Carrots are good for more than just Bugs Bunny. In fact, they are one of the healthiest snacks you can have. With a sweet taste and satisfying crunch, carrots can soothe junk food cravings when you are trying to be good. They are also high in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, which can reduce your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Read on to discover 10 compelling reasons why you should make carrots a daily habit.
1. Beta carotene
Carrots are a rich source of beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits. In the body, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A to maintain healthy skin. Studies show that beta carotene also protects the lungs against toxins that lead to lung cancer.
In fact, ex-smokers who consume beta carotene on a daily basis have been found to decrease their risk of both lung and stomach cancer. Other foods high in beta carotene include spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes.
The body needs certain essential minerals, vitamins, fiber, and enzymes to power the process of digestion and carrots have them in spades. Carrots have equal amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps to push food through the digestive system. The beta carotene converts to vitamin A, which boosts the health of your lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are cells that fight off food-borne pathogens. And finally, carrots contain a good amount of calcium and potassium, two minerals vital to the normal contraction of all types of muscle, including the ones necessary to move food through your digestive tract. For these reasons, studies show that eating carrots regularly may prevent gastric ulcers.
3. Alkaline elements
Eating too much acid-forming food has a negative health effect, but eating carrots can help return the body to a beneficial pH level. While the body needs both acid and alkaline foods, it needs more of the latter while our modern diets tend to contain too much of the former. Aim for about 80% of your daily food intake to be alkalizing foods like carrots and other root vegetables. Now, pH values naturally vary throughout your body – the stomach, for example, is very acidic because it needs to be. And the body is quite good and adjusting the pH value of your blood by excreting excess acid in your urine. The reason it is important to eat more alkalizing foods is simply that it puts less stress on your body in maintaining that proper balance.
Potassium works in partnership with sodium to balance fluid levels, which contributes to the health of your kidneys and reduces high blood pressure. Unfortunately, we tend to get a lot more sodium than we need because it is packed into all kinds of processed foods at an incredible level. Carrots can help bring that balance back into alignment to relieve strain on your kidneys and entire circulatory system.
5. Dental Health
Carrots can help keep your teeth and gums healthy in a number of ways. First, just chomping down on crunchy carrots scrapes away plaque buildup. Eating carrots also stimulates saliva production, which helps to keep the bacteria in your mouth in check. Their alkalizing capacity can balance the pH in your mouth as well.
There are two compounds in carrots that can speed the healing of wounds – vitamin C and beta carotene. Vitamin C is associated with a healthy immune system and the production of collagen, a critical component of skin. Beta carotene is known to reduce inflammation so that skin can heal faster. You may simply add more carrots to your diet when you have a wound or else pack some grated carrots into a compress and apply directly to the affected area once it has scabbed over.
Phytonutrients are naturally occurring plant chemicals and they have a whole host of benefits. One of the most powerful phytonutrients in carrots is called falcarinol, which is thought to reduce your risk of colon cancer as well as support overall colon health. In fact, the phytonutrients (including antioxidants) in carrots can reduce your risk of all types of cancer. The benefits seem to be greater when the carrots are cooked, but feel free to enjoy carrots however you like them.
Carrots also feature a particular antioxidant group called carotenoids, which are used to help regulate blood sugar. Therefore, a diet rich in carotenoids can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Study results have been varied, but all put the risk reduction in the range of 15-22%.
We’ve talked about how fiber can aid digestion, but it’s great for other things as well. The soluble fiber in carrots binds to LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind) and allows our bodies to eliminate it. As a result, we are less prone to blood clots and at a lower risk for heart disease. The insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation and intestinal blockages, thereby reducing the risk of problems like hemorrhoids and even colorectal cancer.
10. Eyes, hair, nails and skin
The balanced nutritional profile of carrots is good for the whole body, including hair, nails, skin, and eyes. The phytonutrients deliver some of the ingredients that the body needs to build new cells. This is a process that happens all the time, but when you have a nutritional deficiency, the new cells are not as healthy as they could be and have a shortened lifespan. Healthy young cells make for clear eyes, glowing skin, and strong nails.
The only thing to remember about storing carrots is that they are best kept moist after peeling, so be sure to add a little water to the container that keeps your carrot sticks. However, you don’t technically have to peel carrots before eating. Most people do simply because the peel has a slightly bitter flavor.
Are you convinced to eat more carrots? Luckily, they are very versatile ingredient. They’re great for salads, stir fries, and stews. They can be dipped into healthy hummus or Ranch dressing. Since their natural flavor is so appealing, you can enjoy carrots plain as well. Just make sure you’re getting enough carrots to enjoy a long and healthy life.