Benefits of Carrots: The Crunchy Superfood

Ms. Anupa Mahanty    31-01-2016 Consult

The name "carrot" comes from the Greek word "karoton." The beta-carotene that is found in carrots was actually named for the carrot itself!

Carrots are easily and abundantly available all through the year especially during winters. They are rich in Vitamin A and are known as a superfood as they provide  a host of  powerful health benefits like good eyesight, beautiful skin, cancer prevention, and anti-aging. Read how to get maximum benefits from this amazing vegetable.

Benefits of Carrots

1. Improve vision: Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina, to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision. Beta-carotene has also been shown to protect against macular degeneration and senile cataracts. .

2. Help prevent cancer: Studies have shown carrots reduce the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. Researchers have just discovered falcarinol and falcarindiol which they feel cause the anticancer properties. Falcarinol is a natural pesticide produced by the carrot that protects its roots from fungal diseases. Carrots are one of the only common sources of this compound.

3. Slow down aging: The high level of beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism.  It helps slow down the aging of cells.

4. Promote healthier skin: Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, and uneven skin tone.

5. Help prevent infection: Carrots are known by herbalists to prevent infection. They can be used on cuts - shredded raw or boiled and mashed.

6. Promote healthier skin (from the outside): Carrots are used as an inexpensive and very convenient facial mask.  Just mix grated carrot with a bit of honey.

7. Prevent heart disease: Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.  Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein. The regular consumption of carrots also reduces cholesterol levels because the soluble fibers in carrots bind with bile acids.

8. Cleanse the bodyVitamin A assists the liver in flushing out the toxins from the body. It reduces the bile and fat in the liver. The fibers present in carrots help clean out the colon and hasten waste movement.

9. Protect teeth and gums: It's all in the crunch! Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste.  Carrots stimulate gums and  trigger a lot of saliva, which being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria.  The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.

10. Prevent stroke: In a Harvard University study, people who ate more than six carrots a week are less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate only one carrot a month or less.

How to eat Carrots
The nutrition in carrots are tightly encased in protein sacs that have to be broken by heat (cooking) or mechanical action (grinding, juicing, proper chewing). Cooking the carrots in fat or oils, or pureeing or juicing them increases the availability of carotenoids by 600 percent. Fats help the absorption of carotenoids into the blood by 1000 percent as carotenoids are fat soluble.

Wash carrots thoroughly before use. Trim both ends; gently scrape off outer skin and smaller hairy roots. The younger roots have crispy, pleasant taste with rich flavor. Raw carrots are naturally sweet and juicy; however, boiling them in water for few minutes enhances the bioavailability of nutrients.

Here are some serving tips:

  • 1. Fresh carrots can be enjoyed as they are, or can be used raw in vegetable as well as fruit salads.
  • 2. Its slices easily blend with other common root vegetables like radish, turnips or with greens/tomato in mixed salads.
  • 3. Carrot juice is a refreshing drink, enjoyed either alone or with fruit/vegetable juice.
  • 4. Carrots mix well with vegetables like green beans, peas in variety of recipes either stewed, in curry, stir fries, etc.
  • 5. Delicious sweet dish, "gaajar ka halwa," is prepared using grated carrot, almonds, cashews, butter, sugar, and milk.
  • 6. The root is also used in the preparation of cakes, tart, pudding, soups, borscht, etc.
  • 7. They are also used in the preparation of healthy baby-foods.
  • So, try to include more of carrots this winter in your diet and feel their benefits and healing properties.  Remember, overconsumption of Vitamin A can be toxic to human, but is unlikely to be achieved through diet alone (most vitamin overconsumption occurs by supplementation). Overconsumption of carotene may cause a slight orange tinge in skin color but it is not harmful to health.