The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour, though purple, black, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. Carrots are a domesticated form of the wild carrot, Daucus carota, native to Europe and southwestern Asia.
Although carrots are available throughout the year, locally grown carrots are in season in the summer and fall when they are the freshest and most flavorful. Carrots can be as small as two inches or as long as three feet, ranging in diameter from one-half of an inch to over two inches. Carrot roots have a crunchy texture and a sweet and minty aromatic taste, while the greens are fresh tasting and slightly bitter. While we usually associate carrots with the color orange, carrots can actually be found in a host of other colors including white, yellow, red, or purple. In fact, purple, yellow and red carrots were the only color varieties of carrots to be cultivated before the 15th or 16th century.
Health Benefits of Carrots
Prevention of Heart Disease: High cholesterol is a major factor for heart disease. Since regular consumption of carrots reduces cholesterol levels, it is a good idea to consume a healthy dose of carrots, in order to prevent heart-related problems.
Blood Pressure: Carrots are rich sources of potassium, which is a vasodilator and can relax the tension in your blood vessels and arteries, thereby increasing blood flow and circulation, boosting organ function throughout the body and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system. High blood pressure is also directly linked to atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks, so this is yet another heart-healthy aspect of carrots! The coumarin found in carrots also has been linked to reducing hypertension and protecting your heart health!
Immune Booster: Carrots contain a number of antiseptic and antibacterial abilities that make it ideal for boosting the immune system. Not only that, carrots are a rich source of vitamin C, which stimulates the activity of white blood cells and is one of the most important elements in the human immune system.
Digestion: Carrots, like most vegetables, have significant amounts of dietary fiber in those orange roots, and fiber is one of the most important elements in maintaining good digestive health. Fiber adds bulk to stool, which helps it to pass smoothly through the digestive tract, and it also stimulates peristaltic motion and the secretion of gastric juices. Altogether, this reduces the severity of conditions like constipation and protects your colon and stomach from various serious illnesses, including colorectal cancer. Fiber also boosts heart health by helping to eliminate excess LDL cholesterol from the walls of arteries and blood vessels.
Prevents Cancer: Beta-carotene consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of several cancers, notably lung cancer. British researchers discovered that increasing beta-carotene consumption from 1.7 to 2.7 milligrams per day reduced lung cancer risk by more than 40 percent. The average carrot contains about three milligrams of beta-carotene.
In a separate study, researchers found that eating fiber-rich carrots reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 24 percent. Another study shows that women who ate raw carrots were five to eight times less likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not eat carrots. Further research into the application of both carrots and beta-carotene in relation to other forms of cancer is ongoing.
Macular Degeneration: This is a common eye disease of the elderly that impairs the function of the macula. Research has found that people who ate the most amount of beta-carotene had a forty percent lower risk of macular degeneration compared with those who consumed the least. Beta-carotene can also split itself via an enzymatic reaction to form provitamin A, which is often associated with antioxidant capacity in relation to vision. Therefore, carrots are an all-around vision booster.
Improves Eyesight: Deficiency of vitamin A can cause some difficulty seeing in dim light. Since carrots are rich in vitamin A, it is good for improving eyesight and preventing conditions like night blindness from developing as we age.
Oral Health: The organic compounds in carrots all by themselves are good for mineral antioxidants, but carrots also stimulate the gums and induce excess saliva. Saliva is an alkaline substance and combats the bacteria and foreign bodies that can often result in cavities, halitosis, and other oral health risks.
Stroke: Eating a carrot every day reduces the risk of stroke by 68%. Many studies have strengthened the belief in the “carrot effect” on the brain. Studies conducted on stroke patients revealed that those with highest levels of beta-carotene had the highest survival rate.
Diabetes: Carrots are good for blood sugar regulation due to the presence of carotenoids in this delicious vegetable. Carotenoids inversely affect insulin resistance and thus lower blood sugar, thereby helping diabetic patients live a normal, healthy life. They also regulate the amount of insulin and glucose that is being used and metabolized by the body, providing a more even and healthy fluctuation for diabetic patients.
Carrots have antiseptic qualities and can, therefore, be used as laxatives, vermicides and as a remedy for liver conditions. Carrot oil is good for dry skin because it makes the skin softer, smoother and firmer. Furthermore, carrot juice improves stomach and gastrointestinal health.
Thus, carrots, as raw fruits, juice or in cooked form, are always a good choice for your health!