Carrots - Comprehensive Guide to Benefits and Nutrition
Carrots - Comprehensive Guide to Benefits and Nutrition

As a species we've been trying to improve and implement better, healthier diets. As the challenge between handling the volume of people that exist on the planet today, alongside trying to produce food at a volume high enough so that everyone can eat, we've found ourselves moving down an increasingly processed way of thinking.

Processed foods, fast food options, and affordable, cheap foods that are just as nutritious as their price means that many people are eating foods that - put simply - are nowhere near good enough for them.

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One food that has maintained a relative staple in or lives are carrots. The benefits of carrots are often lost on people and, because of this, they tend to fall to the wayside as a food we should eat more of.

In this article, we're going to take a much closer look at the benefits carrots can provide to the average person. If you are trying to improve your nutritional intake and want to find a food that you can make work for you time and time again, this guide should help you see why adding carrots to your weekly shop makes sense.

One of the major issues with carrots is the color. Depending on what kind of carrot you are eating, you could be getting a different nutritional profile from doing so. Because of that, it helps to know that carrots arrive in a whole host of colors – from white and yellow to purple and red. The most common form of carrot is orange. Depending on what kind of carrot you are eating, you can get a rather different intake.

Carrots

Typically, though, eating carrots is a worthwhile venture regardless of the color. They provide our bodies with huge amounts of vitamins that we need. For example, carrots are loaded with vitamins such as A, B1/2/3/6, C, E and K, fiber, biotin, manganese, pantothenic acids, copper, folates, phosphorus and more. For that reason, eating carrots on a regular basis can be one of the smartest moves that you make from a nutritional point of view.

Making sure that you have an ample variance in the foods that you eat is always important, but carrots make a very useful and consistent side. From having it through a meal to having it as a part of your side of vegetables, you'll find carrot are easy to blend into most foods.

In this article, then, we'll look at how eating carrots can make a great way to give yourself a little helping hand of improving your general quality of life. Not only do these make a great general food to eat, but their wonderfully diverse nutrition profile makes them the perfect companion for those who are looking to eat the right foods for everything from getting into shape to losing weight.

So, let's take a look at the various and varied health benefits of carrots. What makes the carrot so useful for general improvement?

What Are Carrots?

Before we go any further, it pays to look closer at what a carrot actually is. As a rather diverse root vegetable, many people can find it hard to classify or fully understand the carrot. To help you make the right choice, we recommend that you read this section to "get" what you are eating.

The actual term carrot stems from the old Greek word karoton. The reason for this is that the first three letters of the word, kar, is used within Greek language to point to anything that has a sharp or horn-like style to it. As a carrot is definitely within this range, it makes a perfect and fitting name for this particular vegetable.

However, more impressively, the carrot hasn't just become a source of conventional naming: it's actually been used to name other things. Within carrots are large amounts of what is known as beta-carotene, and, as you might guess, the name of beta-carotene is actually named after the word carrot. This has become a very popular part of carrot mythology: they are so good for us, we had to name one of its positive ingredients after the carrot itself!

Carrots, as mentioned above, come in a huge collection of colors and styles. From the very popular orange carrot – the most commonly consumed form of the vegetable – to purple indigo and maroon carrots, to amarillo yellow and white satin, you can find carrots in a variety of colors. This obviously makes it much harder to define the carrot, as various forms of the vegetable can be mistaken for something else entirely due to the color changes.

Carrots themselves are part of the daucus carota species of plant. Known to most scientists as the apiaceae grouping of vegetables, the carrot comes from a large family of distinctive and specific root vegetables. From the likes of parsnip to celery, this family of vegetables should really make up a staple part of your diet. The sheer volume of health benefits of carrots alone, not to mention its brethren, make it a very powerful source of general health improvement.

The family grouping of carrots, though, contains more than just a few crunchy vegetables. One such part of the family might actually be commonly combined with most basic, wholesome meals that a carrot would be part of. The likes of coriander, caraway, fennel, and parsley all fall into this collection.

These fine herbs and spices make some of the most powerful and delectable tasting goods for you to enjoy, and ensures that you can see that the benefits of carrots can be enjoyed alongside some other outstandingly rich and natural flavors.

So, how did we go to become aware of the carrot? The vegetable itself has been a staple for centuries – but when did we first realize its rich potential?

