They are crunchy, juicy and highly nutritious. We’re talking about carrots, the perfect vegetable that is a must in any healthy diet plan. You can consume raw carrots or in the form of carrot juice. The choice is yours. This low-calorie food provides essential dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium and many antioxidants. Though they are known for their orange colour, carrots are available in shades of purple, yellow, white and red. There are numerous health benefits of carrots such as it lowers the risk of cancer, improves eye health, reduces weight, improves brain health, maintains oral health and reduces cholesterol levels.
Carrots get their colour from beta-carotene, which is an orange plant pigment and a precursor to active vitamin A. Beta-carotene is also an important antioxidant which is vital for improving immunity level of our body.
It protects our body from free radical damage which causes several chronic diseases like cancer and heart problems.
Carrot nutrition facts
Carrots are highly nutritious and contain many vitamins and minerals. Their water content varies from 86 to 95 percent. They provide very little fat and protein and are low in carbs.
Nutritional profile of carrots (100 grams)
Carrots contain carbohydrates, and more than half of its carbs is sugar (sucrose and glucose) (1). Carrots do not provide as many carbohydrates as other roots vegetables like potatoes.
Carrots also contain starch and fibre, and this keeps the glycemic index of carrots low. The glycemic index of carrots ranges from 16 to 60, lowest being for raw carrots (2).
Low glycemic food is particularly helpful for patients with diabetes (3). Carrots also contain pectin, which is a soluble fibre. Soluble fibres slow down the digestion of sugar and starch.
They also feed the friendly bacteria in the gut and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (4). Fibres also help to lower the blood cholesterol by impairing the absorption of cholesterol from the digestive tract
The insoluble fibres in carrots are hemicellulose and lignin. They reduce the risk of constipation and promote healthy bowel movements (5).
Carrots are packed with vitamins. Here are some of the vitamins found in carrots.
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene which our body can convert into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, organ function and immunity (6). One cup of chopped carrots can provide 430 percent of our daily value for vitamin A. Cooked carrots are an even better source of vitamin A.
Carrots are a rich source of vitamin K. This vitamin is vital for blood clotting and plays a crucial role in building and maintaining healthy bones. One cup of raw carrots provides 21 percent of our daily value for vitamin K (7).
Carrots also contain vitamin C, which is essential for healthy functioning of our immune system. Also, vitamin C plays a vital role in the production of tissues of blood vessels, gums, teeth, bones, muscles and skin. One cup of chopped carrots contains 13 percent of our daily value for vitamin C.
Carrots contain several essential B vitamins. These water-soluble vitamins are responsible for helping our body convert carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy.
One cup of chopped raw carrots contains 9 percent of our daily value for vitamin B6 and 6 percent of the daily values for thiamine, niacin and folate.
Carrots also contain many minerals that you need for good health. They contain calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. Minerals help us in energy metabolism, protein synthesis, fluid balance and red blood cell formation.
Carrots also contain potassium. One cup of raw carrots provides 9 percent of our daily value for potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral which is vital for blood pressure control.
Carrots are an excellent source of manganese. One cup of raw carrots contains 7 percent of our daily value for manganese. Manganese is vital for maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
Carrots also contain many other plant compounds that are essential for good health. These compounds are potent antioxidants that improve immune function and reduce the risk of many diseases.
Orange carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene. It is an orange or red plant pigment and is responsible for the orange colour of carrots. Significantly more beta-carotene is absorbed from carrots that are cooked (8).
This antioxidant is also partially converted to vitamin A.
This antioxidant is essential for eye health.
Lycopene is found in red and purple carrots. It helps in reducing the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease (9).
Polyacetylenes found carrots have been found to be useful in the development of new leukaemia therapies (10).
These antioxidants are found in dark coloured carrots.
Health benefits of carrots
Health benefits of carrots include:
1. Carrots prevent heart diseases
Consumption of carrots has links with lower levels of cholesterol (11). According to researchers at Wolfson Gastrointestinal Laboratory in Edinburgh, if a person consumes seven ounces of carrots per day for three weeks, the cholesterol level can drop by 11 percent.
Scientists have also discovered that eating carrots can reduce the chances of having a heart attack.
Carrots contain potassium which can relax the tension in your blood vessels and arteries and thus improve circulation. This reduces the stress on the cardiovascular system.
Carrots also contain coumarin which is known lower blood pressure and improve heart health (12).
