The common carrot is orange, but carrots come in a wide array of colors, from white to deep purple. They’re rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, and can protect your heart, reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, protect against cancer, and help control blood sugar.
Here are some of the other ways carrots contribute to good health.
Carrots are packed with antioxidants, which contribute to heart health. They also contain potassium, which is key to controlling blood pressure. And they have a healthy dose of fiber, which can help with weight control and lower your risk of heart disease. Red carrots, such as Atomic Red in our Plant Profiles, contain lycopene, which also supports heart health.
Immune system health
The vitamin C in carrots contributes to a healthy immune system. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells and collagen—an essential component in the production of blood vessels and muscles. Vitamin C also helps your body process iron and prevent infections.
The vitamin K and calcium in carrots contribute to long-term bone health. Vitamin K also helps with the production of the bone protein osteocalcin, a vital component in maintaining good bone density.
Studies have linked carrots to a possible reduction in the risk of many types of cancer due to its high levels of vitamin A and antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein.
The carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin, in carrots act as antioxidants in the ocular system and may delay the development of cataracts. These antioxidants can also help slow or prevent macular degeneration, a progressive and debilitating eye disease.
Carrots are high in insoluble fibers, which can help with constipation. The carrot’s soluble fiber, pectin, can help balance the friendly bacteria in your gut, which can contribute to better health.
Skin and hair health
The vitamins in carrots contribute to healthier hair from the inside out. The beta-carotene contributes to healthier skin in the form of vitamin A. If your skin’s feeling a little on the dry side, drink some carrot juice for a potassium boost. Drinking carrot juice can also help reduce the appearance of scars and blemishes. If you’re not that fond of drinking carrot juice, you can put some carrot pulp on your skin for a little face refresher.
You can have too much of a good thing, and carrots are on that list. Ingesting too much beta-carotene (the compound that makes orange carrots orange) can make your skin turn orange-yellow; not a good look. The condition is called carotenemia, and it’s usually harmless.
However, this over-ingestion of beta-carotene can keep vitamin A from working properly in your body and can affect your vision, bone and skin health, your metabolism, or your immune system. For people with hypothyroidism, it can be a real problem, since people with this condition can’t change beta-carotene to vitamin A at all.
Some people get an itchy mouth when they eat carrots. This is called oral allergy syndrome and is the body’s reaction to proteins in some fruits and vegetables. The good news? Cooked carrots don’t seem to cause allergic reactions.
Did you know that carrots are so healthful? Did you know about the potential pitfalls of over-consuming carrots? Please tell us how you use carrots.