Carrot Soup

The History of the Carrot

Typically, carrots are so popular because of how and where they can grow. Found in Africa, Asia, and Europe, carrots are commonly grown across the world. For this reason they are one of the most regularly abundant foods found in the world.

Their regular usage and enjoyment from other parts of the world, though, has prompted the movement of carrots to many parts of the world where they once did not grow to be cultivated. It's a major part of diets in the United States now, having spread to just about part of the world as a primary part of many healthy and enjoyable dishes.

Indeed, over 40 million tons of carrots are grown in one single year. This huge volume showcases why a shortage of carrots can be very hard to find yourself dealing with. Add in the fact that many of the major population centers of the world grow them in abundance, and it's easy to see why it's such a simple task finding carrots at a store or market.

China is apparently the major producer of all carrots – with a whopping 45% of global produce created in China alone. Russia and Uzbekistan combine to make up another 9% of that total, while the US – a location that never naturally grew carrots in the past – make up just under 4% of the global total. Over the years, then, it has spread as being a food that is regularly enjoyed.

Other notable producers of carrots include the likes of the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, France and Turkey. It has become one of the most commonly enjoyed foods in the world because of this abundance of availability – and is also one of the key reasons why, even as other goods and vegetables soar in price due to demand, carrots have always remained comparatively affordable.

According to stats from the US, though, people eat just a ¼ cup of carrots in a single week. Given the huge benefits of carrots, eating more of this vegetable should be a priority for anyone who is looking to vastly improve their quality of life. Alongside potatoes, tomatoes and sweetcorn, carrots are up there as one of the most regularly enjoyed and eaten foods of its kind.

That being said, there is a growing demand to try and improve intake to at least double the amount that is consumed at present.

Now that you are more aware of the make-up and history of the carrots, as well as general production and consumption levels, you can hopefully see the myriad health benefits provided by eating such a vegetable on a regular basis.

To help you make a more consistent choice in the years to come, let's take a look at the benefits of carrots from a medical point of view. As vegetables that are loaded with positives, let's take a closer look at why carrots are recommended as one of your most commonly consumed foods whether you are looking to build up in size or just eat a little bit better.

Antioxidant Benefits of Carrots

One of the most important factors in eating carrots, though, stems from their rich and diverse nutritional profile. They are known as one of the most powerful and commonly available supply of antioxidants, helping to make sure you can give your body all the help it needs to combat the effects of oxidization and free radicals.

The world we love in is full of components that can damage our body and our organs: with the help of antioxidants, we can fight back against such problems. So, with that in mind, let's take a look at the various benefits of carrots from an antioxidant perspective.

Carrots are loaded with the most standard and specific of antioxidants. All of the major vitamin groups mentioned above are found in abundance within the carrot, meaning that your body is getting access to some of the most important antioxidants from the off.

Add in the huge levels of beta-carotene, one of the most powerful forms of carotenoids alongside alpha-carotene and lutein, and it's easy to see why your nutritional intake improves massively by eating carrots.

It's also got a fine collection of different forms of antioxidants outside of this. From ferulic, caffeic and coumaric acids as well as cyanidins and malvidins, it's easy to see why the benefits of carrots are so wide-reaching. This comes with an extensive and rich collection of nutritional benefits. Each of the above antioxidants play a critical role in improving your general quality of life.

Indeed, the collection of anthocyanin nutrients that are found within carrots are one of their primary benefits. These can be harder to find in orange carrots, though, so if this is a key part of your carrot intake improvement then be sure to look at darker carrots - the deeper and darker the shade of red, almost to a black, the better.

While carrots of all colors will provide you with each of the antioxidants above, the darker carrots tend to be more anthocyanin-heavy. It depends on what you are looking to eat your carrots for, but the majority of carrot blends will come with at least something from each of these groups.

As ever, be sure to try and buy organic produce. This helps to maximize the amount of nutrition found within a single carrot, and is sure to help maximize the level of antioxidant benefits your body receives.

Antioxidants

Lifestyle Benefits of Eating Carrots

One of the benefits of carrots, though, isn't just its long list of antioxidants and healing properties – there is far more to the carrot than this alone. Without doubt, they are one of the most powerful and effective form of food to eat for a whole host of reasons.

Not only are carrots extremely rich in the benefits listed above, studies have shown that they can have a pretty significant benefit to the way that our bodies act. With the help of the right kind of organic carrots, you can really help to improve many aspects of your life that few other vegetables can assist with.

