The health benefits of carrots can be traced back to when it was originally cultivated in the Middle Eastern, central Asian countries and parts of Europe thousands of years ago. These original carrots did not resemble the carrots we see today. There were purple, red and yellow colored carrots. During the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe, carrots were widely cultivated and were initially brought to North America around this time.
In the commercial marketplace today, China produces approximately one-third of all the carrots that are bought and sold all over the world. Russia is second and the United States is a close third. Currently American adults consume approximately 12 pounds of carrots yearly.
The name “carrot” is derived from the word “karoton”, which is Greek. The first three letters -kar designate a horn-like shape, referring to the part of the carrot that is underground and generally eaten.
The Nutrient Value of the Raw Carrot
The Food Chart that details the percentage of daily value of a single serving of carrots shows that each serving provides an excellent, very good or good %DV of the necessary nutrients and confirms the health benefits of carrots. Because of this, carrots are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. Carrots contain over 80 nutrients. One cup (122.00 grams) of raw carrots has 52.46 calories.
Health Benefits of Carrots
The carrot a root vegetable that is renowned for its rich supply of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant nutrient that gained its name from the carrot because of the large quantities the carrot contains.
A carrot contains many other nutrients as well. The carrot offers a multitude of other nutrients that benefit the cardiovascular system, have anti-cancer properties and assist the immune system.
Antioxidant Benefits in the Carrot
All the different varieties of the carrot contain very valuable amounts of nutrients with antioxidant values. The more traditional antioxidant vitamin C and the phytonutrient antioxidant beta-carotene are just a couple of the many antioxidants the carrot contains.
The amount of phytonutrient antioxidants varies depending on the variety of carrot. For example, the purple and red carrots are well-known for their abundance of the antioxidant anthocyanin. The orange carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, accounting for 65% of their entire carotenoid content. Half of the yellow carrots carotenoids are from lutein. It does not matter which variety is chosen, each contains excellent antioxidant benefits.
The Cardiovascular Benefits of the Carrot
It is not a surprise that numerous studies have shown that the health benefits of carrots extend to cardiovascular benefits. Much of this is due to their rich antioxidant content. The cardiovascular system is in need of constant protection from free radical damage. This is especially true for the arteries because they are responsible for transporting highly oxygenated blood throughout the body.
In a study that was recently done in the Netherlands, participants were monitored over a period of ten years. This study has provided us with some riveting new information concerning carrots and the role they play in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
During this study the participants’ fruit and vegetable intake was categorized according to color. The focus of this study was on four colors: orange/yellow, green, white and red/purple.
The orange/yellow variety of fruits and vegetables was found to be more protective against CVD than the other colors. The deeper the shade of orange/yellow the more protection the food offered.
In the dark orange/yellow group of foods, carrots were found to be the one main risk-reducing food concerning CVD. The participants who did not eat very many carrots had the smallest amount of risk reduction for CVD. Even so, they still received some reduced risk of CVD from their carrot intake.
Participants, who consumed 25 more grams, which is almost one-quarter cup of carrots, had a significant decrease in their risk of CVD. The participants who consumed 50 to 75 grams more demonstrated an even higher reduction in their risk of CVD. This study surely demonstrates how easily the risk of CVD can be reduced. The best-researched polyacetylenes found in the carrot are falcarindiol and falcarinol. Preliminary research has shown that the polyacetylenes that are found in the carrot have anti-aggregatory properties and anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-aggregatory properties assist in preventing the red blood cells from excessively clumping together.
The Carrot and Vision Health