Carrots are one of the earths most popular vegetables. You can find them in cuisine from almost every corner of the globe. Here in North America, they are one of the most common household vegetables and can be eaten and prepared in a variety of ways. However, many people don’t realize how nutritionally rich these seemingly ordinary, everyday vegetables are. One of the most interesting and beneficial properties of carrots are their high content of beta carotene (which our body converts into vitamin A).
In fact, one cup of chopped raw carrots can provide you with up to 428% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Carrots also contain large amounts of vitamins C,D,E and K (up to 21% of your daily recommended intake). In addition, carrots contain minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper and zinc. All while providing you with a high fiber, low fat snack! Let’s look at a few specific areas of health carrots can help improve:
- Age related eyes sight loss: It usually starts to happen around the age of 40. Even those who had enjoyed 20/20 vision for most of their lives are not immune from the deterioration of aging. But we can fight back and eating carrots is a great way to do that! The high levels of vitamin A generated from eating carrots help fight against eye muscle deterioration, which weakens our vision. The anti-oxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin also help reduce free radical damage that leads to age related sight loss.
- Aging: As we all know its not just our eyes that age, our whole organism starts to deteriorate as we grow older. Free radical damage from time, toxins, stress and other factors wear our bodies down all the way to the cellular level. Carrots, rich in antioxidants such as carotenoids, Vitamin C, beta carotene, lycopene and lutein help reduce the age inducing affects of free radical damage.
- Cancer: Carrots are the highest natural source of carotenoid phytochemicals and beta carotene on the planet. These help stop DNA damage and cellular inflammation and mutation, reducing the risk of cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer.
- Heart Disease: Carrot’s high antioxidant levels also help reduce the oxidative stress associated with various heart diseases. Carrots also increase bile production, which leads to better digestion of fat and reduced cholesterol levels.
- Digestion: The high fiber content in carrots acts as a natural digestive brush… scrubbing and cleaning unwanted bacteria in the gut. This cleaning promotes better absorption of immune-boosting and energy producing nutrients.
As you can see carrots are very beneficial for us. However, overcooking carrots can reduce their nutritional content by as much as 30%. Carrots are always best consumed raw or slightly steamed to preserve their nutrient content (this is really a basic principle for all vegetables). Also, be sure to buy naturally grown, organic carrots. Carrots that still have green sprouts attached are generally fresher and more nutrient rich. Since carrots are grown underground, they will often have a little dirt left in the cracks. Do not scrub this away. Just 500 Milligrams of dirt contains 100’s of millions of beneficial microbes that the modern diet and lifestyle often deprives us of. 500 Milligrams is about the amount contained in a small medicinal capsule. It is also about the amount a child consumes when they play outdoors for 90 minutes. So, get your kids outdoors playing and carrots in their and your belly!