Indeed, studies show that out of all foods that fall into the yellow/orange family of vegetables, carrots have the most effective properties for helping to combat problems such as cardiovascular disease.

The wonderful concoction within a carrot means that it brings as many variables to the party to combat heart disease and other cardio problems than arguably any other food on the market today.

Heart Benefits of Eating Carrots

By eating a cup-full of carrots, you can increase your chances of beating cardiovascular problems by a whopping margin. Just one single serving of carrots with your lunch or dinner each day could be enough to help you really stave off some of the issues that you fear you might need to deal with in terms of cardiovascular problems.

Many people can suffer quite seriously from a negative and inactive lifestyle. For example, those who work in non-physical roles such as IT can find it quite hard to maintain a fit and active lifestyle before and after work. Because of this, it pays to really invest some extra time into eating the right foods to try and prevent the on-set of negative lifestyle problems such as cardiovascular disease and a lack of physical fitness.

While eating carrots isn't going to turn you into Usain Bolt, it's going to stop your heart from being put under excessive pressure and then falling ill. So, do yourself a favor and make sure that you do what you can to invest some time and money into eating more of these root vegetables.

So, what are the primary factors within a carrot that does a good job of helping your body fight back against common cardiovascular complaints?

Vitamin A. The first and most common reason for carrots being a strong cardio protective system is their rich sources of vitamin A. Known to help combat the problems of heart disease, this helps to prevent a problem known as ventricular hypertrophy - when hour ventricular walls get thicker and prevents your body from working normally. Also, it helps to ensure that your heart tissue can retain a greater level of strength and is going to help strengthen the heart to avoid the risk of heart failure.

Vitamin K. Another powerful aid in this battle is the introduction of Vitamin K into the system. Vitamin K is rich in positive cardio assistance, mainly because it works alongside the Gas6 protein. This helps to improve the way that cells communicate and work together, ensuring that your heart is under less pressure. It also works to help reduce the chances of problems such as blood clotting and excessive bleeding.

Vitamin C. The 'other' vitamin that helps the heart out, though, is known to be a powerful solution for giving your heart a bit of extra grit and strength. Vitamin C plays a critical role in reducing our chance of things like heart disease from forming, and can also reduce your chances of suffering fatally from the condition.

With this, you can take in a good proportion of your daily needed amount of this particular vitamin, making sure that your body is more likely to be ready to combat the effects of poor cardiovascular conditioning. One of the main benefits of carrots, then, is their unique profile of vitamins.

Each of these helpful vitamin trios will work to help to make sure that your body is more likely to avoid cardiovascular problems. That being said, though, you should never disregard the importance of clear and consistent working out and exercise to help make sure your heart is not put under excessive duress.

If you are looking to make sure you can combat an inactive lifestyle or a diet that puts a lot of pressure on the heart, adding carrots in will certainly help. They make a fine solution for trying to reduce the strain your diet places on the body.

Despite one of the primary benefits of carrots being the cardio assistance it can offer you, though, there is much more to this product than just that. What other benefits can one derive from eating a more regular amount of carrots, then? How else can they help your body improve?

Carrots

General Benefits of Carrots

Carrots are a product that, when eaten regularly and with consistency, can be just what your body needs for that extra dose of nutrition. Carrots, though, given their rich and variable collection of nutrients and vitamins, do far more for you than just help reduce cardiovascular complaints!

Studies are abundant on the health benefits of eating carrots – they are also known to help improve various parts of your life. Just some of the consistent health benefits that you can derive from eating carrots on a regular basis, then, includes helping to improve various parts of the body, including:

Combating excessive blood pressure. One of the most powerful parts of carrots is that they can really help to give the body a helping hand in fighting back against high blood pressure. The next time you find yourself steaming with anger, grab a carrot and take a big Bugs Bunny chomp right out of it!

Why? Because carrots are loaded with potassium, which is one of the most powerful forms of vasodilator that we know of, meaning it reduces pressure on blood vessels. This improves blood flow, making it much easier for you to reduce the chances of strokes, heart attacks and so much more.

Improving your immune system. Another nice touch thanks to the help of the carrot, though, is the fact that it helps to give the body a better chance of fighting back against illness. Carrots are loaded with powerful anti-septic and anti-bacterial solutions, meaning that they can be a great choice for giving the immune system a chance to get strengthened. If you find that you fall ill quite a lot, then improving your white blood cell count can make sure that you improve your immunity and that you can improve your general quality of life.

