• Eat Your Carrots!

    The Health Benefits of Carrots.

    The name carrot stems from the Greek work 'Karotan' and the word carotene was given with the carrot in mind. These beautifully simple orange roots were originally only available in purple and white around the 10th Century, with the addition of yellow and red colours around the 15th Century. However, in modern times, they are most widely found in the well recognised colour of orange.

    Originally cultivated in central Asia and the Middle East, the largest producer of carrots is now China with a share estimated to be one third of the worlds production, followed by Russia, although many other countries produce substantial amounts.

    Carrots are most commonly linked to high levels of antioxidants, this is due to their beta-carotene content. Although, more recently research has focused on a phytonutrient called polyacetylenes, which has been linked to cancer, colon cancer cells to be exact. Polyacetylenes have been shown to inhibit the growth of colon cancer calls, the research suggests this may be as a result of an interaction between the carotenoids and polyacetylenes.

    Historically carrots have been known to help people see in the dark, surprisingly there is little evidence to suggest that carrots offer any greater benefit than any other fruit or vegetable containing high amounts of vitamin A. Therefore, the connection may be due to the vitamin A content as it is beneficial for maintaining healthy vision in dim light.
    However, there are studies that link the consumption of carrots to a reduction of glaucoma, a disease affecting damage to the optic nerve and vision loss.

    A ten year study looked at the link between carrots and coronary vascular disease. The study from the Netherlands found that carrots were the single most risk-reducing fruit and vegetable tested, and for those people that ate the most carrots, there was a risk reduction of 33% against coronary vascular disease.
    Carrots also had a benefit in reducing cholesterol by 11% for those people that consumed them daily. Phytonutrients such as falcarinol and falcarindiol are potent compounds with major anti-inflammatory properties, believed to benefit heart health. In addition, these compounds have been shown to reduce the risk of cancerous tumours growing.

    All of these benefits have been found to be effective because of the compounds working together, the synergistic effect of carrot antioxidants is a great example of the importance of consuming a whole, natural food.
    To maximise the benefits of carrots preparation is key because most of the goodness from the carrot is in, or just below the carrot peel. There are numerous phenolic compounds located in the skin, many of which are removed when peeling, prior to cooking.

    What is the nutrient content of carrots?

    A quick look at some of the vitamins and minerals and the role they play in our health.

    Vitamin A
    - Maintains normal skin function
    - Maintains a healthy vision
    - Promotes a healthy functioning immune system
    - Maintains neurological function
    - Reduces inflammation, through fighting free radical damage

    Vitamin C
    - Supports the immune system
    - Increases iron absorption
    - Protects cells from oxidating damage
    - Helps reduce the risk of heart disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke
    - Helps in the formation of collagen, carnitine, and catecholemines.

    Vitamin K

    - Promotes normal healthy clotting
    - Prevents heart disease and arterial calcification
    - Improves vascular health, leading to fewer varicose veins
    - Maintains healthy bones
    - Acts as an adjunct to vitamin D
    - Helps to reduce the risk of developing prostrate cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and leukaemia.

    Potassium - Mineral
    - Supports a healthy nervous system
    - Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
    - Maintains a healthy kidney function
    - Regulates fluid balance
    - Lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
    - Helps to improve bone and muscle health
    - Helps reduce anxiety.

    Pyridoxine - Vitamin B6

    - Protects the immune system
    - Maintains a healthy metabolism
    - Helps to produce energy from food
    - Promotes healthy hormones
    - Maintains healthy cells
    - Assists in the absorption of of vitamin B12
    - Improves neurological function
    - Promotes healthy brain development
    - Reduces premenstrual symptoms
    - Helps to prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease.

    Copper - Mineral
    - Helps to maintain blood volume
    - Produces energy in your cells from carbohydrates
    - Supports the building of strong tissue, including hair and nails
    - Involved in the manufacturing of collagen
    - Helps to maintain a healthy balance of cholesterol
    - Assists in the prevention of premature ageing.

    Thiamine - Vitamin B1

    - Helps to metabolise carbohydrates, fats and proteins
    - Supports the normal functioning of the nervous system
    - Helps to turn carbohydrates into energy
    - Promotes normal brain functioning
    - Helps maintain a healthy digestion
    - Supports the proper functioning of muscles
    - Antioxidant
    - Slows down the progression of Alzheimer's Disease.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. lifesaball's Avatar
      lifesaball -
      Who knew carrots were so healthy
      I may find ways to add more into my diet, they are so cheap and best of all, enjoyed in multiple ways, cooked, juiced, raw, on their own, or mashed into something.
      I have to admit, I do enjoy mine dipped into hummus.
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