Carrots are more than rabbit food. This root vegetable is good for your gut and has healing and reparative properties. The health benefits of carrots are numerous and make it a great vegetable to have in your diet.
Carrots have a long history and have been selectively bred over the millennia to bring us the tasty root we have today. Wild carrots originate from modern day Iran and Afghanistan. They’ve been cultivated in Europe for the last 4000-5000 years, but were originally harvested for their leaves and seeds. The root of the carrot used to be far woodier and bitter than it is today. Carrots were originally used similarly to their close relatives, fennel, dill, and parsley. We’re not going to complain about how our ancestors selectively bred carrots though because their roots are a great source of antioxidants and nutrients.
Carrots are a good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and manganese. They are also a great source of dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium.
Carrots have a vibrant colour. While they are most commonly orange, there are also purple, black, white, yellow, and red varieties. These colourful pigments do a lot more than provide a beautiful colour. They all are a source of many health benefits.
Health Benefits of Carrots
Carotenoids are the main natural pigment in carrots, and carrots are loaded with them, specifically β-carotene. β-carotene is a precursor to the vitamin A. While β-carotene is not as powerful as the animal version of vitamin A (retinol) but once converted it does the same thing.
Vitamin A is needed for many reasons. It works as an antioxidant, reducing inflammation and stress. It is also important for ocular health. That’s right, our eyes need vitamin A to stay healthy. Vitamin A deficiency can result in ocular degeneration. It is also important for proper growth and development, making it extra important for children and young adults. It’s good to note that β-carotene is significantly better absorbed from cooked or pureed carrots compared a whole raw carrot.
The vitamin A in carrots, retinoic acid, appears to be beneficial for liver health. This form of vitamin A helps control and regulate the immune system and has a targeting effect that has the immune system treat liver injury. Furthermore, it is needed to support the immune system’s metabolic regulation.
Lutein is one of the most common forms of carotenoid found in carrots. This is great because lutein is the only carotenoid that reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
We’ve all heard that eating too many carrots can turn you orange, but can this really happen and how?
It’s true. Eating a lot of carrots on a consistently regular basis could alter (temporarily) the colour of your skin. It would take a lot of carrots over a period of time, but because carrots are so rich in carotenoids, the body will absorb excess levels, and your skin will start to look yellow (more yellow than orange). Unlike jaundice or liver disease, this colouring will only affect the skin and won’t yellow the eyes.
There are no real health concerns from this colouration, but if you’re changing colour you may want to cut back. 🙂
Fermented carrot juice could help improve type 2 diabetes in patients. A 2014 study tested the effects of carrot juice fermented with lactobacillus plantarum NCU116 in rats. While this has only been tested on rats, there were clear improvements to the rats’ blood glucose levels, hormones, and lipid metabolism. This means that diabetic and pre-diabetic rats were healthier and the diabetic symptoms were lessened.
With different colour carrots, you’re going to get a very different set of antioxidants and health benefits. Black carrots and black carrot juice are packed with stable anthocyanins. This is an antioxidant that makes the deep dark purple in these carrots and other similar colour fruits and vegetables.
Anthocyanins can be very beneficial for type 2 diabetics. These antioxidants improve dyslipidemia, and help prevent insulin resistance. Anthocyanins in other fruits and vegetables were found to significantly reduce and inhibit inflammation. This is a powerful compound that heals the body and keeps in healthy. This is an antioxidant you want in your diet. That’s why we are constantly told to eat dark, richly colourful plants.
These are just the benefits from the antioxidants found in carrots. They are also full of vitamins and minerals that support your health and keep you functioning at your best.