Reviewed by Madhu Sharma, Registered Dietitian
The carrot (Daucus carota) is a nutrient-dense root rich in antioxidants, fiber, beta carotene, and other vitamins and minerals. Research suggests that carrots may improve vision, promote skin health, and reduce the risk of some forms of cancer.
A Brief On Carrots
People have been eating carrots for over 5,000 years. The vegetable originated in the Middle East and Afghanistan and was initially available only in purple and yellow colors. The familiar orange carrot was developed only later, in the 1600s.
Researchers today are breeding carrots in different colors, including yellow, bright red, and dark orange to make them more appealing. But what is grabbing attention is the set of pigments in carrots that offer important benefits.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Carrots?
- May Promote Eye Health
Vitamin A, in recommended quantities, is essential for good vision, and carrots offer the nutrient in abundance. If a person is deprived of vitamin A for too long, the outer segments of the eyes’ photoreceptors begin to deteriorate. This leads to night blindness .
Insufficient vitamin A can disrupt the normal chemical processes involved in vision. Restoring adequate vitamin A intake can facilitate vision health.
- May Reduce Risk Of Cancer.
Carrots contain numerous phytochemicals that are well-studied for their anticancer properties. A few of these compounds include beta-carotene and other carotenoids. These compounds promote immunity and activate certain proteins that inhibit cancer cells. Studies show that the juice from carrots can combat leukemia as well.
The carotenoids present in carrots may reduce the risk of stomach, colon, prostate, lung, and breast cancers in women
Some believe carrots may also reduce oral cancer risk. However, more research is warranted in this regard.
- May Promote Skin Health.
Carrots are rich in carotenoids. Research suggests that fruits and vegetables rich in these compounds can improve skin appearance and also help people look relatively younger.
However, overconsuming carrots (or other foods high in carotenoids) can result in a condition called carotenemia, wherein your skin appears yellow or orange .
- May Enhance Hair Growth.
Carrots are powerhouses of Vitamins A and C, carotenoids, potassium, and other antioxidants. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the veggies may contribute to hair health. However, more research is needed in this regard.
- May Aid Weight Loss
Raw, fresh carrots are about 88% water (1). A medium carrot has only about 25 calories. Hence, including carrots in your diet is a smart way of filling yourself up without piling on calories.
Carrots also contain fiber. In a study, meals containing whole and blended carrots resulted in higher satiety levels in the test subjects.
- May Regulate Blood Pressure
One study claimed that carrot juice contributed to a 5% reduction in systolic blood pressure. The nutrients present in carrot juice, including fiber, potassium, nitrates, and vitamin C, were found to aid this effect .
- May Aid Diabetes Treatment
Following a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining healthy weight can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. In studies, low blood levels of vitamin A were found in individuals with diabetes. The abnormalities in glucose metabolism would need an increased need to fight oxidative stress, and this is where the antioxidant vitamin A may help.
Carrots are high in fiber. Studies show that increased fiber intake can improve glucose metabolism in individuals with diabetes . The veggies can be added to a diabetes meal.
- May Boost Immunity
Vitamin A regulates the functioning of your system and prevents infections. It achieves this by boosting your body’s immunity. Get this immune-boosting vitamin from carrots. Carrots also contain vitamin C that contributes to the production of collagen, which is essential for wound healing. This nutrient further contributes to a strong immune system.
- May Strengthen Bones.
Vitamin A influences bone cell metabolism. Carotenoids are associated with improved bone health (18). Though there is no direct research stating that carrots can help improve bone health, their vitamin A content may help. More studies are needed to further understand this mechanism.
- May Lower Cholesterol Levels
As per rat studies, carrot consumption can reduce cholesterol absorption and increase the antioxidant status of your body. These effects can also promote cardiovascular health. Raw carrots are also rich in a fiber called pectin that may help lower cholesterol.
- Are Good For The Teeth And Gums
Chewing of carrots may promote oral cleanliness. Some believe carrots may also freshen breath, though there is no research to substantiate the statement. Anecdotal evidence suggests that carrots may neutralize the citric and malic acids usually left behind in your mouth, promoting oral health.
- May Promote Liver Health And Eliminate Toxins.
Carrots contain glutathione. The antioxidant was found to have the potential to treat liver damage caused by oxidative stress . The veggies are also high in plant flavonoids and beta-carotene, both of which stimulate and support your overall liver function. The beta-carotene in carrots may also combat liver diseases.