Carrots are one of the easiest vegetables to get your kids (or picky partner) to eat at dinnertime, as they are sweet, tasty and have great texture. However, carrots have a whole lot more than delicious flavor to offer us. Many of us may be aware of carrots’ positive impact on our eyesight, but we think you’ll be happy with some of the other nutritional benefits this orange veggie contains as well.
1. Carrots are essential for eye health.
This is probably the most widely known nutritional benefit of carrots, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. This orange veggie gets its color partly from beta-carotene, in the carotenoid family of antioxidants. Beta-carotene helps to prevent against age-related eye diseases, like macular degeneration. Keep your eyes healthy with a daily serving of this nutrient.
2. Carrots boost your immunity.
Beta-carotene also helps produce vitamin A in the body, which is vital for boosting your body’s defense system, especially during cold and flu season. Vitamin A helps our body respond to intruders and regenerate new cells to stay strong. Now we know why carrots are an essential ingredient in everyone’s go-to sick meal, chicken noodle soup.
3. Carrots are good for your heart.
Research shows carrots could protect against hypertension and cardiovascular disease and could even help lower cholesterol. Increasing your vegetable intake in general is associated with improved heart health, and yellow-red-orange vegetables (like carrots) all have heart disease-fighting powers.
4. Carrots do wonders for your skin.
Whether you’re looking for that fresh glow or are wanting a scrape to heal ASAP, carrots can help. Those carotenoids we mentioned earlier are skin warriors — retinol, biotin and lycopene are all hidden inside the humble carrot, so keep munching your way to healthier, softer skin.
5. Carrots help fight inflammation.
Now that we know carrots are full of important nutrients, like vitamin A and beta-carotene, we can see their importance in an anti-inflammatory diet. Both of these nutrients help fight inflammation, along with fiber and an antioxidant called luteolin. Fiber helps prevent chronic disease, keeps you regular and boosts your gut health. Just one medium-sized carrot will get you about 10% of your daily fiber recommendation. Promising research also shows that luteolin’s anti-inflammatory properties could help stave off lung, prostate, stomach and breast cancer. Pretty impressive for a little orange veg!
6. Carrots keep your mind sharp.
Luteolin offers another pretty amazing health benefit–keeping your brain as young as you are. Carrots not only can help boost your memory, but can also help prevent cognitive decline. Between boosting your eye, brain and skin health, carrots might just be the new fountain of youth.
The Bottom Line
Scarfing down a bushel of carrots every day is not a guaranteed fix for aging skin and declining eyesight, but this veggie can certainly do some heavy lifting. Try to incorporate some carrots — or another red, yellow or orange veggie — into your daily diet to get a super-easy and delicious nutrient boost (but don’t forget about the other colors of the rainbow!).
EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.
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