A Carrot A Day
The carrot has become a bit of an underdog these days. Overlooked as merely a part of mirepoix, or reduced to stubby baby carrots for dips, this vegetable is actually worth its weight in gold! From their high levels of vitamin A and antioxidants such as carotenoids, you will want to pick them up next time at the grocery store.
Far from its wild form Daucus carota, the cultivated carrot is native to Europe and South Asian regions and boasts a rainbow of colors. It’s a member of the Apiaceae family, a cousin of celery, dill, fennel, parsnip, and parsley. China currently grows nearly half of the world’s carrot supply annually. More than a vegetable garden fixture, the carrot is packed with nutrition, can help protect your vision, and may keep cancer at bay.
Benefits of Carrots
Just one medium-sized carrot provides more than your daily requirement for Vitamin A. They provide an excellent source of this vitamin, but also vitamin C, K, B6, potassium, and manganese– even calcium!
Due to its crunchy texture and mild flavor, the carrot has long been one of the preferred salad toppings. A great source of fiber with a relatively lower carbohydrate count, the carrot is a weight loss-friendly tool, but use moderately in ketogenic diets due to its sugar content.
Maintains Healthy Vision
It may come across as an old wives tale, but it is true. Carrots really help your eyesight. This is due to the large quantities of beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that gives carrot its orange color and name. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant, which prevents free radical damage to the cell. Eyes deteriorate over time, but a high level of antioxidants over the lifespan slows down this process.
Vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness, called Bitot’s spots. Low levels of naturally sourced vitamin A increase the risk of infection and cancer. This greatly affects low-income regions of Africa and South Asia especially. This predominantly affects youngsters and pregnant women. Children in underdeveloped countries often suffer from this form of vitamin A deficiency. The World Health Organization estimates a half million children go blind worldwide, due to this condition; half of those dying within a year of their blindness.
Research has shown that vitamin A has attacked cancer cells in test tube studies. The powerful antioxidants found in carrots help protect the immune system and cellular wall. It is recommended to adopt a diet of fruits and vegetables for a full spectrum of antioxidants. People who do eat a carotenoid-rich diet tend to have lower levels of skin, breast, cervical, and esophageal cancers.
It is generally not recommended to get your vitamin A in pill form. Meta-analysis has shown that consuming high levels of synthetic antioxidants such as vitamin A has shown to increase mortality rates. This has to due to the synergistic players also present with the nutrient in the food, instead of a high dose of one particular extract. Taking beta carotene and vitamin A supplements have been linked to higher rates of lung cancer in smokers and drinkers . In fact, smokers and those with liver conditions should not take vitamin A supplements at all. Nutrients from foods are still the best way to go. If you do get a general vitamin supplement, at least makes sure it’s derived from whole foods.
Beta-Carotene is better released and absorbed in the body when carrots are cooked. Raw carrots are wonderful roughage, but cooked carrots are more nutritionally viable.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Vitamin A has been shown to improve serum HDL levels, which improves blood pressure and blood flow. One way that it helps is by protecting the lining of the blood vessels and arteries. The lower in the inflammation, the easier it is on the heart.
Due to its high nutrient and high fiber content, the carrot is a wonderful resource to improve cholesterol levels. Carrot’s high water content (88%) not only improves the bloodstream but makes carrots excellent for juicing. Instead of taking a supplement, get an instant energy boost with a fresh carrot-ginger-lemon juice instead!
Carrot juice delivers a quick dose of vitamin A, by removing the indigestible fiber. It is also rich in minerals and known to be very useful for your skin. Similar to the retinol cream you put on your skin from the dermatologist, you can get retinol in food form!
Retinol, is a form of vitamin A that comes from animal products. A fat-soluble vitamin, retinyl palmitate assists in the strength and elasticity of the skin and mucous linings of the body. This can be found in eggs, whole milk dairy, or fish, chicken, beef liver.
Carotenoids help to reduce the damage due to ultraviolet rays. They come in bountiful amounts of fresh orange, red and green vegetables. Protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays is not only for aesthetic reasons, but protecting you from skin cancer.
Fun Fact! Over-consuming carrots can turn the skin orange! Oversaturation of beta-carotene in the skin is called hypercarotenosis. Starting usually in the hands and feet, you really don’t have to worry about this unless you are drinking copious amounts of carrot juice. The side effect fades away in time and is generally harmless.
Carrot seed oil is also incredible for the skin. The presence of beta carotene and vitamin A helps to keep your skin protected against the elements and free radicals. Maintaining the elasticity of the skin which happens to starts to sag over time. Carrot root oil if mixed with any of the other base oil helps your skin tremendously. It also helps dry skin problems and rejuvenates the basal layer. Carrot oil is used quite regularly in many skincare products. It protects the sun-damaged and wrinkled skin. Its anti-aging properties keep the skin firmer and more radiant.
We as The Carrot Campaign
Here at the Carrot Campaign, our goal is to empower others. Besides providing a culinary and journalistic view to healthy living, we aspire to help be a part of sustainable agriculture. We believe in all people having access to adequate nutrition around the world. We embrace all the beauty and variety nature has to offer. It is our mission to make healthy living mainstream and accessible to everyone.
For the Love of Food & All That’s Good
- World Health Organization. Vitamin A Deficiency
- Arora A, Willhite CA, Liebler DC. Interactions of beta-carotene and cigarette smoke in human bronchial epithelial cells. Carcinogenesis. 2001; 22(8): 1173-1178
- Fulan H, ChangxingsJ, Baina WY, et al. Retinol, vitamin A, C, and E and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis and meta-regression. Cancer Causes Control. 2011; 22(10): 1386-1394