Carrots are healthy vegetables that are eaten as snacks and used in many dishes to provide substance and flavor. Their crunchy texture adds something different and tasty to salads, meat dishes, pasta, and more. But carrots are also extremely nutritious, packed with many nutrients that you need on a daily basis.
Carrots are excellent sources of nutrients like potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin A, among many others. Beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid, is the nutrient that turns carrots orange and also promotes good health. It converts to vitamin A when consumed in foods and gives other fruits and vegetables their yellow or orange color.
Here are the health benefits of carrots, nutrition information, and a few ways you can prepare them.
Here are some other health benefits of carrots:
Vitamin A, which is plentiful in carrots, is crucial to ongoing eye health. Some studies have linked low levels of vitamin A with a greater risk of night blindness.
Lower Cancer Risk
Carotenoids can help your body protect against several types of cancers. One study showed that a diet rich in beta carotene may help men protect against prostate cancer. Another study suggested that the plant compound lutein, which is found in carrots, may reduce the risk of colon cancer when incorporated into the diet.
A different study indicated that high intakes of vitamin A may reduce the risk of stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer.
Carrots have very few calories per serving. They can help you feel full so you won’t eat as much, reducing calorie intake overall and supporting weight loss and a healthy diet. The increased feelings of fullness occur largely because carrots are a great source of fiber.
Studies have also linked the intake of carrots with lowering cholesterol when incorporated into the diet.
One serving of fresh, grated carrots (half a cup) provides the following nutritional facts:
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, with one serving providing 184% of your daily value, and also the following nutrients:
Things to Watch Out For
Although carrots are low in calories and full of important nutrients, it is possible to eat to experience negative health effects from eating too many carrots. In a famous case, a 48 year old sought medical attention after his skin turned yellow and he experienced abdominal pain. He was diagnosed with constipation, hypercarotenemia (orange discoloration of the skin), and possible vitamin A toxicity. The doctors determined that these medical conditions were caused by the 6-7 pounds of carrots he was eating per week. If enjoying carrots as a light snack or a in a dish, you’re unlikely to eat enough to cause any of these symptoms.
How to Prepare Carrots
Now that you know all the health benefits and nutrients in carrots, let’s look at some of the best ways to prepare them.
Carrots come in many different shapes and sizes — and even colors, with purple, white, and yellow carrots adding to the more commonly seen orange. You can purchase regular-sized carrots or “baby” carrots at the grocery store, giving you a wider range of uses in your meals.
A nutritious and easy snack for kids is baby carrots with peanut butter, hummus, or ranch dressing. The crunchy treat can be paired with other veggies like celery, cucumbers, and tomatoes for a pre-dinner spread.
Carrots are great eaten raw and crunchy, but you can also cook them with other foods to add a lot to a meal. Try baking sliced carrots in the oven with potatoes and onions or sautéing them in a skillet with oil. You can also shred carrots and mix them with butter or cheese for a tasty side dish.
However you decide to prepare or cook carrots, they will add something slightly sweet and rich to a wide range of dishes and snack trays.