October 30, 2014

Carrot Nutrients: 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Carrots

What crunchy superfood has anti-aging properties, is a powerful antiseptic, and reduces the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer? Inexpensive, widely available and low in calories, carrots are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants essential for health – including high levels of alpha- and beta-carotene, as well as vitamins E, K, C, D, B1, B2 and B6, potassium, magnesium and folic acid! See these 10 amazing health benefits of carrots:

1. Improved Vision
If you remember your mom telling you carrots were “good for your eyes”, she was right. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A – an essential nutrient for eye health. In the retina, vitamin A is converted into rhodopsin – a molecule in the eye that absorbs light. Without vitamin A, the photoreceptors in our eyes would begin to deteriorate. They also contain the antioxidant lutein which is vital for eye health.

2. Prevent Macular Degeneration
Beta-carotene has also been shown to protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Research has shown that people who regularly consume the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, have a significantly lower risk of developing these eye diseases. Just a single carrot a day lowers your risk of macular degeneration by 40 percent.

3. Anti-Aging
High levels of alpha- and beta-carotene acts as a powerful full-body antioxidant, reversing and preventing free radical damage throughout body and slowing down the aging of cells. In a 12-year study, CDC researchers found that the higher the level of alpha-carotene in the blood, the lower the risk of death – specifically from cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease.

4. Healthy Glowing Skin
Vitamin A and the antioxidants found in carrots protect the skin from sun damage and hydrate and clarify the skin. Vitamin A helps prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, and uneven skin tone. A lack of dietary vitamin A will increase dryness in skin, hair and nails.

5. A Powerful Antiseptic
Carrots are naturally antiseptic, making them popular with herbalists as laxatives, vermicides (worm expelling agents), in poultices and as treatment for some liver conditions. They can be used topically on cuts, either shredded raw or boiled and mashed. *We do not recommend self-diagnosis and self-medication; for health questions and concerns, please consult with your primary care physician.*

6. Prevent Heart Disease
Studies show that diets high in carotenoids (think alpha and beta-carotene) are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Alpha and beta-carotene are converted in the body to vitamin A, which contributes to heart health. Research has shown that daily consumption of just half a carrot (or two baby carrots) is associated with a 32% lower risk of Coronary Heart Disease. The soluble fibers in carrots also reduce cholesterol levels by binding with LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (good cholesterol).

7. Cleanse the Body
High levels of dietary fiber in carrots help clean out the colon, improving regularity and reducing risk of colorectal cancer. Vitamin A also helps the liver to flush out toxins from the body, and the high levels found in carrots makes them popular among herbalists for protecting and improving liver health. The liver plays an important role in cleansing the body by detoxifying blood, metabolizing fats and producing bile.

8. Healthy Teeth and Gums
Like apples and celery, crunchy carrots scrape plaque and food particles from your teeth. Their antiseptic properties help kill harmful germs in the mouth; they also stimulate the gums and trigger saliva, which balances out bacteria. This helps prevent tooth decay, while the minerals in carrots help prevent tooth damage.

9. Prevent Stroke:
A large-scale Harvard University study of nearly 90,000 people discovered that eating carrots five or more times a week reduced stroke risk by 68%, compared with eating carrots once a month or less. High carotene levels reduce cholesterol, preventing them from forming plaque and clots in arteries. Research has also shown that stroke patients with above-average amounts of vitamin A in their bloodstream have better chances of survival, and are less likely to suffer neurological damage.

10. Cancer Prevention
Studies have long shown carrots to reduce the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. The compound Falcarinol is thought to be the reason behind carrots’ cancer-fighting properties; Falcarinol is a natural pesticide produced by the carrot that protects its roots from fungal diseases.

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