There are many reasons why you should root for carrots! Carrots are loaded with nutrients and lend themselves to a wide range of delicious dishes. Although the vegetable is popularly associated with improving eyesight, their benefits go much beyond.
Historical records show carrots were cultivated in Persia and Afghanistan in the 10th century. However, in those days, this root vegetable had little resemblance to what we eat now and came in different colors, like purple yellow, red, and white. While it cannot be confirmed, it is said that the Dutch developed the carrots that we eat today. There are many types of carrots with varying sizes, flavors, and tastes. However, when it comes to health benefits, all varieties of carrots are equally healthy and full of essential nutrients.
Table of Contents
Nutritional value of carrots
Raw carrots (1 medium-sized carrot) – 29 calories
- Protein – 0.6g
- Carbohydrates – 5.8g
- Dietary fiber – 1.7g
- Fat – 0.1g
Carrots are the richest plant-based source of a type of carotenoid called beta-carotene with 8285 micrograms of beta-carotene per100 grams.
An interesting fact about carrots is that their nutritional value changes – for the better – when cooked. Most other vegetables tend to lose their nutrient value after they are cooked. Studies show more of beta-carotene is absorbed by the body when carrots are eaten cooked rather than the raw form.
Top 9 benefits of consuming carrots
Here’s a complete lowdown on all the amazing benefits that carrots bring:
#1 Boosts the immune system
Our immune system is made up of many organs and specialized cells, such as white blood cells. One type of WBCs called lymphocytes (T and B lymphocytes) recognize harmful invaders and produce antibodies to destroy them. Other types of WBCs, called phagocytes, protect the body by ingesting harmful bacteria and viruses. Many studies show beta-carotene, which comes from carrots, protects phagocytic cells from getting damaged and boosts the response of T and B lymphocytes.
#2 Promotes eye health
Vitamin A, in recommended quantities, is essential for good vision, and carrots offer this nutrient in abundance. When a person is deprived of vitamin A for too long, the outer segment of the eye’s photoreceptors begin to deteriorate, thereby leading to night blindness and other eye-related problems. Therefore, including it in your diet will not only keep you healthy but also facilitate healthy vision.
#3 Aids weight loss
Looking to lose weight?! Carrots are a great addition to your diet as they are low in calories and high in fiber content. Carrot sticks will keep you full until lunch and thus will stop you from bingeing. Moreover, carrots help in bile secretion which helps to burn fat and thus aid weight loss.
#4 Nourishes and keeps hair healthy
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is an important nutrient that is linked to the health of many tissues, including hair, skin, and sebaceous glands (oil glands in the skin). An animal model study showed that dietary vitamin A accelerates hair growth by activating the stem cells in hair follicles.
#5 Creates glowing skin
Some common skin problems are dullness, dryness, scars, and wrinkles. Beta-carotene present in carrots is converted to vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A and it’s derivative called retinoids are known to play a key role in many cellular processes, including growth and differentiation of cells. Studies show that retinoids stimulate the growth of new cells thereby promoting firmer, healthier, and younger-looking skin
#6 Protects your teeth
Low levels of vitamin A impacts oral health and is linked to periodontitis (gum infection) and gingivitis (gum inflammation), which can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene that provides adequate vitamin A. Chewing carrots can also help fight plaque by generating saliva that exerts an anti-bacterial effect.
#7 Can help lower blood pressure
Carrots are rich in potassium, which helps in controlling blood pressure. Potassium helps your kidneys work more efficiently and neutralizes the effect of high salt intake that is linked to blood pressure.
#8 Promotes digestion
Carrots are a fair source of dietary fiber providing about five grams in each. Fiber encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that promote digestion, apart from preventing constipation.
#9 Promotes overall health
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cancers, and heart disease, are linked to ‘free radical damage.’ Free radicals are produced in the body during metabolism, but also have external sources such as cigarette smoke and air pollution. Antioxidants in carrots neutralize these free radicals to promote health.
3 Healthy recipes to consume carrots
Carrots’ sweet and earthy taste is a wonderful flavor to feature. There are many ways you can include them in your everyday diet. Here are some delicious carrot recipes that give your bag of forgotten carrots the attention it deserves. Each one of them takes advantage of the vegetable’s unique sweet and earthy flavor in sugary, savory, and spicy ways you probably haven’t seen or experienced before.
#1 Carrot lettuce wrap
- Serves 2
- Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Cooking time: 5 minutes
- Fresh iceberg lettuce: 2 leaves
- Ginger grated: ½ teaspoon
- Garlic – 2 cloves finely chopped
- Green chili – 2
- Onions sliced – 1
- Carrot julienned – 1 small
- Sweet corn – 3 tablespoon
- Lime juice – 1 tablespoon
- Soy and chili sauce: 1 teaspoon each or to taste
- Oil – 1 tablespoon
For the filling:
- Heat oil in a pan and add ginger, garlic, green chilies, onions, and stir fry for a minute.
- Add sweet corn and carrots. Add lime juice, soy, and chili sauce and sauté for one minute.
- Remove from heat and add salt to taste.
For the roll:
- Wash and separate lettuce leaves. Spoon in 1 to 2 tablespoon of the filling in each leaf.
- Roll and serve.
#2 Carrot sprouts paratha
- Serves 2
- Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Cooking time: 10 minutes
- Carrot – 1 medium chopped
- Potato – 1 small
- Green gram sprouts – 2 tablespoons
- Whole wheat or multigrain flour – 3 cups
- Ginger chopped – ¼ teaspoon
- Dry mango powder and black pepper powder – ¼ teaspoon each
- Oil for shallow frying
- Coriander leaves chopped – 1 tablespoon
- Red chili powder – ¼ teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Pressure cook carrots and potatoes.
- Lightly steam sprouts.
- Grind carrots in a mixer to make a puree and mash potatoes.
- Mix all ingredients to make a smooth dough. Cover and keep for 30 minutes.
- Pinch small size balls of dough. Sprinkle some flour and roll the paratha to about the same size as that of a roti.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and place the rolled paratha. Once the base is partially cooked, flip the paratha. Brush little oil and cook. Once brown spots appear, flip on the other side, cook well and serve.
#3 Carrot sunshine drink
- Serves 4
- Preparation time 10 minutes
- Carrots peeled and chopped – ¾ cup
- Tomatoes chopped – 1.5 cups
- Oranges – 2 medium separated into segments
- Lemon juice – few drops
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Crushed ice – 1 cup (optional)
- Organic Honey – 1 teaspoon (optional)
- Combine all ingredients and blend in the juicer by adding half-cup of water
- Put crushed ice in four glasses and pour the juice and serve immediately
Carrots are super rich sources of fiber, beta-carotene, and minerals; while being low in calories and sugar. From boosting eye health to promoting immunity, carrots offer wide-ranging health benefits. While they are commercially available year-round, these versatile root vegetables are simple to add to meals whether raw or cooked.