Carrot: Properties and Benefits
Carrot is not only one of the most cultivated and widespread vegetables in the world but it is also a concentrate of vitamin A and beta carotene, two nutrients that bring different health benefits, let’s see which
The carrot, botanical name Daucus carota, is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Umbelliferae family. This vegetable is grown mainly for the properties of its root which has a high nutritional and healing power.
The carrot has nourished populations for thousands of years. According to historical documents, this type of vegetable was consumed in Asian countries around the 10th century.
Numerous varieties have been obtained from wild carrot, a plant native to our continent, and very common in meadows and uncultivated places. This is to change the size, shape and color of the root. The latter is also called taproot, which is the part used for food purposes.
- Chemical Composition
- Respiratory Tract
- Weight Loss
- Brain Health
- The Juice
- Assimilate Beta Carotene
Another character on which we have intervened is the time of maturation. Based on this, early, medium and late carrot varieties are distinguished today. Today carrots are available all year round and this makes them even more a precious vegetable. According to FAO data, China is the world’s leading carrot producing country.
This vegetable is one of the most versatile food in the world. They can be eaten cooked, raw and in the form of juice. Throughout history they have been consumed all over the world. The consumption of carrot and its derivatives is constantly increasing due to its recognition as an important source of natural antioxidants with anticancer activity.
The carrot is one of the most important vegetables to rich root of bioactive compounds such as carotenoids and dietary fiber. These compounds have beneficial properties for health. ( 1 )
The importance of antioxidant components in maintaining health and protecting against coronary artery disease and cancer is arousing considerable interest among scientists. Food producers and consumers are also shifting their interest as the trend of the future is on the way focusing on functional foods with specific beneficial effects on health. ( 2 )
From this abundance of beneficial compounds we can already guess the beneficial properties of carrot. But let’s see in detail what its chemical composition is.
|Chemical composition per 100 g of carrot|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||835|
Amino acids: aspartic and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.
100 grams of carrot have a caloric intake equal to 41 kcal.
Carrot: Properties and Benefits
Carotenoids in food are classified into carotenes and xanthophylls, which give plant foods an attractive red or yellow color and contribute to their quality. The carotenoids are important micronutrients for human health. The total content of carotenoids in the vegetable ranges from 6.000 to 5.500 mg / 100 g. ( 3 )
The main physiological function of carotenoids is as a precursor of vitamin A. ( 4 ) In the last decade, carotenoids such as β-carotene have attracted considerable attention because of their possible protective effect against some types of cancer. ( 5 )
The presence of a high concentration of antioxidant carotenoids, especially β-carotene, can explain the biological and medicinal properties of these plants. Numerous epidemiological studies have indicated that carotenoids inhibit carcinogenesis in rats and can have anticancer effects in humans.
In biological systems, the β-carotene acts as an agent which traps the free radicals and possesses antimutagenic, chemioprotettive, and photoprotective. ( 6 )
Carotenoids have also been identified as potential inhibitors of Alzheimer’s disease. ( 7 )
Stomach cancer is the third leading cause of death in the world. To be affected are more men than women, practically almost double. ( 8 ) There are several studies showing that carrot consumption can have some relevance in terms of preventing this type of disease.
The carrot is particularly rich in carotenes and vitamin A. A pound of fresh carrots contain 8.285 micrograms of beta-carotene and 16,701 IU of vitamin A. Recent studies claim that these substances may offer protection against some types of cancer: prostate, colon and stomach. ( 9, 10, 11 )
A 2012 study suggests that women taking many carotenes have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. ( 12 )
Vitamin A also helps the liver get rid of toxins. An Anglo-Danish study published in the Journal of Agricoltural and Food Chemistry recommends one carrot per day to defend against cancer.
The vegetable, in fact, appears to contain a compound having an anti-carcinogenic action, falcarinol. This substance appears to be a kind of natural pesticide that carrot itself uses to protect its roots from fungal diseases.
A 2015 study confirms that there is an inverse relationship between the consumption of this vegetable and the risk of stomach cancer. Other studies have shown that taking vegetables like carrot has an important role in the prevention of stomach cancer. ( 13, 14 )
A Chinese study found that carrot consumption significantly reduces the risk of prostate cancer. ( 15 )
A Chinese study suggests that their regular consumption is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. ( 16 )
It Protects the Respiratory Tract
The beta-carotene is necessary for a healthy growth of body tissues as well as for their repair. It contributes to the protection of mucous membranes present in the lungs, mouth and nose, thus reducing the risk of infections.
