are healthy for you in a variety of ways. Carrots are high in beta carotene and fiber. They have loads of antioxidants, which fight cancer and other cellular defects. Most varieties of carrots are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, Vitamin B8, Vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, manganese, potassium, and copper.
How are carrots healthy for you?
Carrots have many health benefits: Some of these include the following:
- Carrots prevent cardiovascular disease. In at least one study, the consumption of carrots resulted in a reduction in cholesterol by approximately 11 percent in those people who ate 7 oz of carrots daily for three weeks. Lower cholesterol means a lowered risk for heart disease. In another study out of Sweden, researchers found that eating carrots on a regular basis reduced the risk of having a heart attack.
- Carrots lower blood pressure. Carrots are high in potassium, which dilates the blood vessels and coumarin that lowers blood pressure. This improves overall body circulation and enhances the function of all of the body’s organs. Lower blood pressure means there is less stress on the heart and a decreased risk of heart attacks, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
- Carrots enhance the immune system. Carrots are high in antibacterial and antiseptic properties so that it enhances the body’s immune system. Carrots are also high in vitamin C, which stimulates white blood cells, which are an important part of the immune system.
- Carrots promote digestion. The fiber in the roots of the carrot can help maintain excellent digestive health. Carrots are high in insoluble fiber, which bulk up the stool and allow it to pass cleanly through the colon. The fiber also enhances peristalsis in the colon and increases the secretion of stomach acid. It is believed to be protective not only against constipation but in preventing more serious things like colon cancer.
- Carrots help prevent cancer. Carrots are high in beta carotene, which reduces the risk of several types of cancer, particularly cancer of the lung. One study showed that people who ate more beta carotene had a reduction in lung cancer risk by more than forty percent. Another study revealed that eating carrots decreased the chances of getting colon cancer by approximately 24 percent. Breast cancer is also believed to be protected against by eating carrots.
- Carrots help the eyes. Carrot consumption is believed to decrease the incidence of age-related macular degeneration. One study showed that people who ate more beta carotene had a 40 percent decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration. Carrots also seem to help prevent decreases in vision that occur as a result of vitamin A deficiency.
- Carrots help in mouth health. Carrots are known to stimulate the gums and enhance saliva production, which means there are fewer dental caries and fewer bacteria in the mouth that can lead to dental caries. It also seems to be beneficial in helping people with bad breath.
- Carrots prevent strokes. Research has shown that eating a carrot every day can decrease the chances of getting a stroke by 58 percent. No one knows exactly why this is the case but it is believed to be because carrots are high in beta carotene.
- Carrots are protective in diabetics. Because of the carotenoids in carrots, blood sugar is better regulated and diabetes is in better control. Carrots also help to regulate the use of glucose and insulin in the body so that there are fewer blood sugar fluctuations in diabetics.
5 Healthy Ways to Eat Carrots
Carrots can be eaten in several ways as they are a versatile vegetable when eaten raw or cooked. Here are five ways you can incorporate carrots into your diet:
- Eat them raw—carrot sticks can be eaten raw alone or with a vegetable dip
- Eat carrot soup—carrot soup retains much of the nutrients that raw carrots have and is a delicious way to eat carrots.
- Eat them juiced—carrots can be juiced alone or with other vegetables for a healthy juice containing many phytonutrients
- Eat them roasted—carrots roasted in a light amount of oil retain many of their phytonutrients and make for a good side dish to a meal.
- Eat them in a casserole—carrots can be chopped and put in just about any soup or casserole.