LIKE a lot of foods, you either love them or you hate them, but eating carrots offer severals health benefits.
There’s some truth in the old wives’ tale that carrots are good for your eyes. They are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed, in the retina, to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision.
Beta-carotene has also been shown to protect against macular degeneration and senile cataracts. A study found that people who eat large amounts of beta-carotene had a 40% lower risk of macular degeneration, than those who consumed little.
Helps prevent cancer
Studies have shown that carrots reduce the risk of lung, breast and colon cancer. Falcarinol is a natural pesticide, produced by the carrot, that protects its roots from fungal diseases. Carrots are one of the only common sources of this compound. A study showed a third lower cancer risk by carrot-eating rats.
Slows down ageing
The high level of beta-carotene in carrots acts as an antioxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism. It help slows down the ageing of cells.
Promotes healthier skin
Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of Vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails. This vitamin prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes and uneven skin tone.
Carrots are used as an inexpensive and very convenient facial mask. Just mix grated carrot with a bit of honey.
Helps prevent infection
Carrots are known by herbalists to prevent infection. They can be used on cuts – shredded raw, or boiled and mashed.
Prevents heart disease
Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Carrots not only have beta-carotene, but also alpha-carotene and lutein.
The regular consumption of carrots also reduces cholesterol levels, because the soluble fibres in carrots bind with bile acids.
Cleanses the body
Vitamin A assists the liver in flushing out the toxins from the body, and reduces the bile and fat in the liver. The fibre present in carrots helps clean out the colon, and hastens waste movement.
Protects teeth and gums
It’s all in the crunch! Raw carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles, just like toothbrushes or toothpaste. Carrots stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which, being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria. The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.
In a Harvard University study, people who ate five or more carrots a week were less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate only one carrot a month, or less.
Fun facts about carrots
*Rabbits love to eat carrots, but they shouldn’t eat too many. A rabbit eating a single carrot is like us eating over 20. Carrots are good for rabbit teeth and don’t have artificial sugar, but too many natural sugars can cause digestive problems and diabetes. They probably would do better with carrot tops!
*Carrots are the second-most-popular type of vegetable, after potatoes
*The biggest carrot recorded was more than 19 pounds, and the longest was over 19 feet
*There are more than 100 species of carrots. Some are big, some are small, and they come in a variety of colours including orange, purple, white, yellow and red
*English women in the 1600s often wore carrot leaves in their hats, in place of flowers or feathers
*The name “carrot” comes from the Greek word “karoton.”
The beta-carotene that is found in carrots was actually named for the carrot itself
*The average American eats about 12 pounds of carrots a year.
That’s only one cup per week. We could easily triple that, while also eating a variety of other vegetables.
How to eat carrots
The nutrients in carrots are tightly encased in protein sacs that have to be broken by heat (cooking), or mechanical action (grinding, juicing or proper chewing).
Cooking the carrots in fat or oils, or pureeing or juicing them, increases the availability of carotenoids by 600%.
Fats also help the absorption of carotenoids into the blood by 1,000%, as carotenoids are fat soluble, so pour a little olive oil on top!
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