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At first, carrots were grown mostly for their seeds and aromatic leaves. Scientist found some seeds in Southern Germany and Switzerland that date back to 3000 BC.
The ancestors of carrots, the wild carrots, came from Iran and Afghanistan.
During World War II, an urban legend, developed from many stories, states that eating large amount of carrots can help one to see in the dark.
Carrots are not only orange; one can find purple, red, yellow and white carrot.
There are two groups of carrot cultivators. Eastern carrots were domesticated in Central Asia in the 10th century, while western carrots emerged in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
In California, the city of Holtville holds an annual festival devoted to carrots. The city is called “Carrot Capital of the World”.
There is nothing mysterious about carrots, right?
We eat it, and enjoy it.
On the other hand, sometimes we do forget its true value and benefits.
Nutritional Value of Carrots
With its crunchy texture and sweet taste, carrots are very high in vitamins and dietary fibre, thus necessary part of our every day nutrition. Without cholesterol and only 41 calories per 100 grams, carrots are very lucrative.
They are known to be one of the essential vegetables for our vision and skin. Due to the carotenes and vitamin A, they are natural anti-oxidants. 100 grams of fresh carrots contains 8285 µg of beta-carotene and 16706 IU of vitamin A. On one hand, beta-carotene helps the body protect from harmful free radicals, while vitamin A is essential for eyesight, and body growth and development.
Fresh roots are known to be excellent source of vitamin C. As another anti-oxidant, vitamin C maintains healthy connective tissue in the body. It protects against free radicals as well. Roots are also great source of vitamins such as folic acid, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamin K and vitamin B-6. As for the minerals, carrots are rich in cooper, calcium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.
It is also important to mention that carrots contain free sugar such as glucose, sucrose, xylose and fructose.
Recent studies and researches showed that carrots are powerful vegetables for fighting against cancer. They are rich in poly-acetylene antioxidant known as falcarinol. This compound is able to destroy pre-cancerous cells in the tumours.
Health Benefits of Carrots
Although the above-mentioned legend is only a myth, it does indicate how beneficial carrots are for the vision and for the prevention of different vision disorders. The fact is that the retina of the eye needs vitamin A and those who are lacking it can have night blindness or even other serious problems. Due to the rich content of beta-carotene, carrots are also rich source of vitamin A. This substance converts in vitamin A in the liver, and in retina, this vitamin is transformed into rhodopsin, a pigment necessary for night vision. Moreover, beta-carotene protects against the development of senile cataracts and macular degeneration, the common eye disease of elderly.
Prevention of different heart diseases
Due to the carotenoids, carrots are necessary for the prevention of different heart diseases and for the reduction of LDL cholesterol level. According to the studies, which were conducted in Gastrointestinal Laboratory in Edinburgh, raw carrots can reduce the cholesterol level by 11 percent if eaten every day for three weeks. Carrots contain soluble fibre that helps bind and remove bile acids, thus lower the blood cholesterol, and because cholesterol is major factor for heart diseases, regular consumption of carrots can prevent heart problems. Carotenoids are also responsible for the regulation of blood sugar level because they affect insulin resistance.
Carrots for skin protection
Carrots are necessary for the skin protection, both from the inside and outside. As mentioned, carrots are rich source of antioxidant, and due to these compounds (vitamin A and beta-carotene), they protect the skin from damage. Lack of vitamin A causes dryness to the skin, and affects the hair and the nails. Regular intake of the food rich in vitamin A prevents skin dryness, pigmentation, blemishes, uneven skin tone, acne, and premature wrinkling. For instance, due to the cleansing properties, carrots are effective detoxifying food. Because carrots detoxify the liver, they remove toxins from the body and prevent the appearance of the acne. For external usage, when mixed with honey, carrots are used as facial mask.
Antioxidants are necessary for our body due to their ability to fight against free radicals. Fighting against free radical affects the aging process of the cells. Beta – carotene slows down the aging of the cells and repairs the cell damage done by the body.
For healthy teeth and gums, carrots are perfect food. Due to the ability to act as natural abrasives, carrots eliminate dirt and plague from teeth and gums. The minerals in carrots help kill germs in mouth and prevent mouth damage. Because carrots trigger saliva, they also balance out the formation of acids and prevent the formation of bacteria.
Carrot juice in particular helps with many health problems. Drinking carrot juice every day can help with anaemia, for instance. Molecules in carrots are very close to haemoglobin molecules, and due to that, they are very powerful in blood building. Carrot juice can also help with fertility and the quality of mother’s milk. Drinking this juice during pregnancy is very beneficial for both mother and the baby.
Carrots in general have anti-inflammatory properties, and they help reduce rheumatism, arthritis, gout and other inflammations.
Overall, they are excellent for the immunity system because they increase the production of white blood cells.
Raw, cooked, or mashed, carrots do not lose on their nutritional value. One carrot a day for an optimum health is all one needs.
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Hodies, E. (2013). Eat the Damn Carrot: Maximizing Your Health in the Face of Illness. Eric Hodies.
Matejkova J. and Petrikova K. (2010). Variation in Content of Carotenoids and Vitamin C in Carrots . Notulae Scientia Biologicae, Vol: 2, Pages: 88-91.
Nicolle C., Simon G., Rock E. et al. (2004). Genetic Variability Influences Carotenoid, Vitamin, Phenolic, and Mineral Content in White, Yellow, Purple, Orange, and Dark-orange Carrot Cultivars. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci., Issue: 129: Pages: 523-529.
Saunders-Smith, G. (2000). Carrots (Plants). Pebble Books.
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Last article update: 3/22/2019