Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene and contain a high amount of fibre. Beta carotene is important for eyesight, skin health, and normal growth.
Carrots are a good source of fibre, vitamin C and potassium, as well as vitamin B6, folate, and several minerals including calcium and magnesium.
Carrots have a higher natural sugar content than all other vegetables with the exception of beets. This is why they make a wonderful snack when eaten raw and make a tasty addition to a variety of cooked dishes.
Carrots are often thought of as the ultimate health food. Generations of parents have told their children: “Eat your carrots, they are good for you,” or “It will help you see in the dark.”
Here are some ways in which carrots might be healthful
A variety of dietary carotenoids have been shown to have anti-cancer effects, due to their antioxidant power in reducing free radicals in the body
Studies have found a possible link between diets rich in carotenoids and a lower risk of prostate cancer, but more evidence is needed to confirm whether the link is causal.
Carrots contain beta-carotene. Past studies have concluded that beta-carotene supplementation may reduce the risk of lung cancer.
A meta-analysis published in 2008 found that people with a high intake of a variety of carotenoids had a 21 per cent lower risk of lung cancer, after adjusting for smoking, compared with those who did not.
The same pattern was not true for any individual carotenoid, such as beta-carotenoid. Among smokers, beta-carotene supplementation may increase the risk of lung cancer
Consuming more beta-carotene may reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to researchers who studied 893 people in Japan.
A 2011 study found that carrot juice extract could kill leukaemia cells and inhibit their progression.
Can carrots help you see in the dark? In a way, yes.
Carrots contain vitamin A. A vitamin A deficiency can lead to xerophthalmia, a progressive eye disease that can damage normal vision and result in night blindness, or the inability to see in low light or darkness.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a lack of vitamin A is one of the main preventable causes of blindness in children.
Eating it contributes to vitamin A intake and helps prevent a deficiency. So, in a way, carrots do help you see in the dark. However, most people are unlikely to experience any significant positive changes in their vision from eating carrots, unless they already lack vitamin A.
The antioxidants and phytochemicals in carrots may help regulate blood sugar. Around a quarter of the carbohydrate in carrots is sugar, but the amount of carbohydrate in carrots is relatively small.
According to Harvard Health, the glycemic index of carrots is 39, meaning the impact on blood sugar is fairly low.
A half-cup serving of chopped carrot contains 1.8 grams (g) of fibre and 205 milligrams (mg) of potassium.
Before the age of 50 years, men need 38 g of fibre a day, and women need 25 g. After this age, women need 21 g per day, and men need 30 g.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend consuming a fiber-rich diet and increasing potassium while reducing sodium intake to protect against high blood pressure and heart disease. Carrots offer a good balance of these nutrients.
Carrots contain vitamin C, an antioxidant. This helps boost the immune system and prevent disease. Vitamin C can help reduce the severity of a cold, and the length of time it lasts.
The antioxidant beta-carotene gives carrots their bright orange colour. Beta-carotene is absorbed in the intestine and converted into vitamin A during digestion.
These contain a variety of antioxidants that give them their colour. For example, purple carrots contain anthocyanin, and red carrots are rich in lycopene.
Overconsumption of vitamin A can be toxic to humans. It may cause a slight orange tinge in skin colour, but this not harmful to health.
An overdose of vitamin A is unlikely to happen because of diet alone, but it may result from supplement use.
People who are taking medications derived from vitamin A, such as isotretinoin (Roaccutane) for acne or acitretin for psoriasis, should avoid eating large amounts of carrots, as they could lead to hypervitaminosis A, an overdose of vitamin A.
Anyone who is starting a new medication should check with their doctor about any recommended dietary changes.