3. Lower risk for cancer
According to research, women with higher circulating levels of carotenes have a lower risk of developing breast cancer (16).
The high fibre content in carrots increase satiety and reduces the calorie intake in subsequent meals (17). This helps in weight loss.
5. Improve eye health
Carrots are rich in lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. All these three nutrients are crucial for boosting eye health (18). Beta-carotene is a form of vitamin A and vitamin A deficiency is linked to poor eyesight and night blindness.
On the other side, lutein and zeaxanthin can help in reducing age-related vision loss risks. Beta-carotene also helps to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of age-related vision loss. (19).
You can consume carrots in the raw form or juice. One cup of chopped carrots or 128 gram can provide you 428% of vitamin A (20).
6. Improves brain health & cognitive function
Raw carrots or carrot juice can protect your brain health by improving memory and cognitive function. It also prevents disease like Alzheimer’s disease due to its ability to decrease oxidative stress in the brain that can weaken nerve signalling ability (21).
7. Maintains Oral Health
Carrots are rich in nutrients that can help in fighting gum and teeth bacteria. There are some minerals found in carrots, such as keratins, which can prevent tooth decay and cavities.
Carrot is a terrific cavity-fighting vegetable which naturally removes plaque and stains from teeth. You should consume this vegetable as a snack between meals and brushing.
8. Maintains skin health & heals wounds
As told you before, a raw carrot or carrot juice has beta-carotene in abundance. Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A and a powerful anti-oxidant. It helps in the healing process of any wound.
It is observed that a 12-week oral administration of beta-carotene resulted in the reduction of UV-induced erythema (22). In short, carrots or carrot juice can help you in the healing of any skin infections, cuts and wounds.
Side effects of eating too many carrots
Though carrots are a healthy vegetable to add to your diet, having too much of carrots can have a few side effects.
Overeating carrots do not give you too much of vitamin A as our body converts only that much of beta-carotene as it needs. However, having too much of carrots can cause carotenemia, which causes yellowish discolouration of the skin.
This condition is evident on the palms and soles of the feet and ears. It is harmless and gradually goes away when we reduce the carrots in the diet.
Constipation & diarrhoea
Carrots are an excellent source of dietary fibre. A sudden increase in dietary fibre consumption can cause loose stools. In some cases, high intake of dietary fibre can also lead to constipation. Increase your fluid intake to take care of this.
Carrots can cause pollen-related allergic reactions in up to 25 percent of people who are allergic to food (23). Proteins in carrots are similar to specific allergy-causing proteins in certain pollens.
This can cause your mouth to tingle or itch and in some severe cases can also lead to allergic shock.
If carrots that you consume have been grown in contaminated soil or contaminated water, it can have serious health implications (24).
Full-size carrots, carrot juice and baby carrots
You get a variety of carrots in the nearby market. Popular ones are full grown carrots whose colour may vary as orange, purple, etc. A few people also like to buy baby carrots which are harvested before they could become full grown in size.
They taste even better than full-grown carrot. Then you have another set of people who do not like to consume raw carrots and usually opt for carrot juice.
But irrespective of size and form, the nutritional value of carrots does not degrade. So, you are free to enjoy all three version of carrots.
Carrot juice benefits
Carrot juice recipe is an excellent option for people who do not prefer to eat raw carrots. Also, when you make carrot juice, fibres of this vegetable are already broken down, and your body does less work to release minerals and vitamins.
Also, regularly drinking carrot juice benefits your immune system, body energy and digestive system. It goes without saying that carrot juice helps you in consuming more number of carrots in less amount of time.
Carrot juice recipe
Take a juicer or blender and use 3-4 large carrots or 6-8 baby carrots for getting enough carrot juice to serve one person.
- Wash carrots nicely and remove any dirt bits that are usually present on carrot’s skin. Some people prefer to peel off carrot’s skin. But I strongly recommend not to do so since the skin contains several vital nutrients.
- Cut the carrots into small pieces which can comfortably fit in your blender or juicer.
- You can add any other fruit juices such as orange, apple, mango, etc. along with water and blend until you get a smooth mixture. Ginger goes well with carrots. So, you can even add 1/2-1 inch ginger while you blend everything.
- Use a strainer and filter out the carrot juice in a glass or bowl. This step won’t be necessary if you are using a juicer.
Final words on health benefits of carrots
Carrots are one of the healthiest vegetables and have numerous health benefits. They are a rich source of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Whether you consume raw carrot, carrot juice or cooked carrots, it will benefit your health in some way or the other.