"Eat your carrots!" is blurted after the vegetable has been avoided at the dinner table. But hearing, "Because they are good for you!" just is not too persuasive, especially to children.
But carrots are low in cost, available throughout the year, and versatile. Carrots are consumed raw with dips, shredded into a salad, and boiled or steamed. They may also be grated and baked into a carrot cake.
So, are carrots good for you? Learn all about carrots nutrition and their amazing benefits here!
8 Health Benefits of Carrots
1. Carrots are rich in nutrients.
Carrots are a non-starchy, root vegetable. A medium-sized carrot supplies about 25 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrate according to the USDA food database. Though their carb content is often worrisome for some dieters, the carbs in raw carrots supply beneficial fiber, too.
Besides, carrots have a lot of bang for their buck and are nutritionally dense. This means that offer many nutrients for minimal calorie. Think of it this way: A cup of candy is essentially a cup of sugar supplying about 500 calories without nutrients. A cup of chopped carrots, on the other hand, has approximately 50 calories and all sorts of beneficial nutrients.
The majority of carrots' benefits are attributed to their high amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. The vitamin also gives carrots their orange color. Carrots are also good sources of soluble and insoluble fibers, potassium, and vitamin K.
2. Carrots are known to play a role in good vision.
Vitamin A helps protect the eye's surface and is needed to form a protein called rhodopsin found in the eye. As darkness falls and the light dims, rhodopsin activates and allows the eyes to adjust to the changes.
Night blindness, or having trouble seeing in the dark, can be a sign of vitamin A deficiency. Not eating carrots will not directly cause blindness but their consumption has the ability to improve and maintain vision.
3. Carrots may help prevent certain diseases.
Carrots are antioxidants, a protective chemical that fights against and stabilizes free radicals in the body. Free radical exposure from pollutants, sugar metabolism, and medications (to name a few) can damage the cells and body. Lessening the impact helps reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and other health conditions.
A study conducted at the University of Arkansas discovered a 34 percent antioxidant increase in carrots after immediately cooking. So, processed carrots may offer greater antioxidant properties compared to raw carrots.
However, carrots still exhibit antioxidant properties in all its forms. So, keep the raw carrot sticks and hummus as a nutritious snack!
4. Carrots can support digestive health.
Carrots contain dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble, that contributes to a healthy digestive tract. Specifically, insoluble fiber increases stool bulk and promotes movement through the GI tract.
General fiber recommendations vary between genders or 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams per day for women. Surprisingly, the average fiber intake is about 15 grams per day! But just one cup of chopped carrots supplies 6 grams of fiber.
Rapidly increasing amounts of fiber in the diet can cause digestive distress and unpleasant symptoms. To minimize havoc, increase fiber intake slowly while increasing water.
5. Diabetes can help control blood sugars.
The fiber in carrots can help control blood sugars relative to their fiber content and glycemic index (GI) score.
Soluble fiber, the other form of fiber, can be thought of as a gel after absorbing water from the GI tract. Soluble fiber can slow sugar absorption and improve blood sugar levels. While soluble fiber plays a role in sugar control, insoluble fiber could reduce the development of type 2 diabetes.
Carrots are also low on the glycemic index, which measures how a carb-containing food impacts and raises blood glucose levels. Generally, the lower the glycemic index, the lower the risk of high blood sugars. Low-GI foods are less than 55 and carrots have a GI score of 35.
6. Carrots assist in cell differentiation and growth.
All cells need vitamin A to grow. They do so through the process of cell differentiation, in which an immature cell grows into a specific, mature cell. Think of this as a small child growing and learning to find their own identity as an adult.
For example, keratinocytes (a fancy word for immature skin cells) transform into mature epidermal cells. With a vitamin A deficiency, the keratinocytes are unable to mature. This can cause drying, scaling, and hardening of the eyes, skin, digestive tract, and trachea through a process called keratinization.
7. Carrots can benefit cardiovascular health.
Carrots contain vitamin K, which is regularly recognized for its key role in blood clotting. In fact, the “K” from the vitamin is derived from the German word “koagulation.” Coagulation is defined as the process involved in blood clot formation. Blood clotting is crucial for minimizing blood loss after injury and can even be lifesaving.
One cup of carrots supplies about 40 percent of daily potassium needs. Potassium helps control blood pressure, while high-fiber foods also support heart health by helping to lower cholesterol.
8. Carrots can play a role in bone development and growth.
Maintaining bone mineral density is a balancing act of nutrients. Even though the mechanisms are currently unclear, there has been evidence showing vitamins A and K are contributed to bone health.
However, too much vitamin A can interfere with vitamin D, which plays a critical role in bone health.
All of these processes are critical to achieving and maintaining a healthy, working body. So care about carrots and reap the amazing health benefits!
Gropper SS, Smith JL. Vitamin A and carotenoids. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 6th ed. Belmond, CA.: Wadsworth; 2012:371-386.