Eating carrots daily can help more than just your eyes. This guide to 11 health benefits of carrots shows why many people call the vegetable a superfood.
Carrots are best known for their ability to improve and protect eyesight. However, the health benefits of carrots extend to other areas of the body, leading many health experts to dub the orange vegetable a superfood. The US Department of Agriculture recommends adults eat at least four servings of vegetables per day, and it’s easy to make carrots a part of your daily diet as they can be eaten both raw and cooked.
1. Cleans Teeth and Gums
There are several foods that act as nature’s toothbrush and the carrot is one of them. One of the health benefits is that the vegetable acts as a natural abrasive that scrubs away plaque and leftover food particles. Since stains can attach themselves to plaque, chewing on carrots at the end of a meal can reduce discoloration and clean the mouth during times when you’re not able to brush your teeth directly after eating. Eating carrots also stimulates the production of saliva, a substance that helps to prevent plaque from forming.
2. A Healthy Dose of Vitamin A: Improving Eyesight
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A—one serving provides 210 percent of the recommended daily amount. This essential vitamin is used by the eyes to maintain good vision. The beta-carotene in the vegetable is converted to vitamin A in the liver and then goes on to combine with a protein called opsin to form rhodopsin. This substance is needed for night and color vision. Regular consumption of carrots may also help to protect the eyes from age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
For more nutritious superfoods checkout our 50 Best Superfoods of 2015
3. Glowing Skin
The health benefits of eating carrots extend to the skin. If your skin looks dull or is showing signs of aging, you can use carrots to get it glowing again. The vitamin A and antioxidants found in carrots help protect skin from sun damage and the harmful effects of the free radicals that are sometimes released during normal metabolic processes. Carrots contain a substance called retinoic acid, which appears to aid the body in maintaining healthy skin. In addition to eating the vegetable, you can reap the health benefits of carrot juice or pulp by applying the concoction directly to the face, using it to treat skin issues such as acne and dryness. Providing your skin with Vitamin A is part of the battle, our skin cells need zinc and other nutrients you can find in many foods like brazil nuts.
4. Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease was the leading cause of death in the United States in 2010. One of the health benefits of carrots is that they can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. A ten-year study of 20,000 men and women conducted in the Netherlands found that people who ate half a cup of the root vegetable daily were significantly less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
5. Cancer Prevention
Cancer prevention may be one of the health benefits of carrots for women and men. In addition to containing antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, carrots produce a natural pesticide called falcarinol, which protects the root vegetables from fungal diseases. Researchers believe that this substance has anticancer properties. Carrots also contain beta-carotene. A study found that people who consumed beta-carotene on a regular basis had a reduced risk of developing colon cancer. Another study found that smokers who didn’t eat carrots were three times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who ate them more than once a week.
6. Flush Out Toxins
Another of the purportedhealth benefit of carrots is that they may help flush toxins out of the body. It’s believed carrots contain properties that help reduce fat and bile in the liver—the removal of these substances leads to a better functioning liver and improved overall health. Combining carrots with leafy greens such as arugula or spinach can take great strides towards improving your overall liver function.
7. Lots of Fiber
One medium carrot contains about .06 ounces of fiber. Fiber is important for a number of reasons. It can help lower blood pressure by reducing the amount of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from the blood, and it aids in cleaning the gastrointestinal tract by picking up debris on its way out of the body. Fiber slows the digestion of food, helping you feel fuller for longer and preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. However, you can only obtain these health benefits of baby carrots and the full-sized version of this root vegetable when you eat them raw or lightly cooked. Juicing carrots removes the beneficial fiber.
8. Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer
The health benefits of carrots for men include reducing the risk of prostate cancer. A study conducted at the University of York found vitamin A and retinoic acid may reduce cancer’s ability to invade the tissues that surround them. Another study done at the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who had diets rich in beta-carotene may have a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.
9. Stroke Prevention
Another Harvard University study followed 90,000 female nurses for eight years and found that women who ate carrots five times per week cut their risk of having a stroke by two-thirds when compared to women who only ate carrots once or less per month. It appears that beta-carotene provides some protection against the onset of this potentially devastating neurological event.
10. Immune System Support
The vitamins in carrots give your immune system a much needed boost. A well-functioning immune system can prevent the onset of common communicable diseases like colds and flu and help your body heal faster if you do fall ill. Much like coconut oil some herbalists believe carrots have antiseptic properties that can prevent infection if you apply shredded or boiled, mashed carrots to cuts.
11. Plenty of Potassium
One cup of raw carrots contains about 400 milligrams of potassium, an electrolyte that is vital to health. Potassium has the potential to carry a small electrical charge throughout the body, which, put simply, is needed for muscle contractions including keeping the heart pumping at a steady rate. Helping your heart maintain a healthy rhythm is just one of the many health benefits of carrots.