Few people need to ask ‘are carrots good for you?’ because we all know that carrots are one of the healthiest and most versatile vegetables. They have so many applications in cooking, even for making cakes, and are an excellent ingredient for juices, plus they taste delicious. But what exactly are the health benefits of carrots?
Nutritional health benefits of carrots
Carrots are packed with useful nutrients including high quantities of vitamins C, D, E and K plus vitamins B1 and 6 and pro-vitamin A. They are a source of important minerals including biotin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and other trace minerals. While most people focus on the orange roots, the greens at the top of the carrot are also edible and contain lots of useful calcium, magnesium, potassium, protein and vitamin K.
Carrots are also rich in phytonutrients, which are great little chemicals for healing the body. Alpha, beta and gamma carotenes, lutein, lycopene, xanthophyll and zeaxanthin have all been found in carrots.
The most famous nutrient in carrots is carotene, a powerful healing antioxidant that is also the source of the bold orange colour of the vegetable. It has been suggested that carotene can help to protect against cognitive decline.
Wider health benefits of carrots
As an alkaline vegetable, carrots are favoured by those concerned about acidity in the blood and blood sugar levels. Their detoxifying effects can supposedly help to protect against acne, asthma, psoriasis and other skin problems and ulcers.
The arterial build up of artherosclerosis might be improved by carrot consumption while a high pectin content is alleged to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Constipation can be improved by drinking carrot and spinach juice or eating the whole vegetable raw to access its fibre content, while carrots’ anti-inflammatory properties can have a beneficial effect upon arthritis, gout and rheumatism.
As a diuretic, carrot juice can help to alleviate water retention, particularly for pregnant women.
Carrot juice is also sometimes taken to combat thread worms in children.
Above all, we are told that eating carrots can help you to see in the dark – and it’s almost true! The beta-carotene in carrots is transformed in the body to rhodopsin, a purple coloured pigment that can assist night vision. Beta-carotene has in fact also shown a preventative effect against senile cataracts and macular degeneration.
So you don’t really need to ask ‘are carrots good for you?’, you simply need to eat them – don’t get carried away though! Excess consumption of carrots has been implicated in a condition called carotenemia, which creates an orange tinge on the skin…