The discrete content of vitamin C gives carrots antioxidant properties that prove useful in strengthening the immune system and in counteracting the activity of free radicals. Even the beta-carotene has antioxidant properties proven useful in combating free radicals.
A 2011 study suggests that drinking carrot juice significantly increases the antioxidant state of the blood. ( 17 )
The carrot contains carotenoids. Their activities, along with that of dietary fiber, helps to reduce levels of cholesterol bad LDL in the blood.
There are several studies linking carrot consumption to lower bad cholesterol levels. ( 18 , 19 )
A French study states that carrot consumption modifies the absorption of cholesterol and the excretion of bile acids by increasing the antioxidant state. ( 20 )
These properties of the carrot have a positive impact on the prevention of diseases such as arteriosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
The carrot with vitamin A and the beta-carotene , is indicated for eye problems such as cataracts and other eye diseases. In fact, individuals with low vitamin A content are more likely to develop blindness at dusk.
According to a 1984 study, this pathology can improve by consuming foods rich in vitamin A and carotenoids such as carrots. ( 21 )
According to several studies, carotenoids can reduce the risk of senile macular degeneration. ( 22, 23 )
This vegetable also has a good content of lutein , an antioxidant compound that protects the eye from harmful sun rays. Another study found that lutein was associated with a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration. ( 24 )
Another study conducted on older people has shown that taking this vegetable has beneficial effects on night vision. ( 25 )
An American study suggests that drinking carrot juice reduces oxidative stress and protects the heart from cardiovascular disease. This property is attributable to the high content of antioxidants which also have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels and increase the production of bile. ( 26 )
A study conducted at Harvard University found that people who ate more than 6 carrots a week were less likely to develop a stroke than those who ate only one a month or less.
According to another American study, drinking carrot juice regularly protects the cardiovascular system and increases total antioxidant status. ( 27 )
Bones, Skin and Hair
The carrot contains many minerals to each of them performs important functions in our body. Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are essential for the health of our bones, phosphorus maintains healthy skin, hair and nerves while magnesium facilitates mental development, the digestion of fats and the metabolization of other minerals.
The vegetable can also be a valuable remedy peri intestinal worms. Half a cup of grated carrot taken in the morning on an empty stomach (avoid breakfast for at least an hour) for five consecutive days should serve this purpose.
Sunburn and Wounds
For external use, it can also be used to treat sunburn, wounds and other skin problems. According to the research, beta carotene is fundamental for the healing of any type of wound.( 28 )
A beauty mask prepared with its pulp instead can be useful to soften the skin of the face, eliminate skin spots, pimples and dark circles.
Thanks to the good fiber content, this vegetable can contribute to weight loss. Their intake in fact increases the sense of satiety and prevents you from introducing more calories into the body during the day. ( 29 )
Their consumption brings benefits to the brain by helping to prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. According to scientific research, this property is attributable to its ability to reduce oxidative stress in the brain. ( 30 )
The juice of carrot, if taken daily, can improve the quality of breast milk and has anti-inflammatory properties. But carrot also has other properties. It can help regulate the amount of sugar in the blood and, thanks to the fiber content, it can bring benefits to the colon by helping to keep it healthy.
The carrot is also useful for the treatment of other disorders such as gum disease, insomnia, kidney, liver and gallbladder inflammation, colitis, ulcer and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to a 2002 study, insoluble fibers reduce the risk of constipation and promote bowel movements correctly. ( 31 )
The carrot juice increases the production of bile juices. This property according to a 2006 study may increase metabolism. The study, conducted in rats, suggests that juice, by increasing metabolism, could be useful for losing weight. ( 32 )
Drinking this type of juice also has beneficial effects for pregnant and lactating women. This is because the juice is rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin A. The calcium helps the fetus in bone development and folate prevent the defects of the neural tube.
Drinking carrot juice can also improve cognitive function and can have beneficial effects on memory loss and dementia. Beta-carotene is thought to be responsible for these therapeutic properties. In a study, in fact, some workers exposed to lead were given 10 mg of beta-carotene for 12 weeks. ( 33 )
The results showed that workers, after the end of treatment, had values lower the oxidative stress.
Carrots on the Table
But what is the ideal way to consume carrot ? We usually think that vegetables should be eaten raw, under penalty of losing the effectiveness of many substances and their benefits , including vitamins.
