A key aspect of good nutrition is ensuring you consume enough fruits and vegetables every day. Generally, most dietitians agree that five servings a day are what you should aim for. Some people achieve this by lunch, while others struggle to get five portions consistently every day. Either way, it helps to identify different foods that might help you reach your quota. As you can tell by the title, carrots are the focus of today's post!
Yes, the humble carrot is a fine addition to your diet. Rabbits love them, but they're also very beneficial for humans. They're great to eat as you can add them to lots of different meals, or snack on them throughout the day. Eating a portion of carrots dipped in hummus will give you one serving of your five per day. It's a healthy snack to have between meals, so it gives you a little boost.
Aside from the convenience of carrots, they also possess some vital nutrients for the human body. Let's look at some of the key nutritional facts and how this orange vegetable helps your health:
Carrots are good for your vision
You've all heard the saying that carrots help you see better in the dark. While that might not technically be true, there is some truth hidden within this old wive's tale! Carrots are known to help improve your eye health, making them good for your vision. This is thanks to the abundance of vitamin A and lutein in these orange root vegetables.
Funnily enough, vitamin A itself doesn't actually exist in the carrots. Instead, there's a huge amount of beta carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Regardless, the result is a healthy dose of this vitamin whenever you eat a portion of carrots. Vitamin A serves many functions throughout the body, but one of the key ones is promoting good vision. It can prevent cataracts from forming, stop your eyesight from deteriorating, and protect against common diseases.
Lutein is an antioxidant found in carrots - one of the many antioxidants, actually. This specific one is heavily linked to eye health, and you get more of it in orange and yellow carrots. Overall, carrots will keep your eyes and your eyesight as healthy as can be. However, it's worth noting that they won't reverse the effects of bad eyesight. If you already have vision problems, your best bet is to get some prescription glasses, like the ones you see here. No amount of carrots will stop your blurry vision and restore 20/20 sight - unfortunately!
Carrots prevent many diseases
As mentioned above, you'll find loads of antioxidants within carrots. There's no point in listing them all as they're quite complicated and all seem to serve similar purposes. Instead, let's consider the purpose of antioxidants in the body. You've definitely heard of this term before, as it is popular throughout the nutrition/health world. But, what exactly are antioxidants?
The easiest explanation is to break the term down. An antioxidant is something that prevents oxidation in the body. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that leads to things called 'free radicals', which basically set off more reactions and can damage cells. When you have too many free radicals in your body, you're at a high-risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Therefore, antioxidants prevent them from forming, which can stop you from getting these conditions.
Carrots are packed full of antioxidants, meaning you boost your body's natural defense system when you eat them. The more antioxidants you absorb, the less free radicals you will have. As always, this doesn't mean you're guaranteed to never ever get cancer or heart disease, etc. It will significantly lower the risk, which is why it's still worth eating carrots!
Furthermore, carrots are full of vitamin C - like most fruit and veg. Again, this is important in preventing diseases and sickness. Vitamin C is essential in forming a strong immune system, which stops you from catching viruses or feeling sick.
Carrots improve bone health
When you think about bone health, your mind instantly wanders to calcium. It's known as the bone-friendly mineral, but there are others at play as well. Carrots don't contain large amounts of calcium, but there are some in each portion. Mainly, they're packed full of two things: vitamin K and potassium.
Both of these things are directly linked to improving bone health. Vitamin K is almost like calcium's partner in crime! They work together to build strong bones that are less likely to crumble and become weak. Where does potassium come into play? Well, this mineral is fundamental in preventing calcium loss within the bones. In essence, it keeps the bones as strong as possible and prevents calcium deficiency in the body.
So, you can see how carrots are vital for your bone health! Eating a portion of these a few times per week will back your bones full of the nutrients they need to stay as strong as can be.
Carrots can promote a healthy reproductive system
There have also been suggestions that carrots will keep your reproductive system nice and healthy. This relates to both men and women, and it can actually help the embryo grow properly during pregnancy.
Realistically, this isn't so much the carrot as it is the vitamin A you get from it. You've already seen how this vitamin benefits your vision, but it has many other functions as well. It supports cell growth and development, which is key for the reproductive system. In men, a vitamin A deficiency is shown to cause infertility, which is a massive problem! In short, if you want a healthy reproductive system, you need a good dose of vitamin A. The best way to get this is by consuming plenty of carrots!
Carrots can help manage healthy blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of cardiac arrest and heart disease in the world. The higher your blood pressure, the harder your heart works to pump blood around the body. As such, you're far more likely to suffer a heart attack or end up in a hospital with some sort of heart condition. High blood pressure also impacts your ability to exercise, which can lead to excessive weight gain. From here, all sorts of problems present themselves!
Carrots are high in potassium - as you've already noticed. As well as aiding bone health, this mineral is vital when it comes to regulating blood pressure. Long story short, it can stop your blood pressure from going through the roof. This will prevent all sorts of medical issues from manifesting in the future!
How should you eat carrots?
On that note, you've seen all the nutritional benefits carrots bring to the table. Now, let's think about the best ways to eat them. If you refer back to the introduction, you'll see the idea of snacking on them with some hummus or another dip. This is an easy way to eat a portion of carrots between meals or as part of your lunch. You could also cut them up and add them to salads, grate them with celery and onions to form a bolognese source, or boil them.
It doesn't really matter how you eat them, though cooking carrots can help you absorb more beta carotene. The critical thing to think about is that you shouldn't go overboard. It's easy to see all these facts and think you need to binge carrots every day. No, a portion a day is as much as you need. Like everything, if you overeat, it can cause further health complications. So, don't make them the focal point of your diet, just add them in here and there to boost your health!