Combat cancer. Carrots aren't just good for making sure you can feel improve your immunity - it can even work as a powerful prevention solution for cancers. It's been shown to help reduce the likelihood of common cancers such as lung cancer.

Indeed, carrots that are high in fiber can also help to reduce the chances of colon cancer, and breast cancer in women. While more research is needed, we do know that beta-carotene is a powerful solution for trying to prevent the on-set of such problems, making it much easier for you to feel more resistant to significant illness.

Better dental health. Our mouths are a breeding ground for the kind of problems you want to avoid. With the help of carrots, we can stimulate better saliva production meaning that we can combat bacteria through the alkaline nature of our saliva. This helps to reduce the chance of cavities, halitosis, bad breath and other common dental problems that you might be fretting over.

Digestive assistant. Another great part of eating carrots, too, is that they can do a rather exceptional job of making sure you can digest your food a little bit easier than you could have in the past. The large volumes of dietary fiber in these root vegetables is one of the primary benefits of carrots.

For one, it helps to bulk up stool, meaning it passes much easier and without any of the usual stress or strain that going to the loo can bring. Add in the fact it reduces your chances of constipation and other similar problems, and it's easy to see why carrots are so great for the digestive tract.

Stroke assistant. If you want to make sure that your body is running at an optimum level, ensuring that you have the means to combat the risk of a stroke is very important. With the help of the beta-carotene, you can strengthen the heart even further and make sure that your chances of suffering from strokes are massively reduced today.

Strengthening eyesight. Beginning to feel like you need those glasses on and that your vision is beginning to let you down a fair chunk? Then it's almost certainly time to do something about that.

The large quantities of Vitamin A ensure that you can improve your chances of seeing in the darkness. It's not going to turn you into a walking set of night-vision goggles, but it will vastly improve how you can see in the darkness. It also helps to slow down or reduce your chances of old-age blindness.

Maximizing muscle strength. Over time, the signs of aging begin to get a little worse and, in time, we'll find it harder to feel the same strength in our muscles that we once did. From those who are reaching their senior years to those who do a lot of bodybuilding, eating carrots can help to optimize muscle strength and make your life a little easier from reducing muscular degeneration chances to ensuring your body has the beta-carotene needed to help reduce muscular damage, carrots ensure your body can retain a greater resistance to the signs of aging.

Diabetic assistant. Another powerful part of eating these kinds of foods, though, stems from their ability to help you manage your diabetes. They are great for regulating sugar levels in the body, thanks to the large volume of carotenoids in your system when eating these.

It helps to reduce insulin resistance and can help to lower blood sugar, making sure that your life does not need to be massively affected by your condition - it's powerful for general regulation of diabetes.

Storing Carrots Safely

Now that you can see closely the wide health benefits of carrots, it pays to know how to best look after these products so that they retain the best bonuses for your body. Carrots that you buy should come with smooth, straight roots that feel very firm. Really, you also want to try and eat carrots that are as rich and as vibrant in color as they can be - the richer it is in depth, the more beta-carotene there is inside.

The darker the stem is, though, the older the carrot is and the closer it is to being off. The same goes got the green tops if they are left on the carrot - the richer and greener they are, the better. Looking at your vegetables, if they do not match the above description then the benefits of carrots might not be quite as apparent in that particular batch.

As ever, you should be looking to buy only organic carrots - the price difference is nowhere near large enough to be off-putting. This reduces the chances of having problems with the way they are grown, as organic carrots are free of chemically-managed pesticides and the like. If you can, look for a local market or grocer who grows their own carrots and, if they fit the above detail, make sure you buy from this person instead.

Storing your carrots, then, should be all about making sure they are getting as little moisture loss as possible. Make a section in the refrigerator just for your carrots, and wrap them up in a plastic bag if you can.

This reduces condensation from forming and can make sure that moisture loss from the carrot is as small as it can be. As carrots age, they lose some of the many carrot benefits listed above.

Therefore, keeping them stored in this manner will masterfully reduce the amount of time that they have to go off and lose some of that quality. Make sure they are kept free from any other fruits and vegetables, too, as mixing them together can lead to a really unenjoyable, bitter taste to form.

Storage is nice and easy - so make sure you take the time to do so. From knowing what to look for to ensuring they are fresh to enjoy the many benefits of carrots, you can make sure that your purchase decisions are much clearer.

