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The Importance of Eating Carrots

The carrot is widely known as a vegetable that is easy to grow, delicious and highly nutritious. Both adults and children like carrots because of its crunchy texture and sweet taste. The tap-root of this vegetable is the edible part and it is considered to be nutritious and good for health. It is a rich source of many different nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, iron, etc. The chemical known as beta-carotene makes carrot an important food source in fighting several health problems.

Nutritional Value in Carrots

Carrot comprises of the following nutrients, which are very good for the body.

• Beta carotene (converted into Vitamin A by the body).

• Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) and Vitamin B (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Niacin).

• Minerals like Potassium and Manganese

• Sodium, Fluoride and Phosphorus

• Iron, Zinc and Copper

• Selenium and Calcium

• Carbohydrates and Protein

• Biotin and Thiamine

Here is some information on the nutritional value of carrots and health/nutrition benefits of eating them:

Prevent heart diseases: Research has shown that a diet high in carotenoids is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. A study that examined the diets of 1,300 elderly persons in Massachusetts found that people who had at least one serving of carrots and/or squash each day had a 60 percent reduction in their risk of heart attacks compared to those who ate less than one serving of carotenoid-rich foods per day.

Also, it is believed that regular consumption of carrots reduces cholesterol level. The soluble fiber in carrots (calcium pectate) may help lower blood-cholesterol levels by binding with and eliminating bile acids, triggering cholesterol to be drawn out of the bloodstream to make more bile acids.

Prevent cancer: Several studies have shown that eating carrots can lower the risk of cancers of breast, lung and colon. Recently, researchers have isolated a compound called falcarinol in carrots that may be largely responsible for their anticancer benefits. Falcarinol is a natural pesticide found in carrots that protects carrots from fungal diseases. In the human diet, carrots are virtually the only source of this compound. A study conducted on rats found that those fed with either falcarinol or raw carrots had one-third lower risk of developing colon cancer than rats not fed with them.

Aids in diabetes: Carrot is good for blood sugar regulation because of the presence of carotenoids in carrot. A study at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health tested 4,500 people over 15 years and found that those with the highest levels of carotenoids in their blood had about half the diabetes risk of those with the least. However, as carrots have high glycemic index and can raise blood sugar levels, they should be consumed by diabetics in moderation after consulting with their doctor.

Improves vision: The retina of the eye needs vitamin A to function; a deficiency of vitamin A causes night blindness. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which gets converted into vitamin A in the liver. In the retina, vitamin A is transformed into rhodopsin, a purple pigment that is necessary for night-vision. Additionally, beta-carotene’s antioxidant properties help protect against macular degeneration and the development of senile cataracts. Researches found that people who ate the most Beta-carotene had a forty percent lower risk of macular degeneration compared with those who consumed the least.

Reduces risk of stroke: Many studies have strengthened the "carrot effect" on brain. According to a research results from Harvard University, people who eat more than five carrots a week are much less likely to suffer a stroke than those who eat only one carrot a month.

Good source of fiber: Carrots contain rich amounts of fiber which is very essential for digestion of food consumed in the body. However, the fiber in carrots can trap the beta-carotene, making it difficult for your body to extract. By cooking them slightly, you free the beta-carotene from the fiber, which allows your body to absorb it better.

Anti ageing: Carrots contain tons of beta-carotene, which works as an antioxidant that helps the body to combat cell damage done to the body by impurities in the bloodstream and the like such as chemicals or even oxygen. It also slows down the ageing of cells and various negative impacts associated with ageing.

Dental health: Carrots can even help to clean your teeth, and are a great way to keep your mouth clean after a meal. They act as natual abrasives, helping to remove sticky debris from the teeth and stimulate the gums. They also trigger a lots of saliva, which helps to scrub away stains on your teeth. Minerals in carrots help to kill germs in the mouth and prevent tooth decay.

Skin benefits: Beauty conscious people are using it for decades as a way to enhance beauty of skin. Carrot juice has powerful cleansing properties that are effective in detoxifying the liver, thus overall effective for acne which are caused by toxicity of the blood. Carrot juice is also helpful for treating uneven skin tones due to pigmentation.

The high quality of vitamin A and other rich nutrients in carrot juice efficiently nourish the skin, preventing dry skin, psoriasis and other skin blemishes.

Should carrots be eaten raw or cooked?

Of course, raw carrots are a great snack. But, raw carrots have tough cellular walls which make less beta-carotene available to the body. The availability of beta-carotene can be improved by cooking them. The cooking process breaks down their tough cell walls, which releases beta-carotene. However, avoid overcooking to minimize nutrient loss. Steaming is your best bet for cooking carrots.

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