Carrots are one of the world’s most widely enjoyed and versatile vegetables, easy to grow and eat in a variety of ways. They come packed with vitamins and minerals and a long list of health benefits too.
The humble carrot (daucus carota) is a root vegetable that is most recognizable in its orange form, but it also comes in bright red, purple, yellow and white. We eat the root in soup, salad, snacks or cooked on a plate, but the leaves are also delicious. Carrots can be sipped too, in healthy juices.
As kids, we were told that eating carrots give you good eyesight, especially at night. They offer much more than that. Packed with beta-carotene and plenty of fiber, they are brimming with antioxidants, vitamin A, C, K and B8, folate and the trace elements potassium, copper, iron and manganese.
This translates into astounding health benefits. Studies show that carrots can reduce heart disease and stroke by decreasing high cholesterol. They also decrease blood pressure and their high fiber content aids digestive health and protects the colon from cancer. Beta-carotene consumption has been linked to a minimized risk of getting some cancers, including breast, colon and lung cancer. Plus, carrots regulate blood sugar levels, are good for oral health and have antibacterial and immune boosting properties.
Carrots even have anti-ageing benefits because the vitamin A contained in them helps protect the skin. Yes, carrots are good for eyesight too, just as we were told as kids. They are said to guard against macular degeneration. Vitamin A in carrots helps to improve eyesight, especially in low light conditions.
With so many diverse health benefits, there is no reason not to include carrots in daily meals – cooked, raw or juiced. In addition they are easy to grow. Add your own home grown carrot crop to your garden. If you do not have a garden, carrots are just as happy to grow in containers.
Did you know?
- the word carrot is from the Greek word ‘karaton,’ meaning ‘head horn.’
- the ancient Greeks never cultivated carrots, but ate wild ones as an aphrodisiac.
- there are over 100 different types of carrots.
- carrots are the second most popular vegetable in the world after potatoes.
- in the 1600s, English ladies often wore carrot leaves in their hats instead of feathers and flowers.
- the world record for the longest carrot ever grown was recorded in September 2016 – the carrot was 20 feet 5.9 inches and was grown by Joe Atheron from the UK.