Making the Most of Your Carrots

When it comes to actually using these root vegetables, you want to be cooking in a way that will allow you to get the full benefits of carrots in your system. Start off by washing them thoroughly, giving them a good scrub to get rid of any build-up that you cannot see. If you buy organic carrots, then you can avoid the peeling process - thankfully.

Given that most people worry about cooking their carrots, though, you should be aware that one of the primary carrot benefits - beta-carotene - is more or less resistant to heat.

Just to be on the safe side, make sure you keep a close eye on the cooking process so you know exactly how they are coming along. The best way to avoid over-heating carrots, then, is to use a steaming method of cooking. This allows for your carrots to enjoy the best build-up of nutritional intake.

Steaming allows you to get the most out of your carrots without excessive heat exposure, unnecessary cooking times and reducing the amount of time your foods spend submerged in liquid. Simply get your hands on a steamer, and then fill up the bottom of the steamer with around 2" of water.

Once at this point, ensure that you place it on the fastest boiling option available to you. Get your carrots diced up to as thin as you can get them within reason, and then stick them in the steamer. This should take around five minutes, if that, and then you can transfer them to the bowl.

It's a very easy way to make sure that you handle the preparation and care of the carrots with the right level of precision. When taken seriously, this can amplify flavor without seeing the carrot lose any of its original flavor. If you want the benefits of carrots without ruining the taste, invest in a steamer.

Health Concerns with Carrots

However, despite the various health benefits of carrots, there are some issues that you should be aware of. For one, someone who eats a little too much of our root vegetable friends can contract something that is known as keratoderma. This is a damaging skin condition that can make you look like you are turning into a carrot yourself!

Your skin will start to take on an almost-yellow hue, sometimes with a touch of orange in there. This happens, we understand, from the body having an excessive level of carotene in the blood and this can cause you a whole host of problems. While keratoderma is yet to be fully understood or know exactly what kind of problems it can cause, it's at the very least a very embarrassing condition to be dealing with.

This means that your body has to find somewhere to store all of that carotene, and it will go for your skin as the perfect storage point. If you do start to notice your skin beginning to form this rather ugly tint to it, then the solution is simple – reduce your carrot intake. Get it down to a more lenient level and you should notice the problem begin to reduce and leave you with your usual balanced, natural skin tone instead.

As ever, though, you should take the time to go and see a health professional if this problem creeps up. Knowing how much you need to specifically reduce is going to be important to ensure you can keep getting the benefits of carrots without going overboard. It can take some time to balance it out, but it's certainly possible.

Improving Carrot Intake

While the benefits of eating carrots should stand out to you now, it's still a challenge trying to convince yourself to eat more of this vegetable. Trying to include them in all of your dinner meals, for example, can be a challenge that most people with limited cooking creativity will struggle with. To help you get around that problem, then, we recommend that you try and use grated carrots more often.

It can easily be put into things like oatmeal in the morning and eaten that way. While it might not be the most appealing way to eat more carrots, the finely grated nature of it mixed in with the oatmeal should ensure that the taste remains relatively well disguised.

Also, try and eat your carrots with a little helping of cooking or olive oil and you can make sure your body absorbs rich nutrients such as vitamins A and K accordingly. This helps your body to continue to absorb the nutrition needed from the carrot, as extra (good) fats will kick up their absorption rate.

Either way, you should so what you can to improve your carrot intake. As you can see, the numerous carrot benefits are clear!

Conclusion

As the most powerful source of beta-carotene on the planet, then, the health benefits of carrots have been made clear. To help you make sure that you are eating better and feeling more confident on how your body runs itself, then, adding carrots into your daily diet is much recommended.

Their wonderful collection of phytonutrients such as alpha-carotene and lutein make it a great food to eat thanks to its ambitious nutritional profile. Add in the fact that carrots can carry a rich and sweet taste (good, organic carrots anyway!) and you can find it very easy to start eating with ore precision than beforehand.

From the large collection of vitamins to being a wonderful source of healthy dietary fiber, the benefits of carrots should be something you have no doubt about any longer. If you are looking for food to add into your collection and into your vegetable tray, then the enjoyable and quality taste of carrots should never be disregarded.

These are comfortably one of the most enjoyable solutions that you can include in a variety of meals for a balanced, strong and consistent range of various nutrients entering your system. The next time you are out shopping, then, be sure to grab some carrots!