8 Health Benefits of Carrots

The root veggie does a lot more than preserve your vision.

When you were a kid, you probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes. That's true—but the benefits of carrots don't stop there. Here are some other good-for-you perks, plus simple, healthful ways to enjoy the elegant root veggie.

Carrots Promote Healthy Vision

Just one large carrot (one cup) can provide 100% of the daily target for vitamin A, according to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements. This important nutrient (which acts as a cell-protective antioxidant) may even help protect against cancer, age-related macular degeneration, and measles. A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to a condition called xerophthalmia, which can damage normal vision and result in night blindness.

The vitamin A you get from carrots comes from two carotenoids called alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. But these aren't the only nutrients in carrots that are important for vision. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin found in carrots also enhance eye health. These two natural compounds protect the retina and lens.

Carrots Balance Your Blood Sugar

Although carrots are known to be high in sugar compared to other vegetables, they do have anti-diabetic properties, which was reported in a 2014 review published in Food and Nutrition Sciences. The review cites that people who had lower levels of carotenoids—the pigments that give carrots its orange color—had higher blood sugar levels and higher fasting levels of insulin. This suggests that carotenoids might help in the management of diabetes.

The soluble fiber in carrots has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels after eating, according to the same review. Raw or slightly cooked carrots are also low on the glycemic index, which helps them provide a steady energy supply.

They're Great for Weight Management

In addition to the fiber carrots provide, they're chock-full of water. (A carrot is actually 88% water.) This combination boosts fullness.

Compared to other vegetables, carrots have also been associated with lower body mass index and lower rates of obesity, according to a study published in Nutrients in 2021.

What's more, carrots are low in calories. One cup chopped contains just 52 calories. Scooping up your hummus or guac with a cup of raw, sliced carrots in place of 10 pita chips saves 80 calories and increases total fiber and nutrients.

They Might Lower Cancer Risk

Antioxidants found in carrots have been tied to a reduced risk of several cancers, including lung, colorectal, prostate, and leukemia. The carotenoid antioxidant called beta-carotene was found to be linked to a low rate of cancers, including colorectal cancer, as was reported in a 2020 study published in Nutrients.

Carrots also contain another carotenoid called lycopene. Lycopene has the potential to fight cancer, like stomach, prostate, lung, and breast cancer—and it may also be linked to linked to vascular health and the prevention of cardiovascular disorders, according to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Carrots Help With Blood Pressure Regulation

The potassium in carrots plays a key role in regulating blood pressure. This mineral balances sodium levels and helps sweep excess sodium and fluid out of the body, which takes the pressure off the heart. This also makes carrots a good choice if you want to de-bloat after consuming too much salty food.

Research from a 2020 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that carrots, among a few other fruits and vegetables, had some of the greatest benefits on cardiovascular health.

And May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

One review article published in the journal Foods in 2019 reported that the phenolic compounds in carrots have the potential to reduce cardiovascular diseases. These compounds have antioxidant properties, which also help maintain normal blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Carrots Support Your Immunity

The 2019 article published in Foods also mentioned two vitamins in carrots that are beneficial to the immune system: vitamin C and vitamin A. The vitamin C in carrots helps keep your immune system healthy.

The vitamin A supports the immune system by playing an important role in forming and protecting mucous membranes. Mucous membranes act as barriers to keep germs out of the body. They make up the lining of the respiratory, digestive, and urogenital tracts.

And They May Boost Brain Health

Natural compounds in carrots have been shown to act as anti-inflammatories. One of them is lutein—that same antioxidant that protects the retina from macular degeneration—and it may be involved in brain function, too. The results of a 2021 study published in Nutrients suggest that lutein has beneficial effects on brain health in healthy older adults.

How To Get More Carrots Into Your Diet

Knowing about all their beneficial antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and disease-prevention effects, you're probably excited to get all the great health benefits out of these root vegetables. And they add a touch of color to your plate.

But each color of carrot has a little something different to offer, according to the Food article. The purple variety has polyacetylenes, which also have anti-inflammatory properties. You'll find the most lutein in the yellow variety. Orange carrots have lots of alpha- and beta-carotene, while black carrots have are rich in phenolic compounds. And red carrots have high amounts of lycopene.

But which way to eat them: raw or cooked? Mix it up throughout the week. There are key benefits to eating carrots both raw and cooked. Raw carrots have a lower glycemic index, but cooking helps amp up antioxidant absorption. And mix up the color of carrot too.

Here are some of these ideas for adding more carrots (and color) into your diet:

  • Add shredded or chopped raw carrots to overnight oats, salads, or slaws, and fold into nut butter.
  • Use whole or cut, raw carrots to scoop up dip, olive tapenade, and tahini, or add them to fresh pressed juices or smoothies.
  • To cook, steam carrots or toss them into your favorite stir fry, soup, veggie chili, or stew.
  • They're also amazing oven roasted, brushed with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, or prepared with a glaze made from water-thinned pure maple syrup, cinnamon, and fresh, grated ginger root.
  • Enjoy carrots as a snack with edamame "guacamole" or hummus.
  • Carrots can even be incorporated into desserts, including carrot cake, of course, as well as carrot pie (think pumpkin or sweet potato, but with carrots!), carrot cookies, whoopie pies, dark chocolate truffles, and even carrot ice cream.
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