Carrots are one of the most versatile and commonly used vegetables around the world that come packed with plenty of incredible health benefits, such as improving cardiovascular health, preventing cancer, and boosting eyesight. They have been valued for their medicinal properties for centuries, being added to salads, soups, stews, and even used as a delicious juice.
They are a type of root vegetable that is part of the same family as parsnips, parsley, fennel, cumin, and dill. While orange carrots are the most commonly cultivated kind today, purple, red, white, and yellow carrots are also available and were the most common color varieties before the 16th century.
They are crunchy and have a sweet and slightly minty aromatic flavor, which makes them excellent to add to any meal or to have on their own as a healthy snack. Both the taproot and the leaves are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients that are extremely good for you and easy to make part of your healthy lifestyle.
What are the Health Benefits of Carrots?
1. Prevents Heart Disease
A study conducted at the Wolfson Gastrointestinal Laboratory in Edinburgh, Scotland showed that eating 1-2 cups of carrots per day for just 3-weeks resulted in an 11% reduction in cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is a known as a risk factor for heart disease.
Researchers from the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research in Italy also found that carrot consumption reduced the risk of heart attacks by 33%, which is incredible!
Furthermore, carrots contain high amounts of powerful antioxidants, which help to reduce oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system, minimizing the risk. Heart disease is currently the number one killer in the world, accounting for more than 17 million deaths per year.
2. Prevents Cancer
British researchers discovered that an increase in beta-carotene intake up to 2.7 milligrams per day, which is equivalent to just one carrot, resulted in a 40% lower risk of developing lung cancer.
A separate study found that the high-fiber content of carrots reduced the risk of developing colon cancer by 24% and that women who ate carrots were 8-times less likely to develop breast cancer than those who never did.
Additionally, the powerful antioxidants help to reduce oxidative stress on a cellular level, which helps to prevent the development and spread of unhealthy cells, such as cancer cells.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
Potassium is known as a vasodilator, which means that it relaxes the tension in arteries and blood vessels.
One cup of chopped carrots meets 11% of the daily recommended amount of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, and decrease the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and developing atherosclerosis.
4. Enhances Eyesight
Carrots contain a powerful form of Vitamin A, known as beta-carotene, which is excellent for eyesight. Just one cup meets 400% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A, which means that these vegetables are powerful for preventing night blindness, macular degeneration, and other eye disorders.
A study conducted at the University of California showed that volunteers who ate carrots twice a week had a much lower risk of developing eye disorders or losing vision than those who did not eat any carrots, even helping to reduce and prevent the development of cataracts.
They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids that give carrots their beautiful and bright color. These nutrients help to keep cells and eye tissue healthy, which naturally reduces the aging process and prevents premature vision loss.
5. Improves Digestion
Sufficient intake of dietary fiber is essential for maintaining good digestive health, and while modern diets make it a challenge to meet the minimum recommended daily amount, carrots are so rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that it becomes an easy target to achieve.
Each cup of carrots offers 3.6 grams or 14% of the recommended amount of dietary fiber, which helps to prevent constipation and keeps cholesterol and toxicity levels in check.
6. Slows Aging
Daily exposure to the environmental pollution, the sun’s UV rays, and chemicals in daily household products leads to the oxidation of cells, both on the inside and the outside, which speeds up the aging process.
Carrots contain an intense dose of powerful antioxidants that can help to reduce oxidative stress, which not only makes skin look younger and healthier but actually keeps cells in the body healthier too.
7. Boosts Immunity
Carrots contain natural antiseptic and antibacterial compounds, which help to boost the strength of the immune system, while also offering plenty of Vitamin C. One cup meets 12% of the daily required amount of Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates the production of white blood cells and helps to prevent the development of colds and flu.
8. Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Minerals such as potassium and magnesium are excellent for maintaining fluid balance in the body and reducing inflammation, which carrots are a rich source of.
The beta-carotene has also been shown to speed up the healing process of wounds and injuries, while the antioxidants fight to decrease infection and inflammation throughout the body.
9. Good for the Brain
Studies have shown that carrots and carrot juice help to prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, particularly due to their powerful capacity to reduce oxidative stress.
According to the 2010 journal Nutrition, they also contain luteolin, which is a compound that reduces inflammation in the brain and helps to improve memory, learning, and cognitive function.
10. Improves Oral Health
Carrots are highly alkalizing, which means that they help to cleanse and protect teeth and gums by creating an environment in which bacteria and plaque cannot thrive.
The fiber also helps to scrub away any impurities, while the vitamins and minerals are excellent for improving the health of the tongue, gum, and lip tissue.
How to Use Them?
They can be steamed, baked, boiled, or grilled, and are excellent to add to salads, soups, stews, curries, meat dishes or eaten as a healthy snack on their own.
Quick-steaming or eating them raw is the best way to maximize both the flavor and the amazing nutrition that they offer, which makes it even easier to include in your daily routine.
Where to Buy Them?
As much as 33% of all carrot crops are currently produced in China but they are widely available all over the world, including in Iceland!
Go for organic to get the purest and freshest version of this wonderful vegetable, which can be found a farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and many supermarkets today.
How to Select and Store?
The richer the color, the more beta-carotene it contains, so choose carrots that are brightly colored, firm, smooth, and that are from organic sources.
They should not be limp or rubbery, and if their leaves are still attached, they should look bright and fresh.
Carrots should be refrigerated and can be stored for up to 2 weeks. They must be stored separately from other fruits and vegetables to keep their sweet flavor and to prevent them from drying out or ripening too quickly.