All this is correct, especially with regard to vitamin C which is easily destroyed by heat. But this is where the carrots reserve some surprises. In fact, beta carotene withstands heat and a short cooking is not able to destroy it, on the contrary it favors its assimilation, since, becoming softer plant tissues, they are more easily treated by our digestive system.
So we can argue that, through a short cooking, without exaggerating, we obtain an easier assimilation of beta-carotene and its benefits.
The ideal food intake is represented by fresh juice, also mixed with milk to enhance its purifying properties.
Raw carrots are also good as a snack or added to a plate of other raw foods, or the carrots read in very little water and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and aromatic herbs.
Assimilate Beta Carotene
One method to better assimilate beta-carotene and its benefits is to season carrots with something fatty, such as oil or butter, fat increases the availability of carotene and can increase the capacity of our body up to three times assimilate.
A study carried out at The Institute of Food Research in 2009 showed that eating lightly cooked carrots provides an amount of beta-carotene significantly higher than the raw carrots. To ensure that the carrot does not disperse its nutrients during cooking, it must be cooked whole and cut after cooking.
This study confirms the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine which has always advised its patients to consume lightly cooked carrots.
Carrot cake: Ingredients
– 325 gr made with flour
– 350 gr of sugar
– 120 gr of butter
– 400 gr of carrots
– 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
– 4 eggs
– 1 sachet of yeast
– 60 gr raisins (or pine nuts, almonds ..)
Beat the eggs with the sugar and then add the softened butter to form a cream.
Add the sifted flour and baking powder, finely grated carrots, raisins and cinnamon.
Mix well and bake at 150 ° for about 45 minutes.
Leave to cool well before baking the dessert.
According to a study, carrots can cause allergic reactions in 25% of people allergic to other foods. These types of allergy are related to pollen. If you are allergic to birch or mugwort pollen you may also be allergic to carrot pollen. ( 34 )
The symptoms may be itching of the mouth and in some cases swelling in the throat or worse anaphylactic shock. To learn more you can consult these studies in English. ( 35, 36 )
In 1600 in England women put carrot leaves in hats instead of flowers and feathers.
The name of beta-carotene derives from the carrot which contains good quantities.
A sedentary life, sitting in front of the PC or TV for many hours, pollution, a diet rich in fats, are all factors that contribute to increasing the body’s need for vitamin A and beta-carotene.
Since ancient times, carrot has always been considered a natural remedy for the treatment of skin diseases. In fact beta-carotene and vitamin A, of which carrots are very rich, are considered the essential vitamins of the skin.
Many skin-related problems, such as the early onset of wrinkles or excessive acne, dry skin or difficulty in tanning can easily depend on insufficient intake of this vitamin. Reason this to consume a few more carrots during the week.
There are several varieties of vegetables with different colors: black, purple, yellow, white carrot. These carrots have been around for years, the classic orange ones that we are all used to seeing and consuming came later, probably following mutations in the yellow ones.
Research done at the University of Wisconsin Madison suggests that the pigment of these colored carrots can help prevent heart disease and reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels.
The scraps of the working of the carrot contain about 50% of β-carotene and could be used profitably for the integration of products such as cakes, bread, biscuits and preparation of different types of functional products.
In the United States, studies have been conducted on the properties of different colors of carrots and their benefits on human health.
Orange: they contain beta-carotene and alpha-carotene which are both orange pigments. They are characterized by a high percentage of vitamin A which as seen before have many useful properties for our health.
Yellow: they contain xanthophylls and lutene, yellow pigments similar to beta-carotene and very useful for eye health.
They bring benefits to the arteries by preventing their hardening. Studies on xanthophyll show that its intake can significantly reduce the risk of cataracts.
Red: the pigment of this type of carrot is lycopene, the same present in tomatoes and watermelon. The lycopene has shown anti-cancer properties, particularly prostate, and preventative against heart disease.
Purple: this coloring is due to the presence of anthocyanins, pigments with strong antioxidant properties that protect the body from the activity of free radicals.
Anthocyanins prevent heart disease by slowing down blood clotting and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Black: they contain anthocyanins which, as we have seen, are powerful antioxidants able to fight free radicals, bad cholesterol and have anti-tumor properties.
White: they are pigment-free but contain natural bioactive compounds. the white one is useful for preventing the accumulation of fat in the walls of the arteries.
Carrot: Properties and Benefits
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