Sweet and crunchy, carrots are the second most popular vegetable after potatoes. Carrots are basically root vegetables belonging to the Apeaceae or Umbelliferrous family. Whether you refer to carrots as a fruit or vegetable, there is no doubt that carrots are delicious.
Besides their delicious flavour, carrots from documented evidences contain high amounts of health-benefitting compounds such as vitamin A, minerals and antioxidants. Carrots offer several health benefits and are particularly beneficial for organs like the eyes, skin, digestive system and teeth.
China is Carrot production King of the World. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that world production of carrots for the calendar year 2013 was 37.2 million tonnes, with China contributing about 45% of the World Supply.
In the case of the Nigerian climate, like most tropical countries, it consists of seasons – rainy and dry. Obviously, there are differences from north to south in terms of the length of each season. The produce at the start of the year is varied, with a range of fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, it is the wheelbarrows on the streets that portray the season for many. In the case of Carrots, they are kept hydrated throughout the day with sprays of water. You can find carrots at most markets across Nigeria. Carrots are widely used in many cuisines, especially in the preparation of salads, and carrot salads are a tradition in many regional cuisines
One important attribute of Carrots is that it helps to improve vision. A deficiency in vitamin A can cause your eye’s photoreceptors to deteriorate, which leads to vision problems. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina, to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision. Beta-carotene has also been shown to protect against macular degeneration and senile cataracts. A study found that people who eat large amounts of beta-carotene had a 40 percent lower risk of macular degeneration than those who consumed little. Carrots are also a rich source of lutein, and research suggests “increased lutein consumption has a close correlation with reduction in the incidence of cataract.
Carrots contain cancer busting chemicals according to research
Antioxidants in carrots, including beta-carotene, play a role in cancer prevention. Research has shown that smokers who eat carrots more than once a week have a lower risk of lung cancer, while a beta-carotene-rich diet may also protect against prostate cancer. Research published in the European Journal of Nutrition also found a significantly decreased risk of prostate cancer associated with the intake of carrots. The consumption of beta-carotene is also associated with a lower risk of colon cancer while carrot juice extract may kill leukaemia cells and inhibit their progression.
Further, a meta-analysis found that eating carrots may reduce your risk of gastric cancer by up to 26 percent. Carrots also contain falcarinol, a natural toxin that protects carrots against fungal disease. It is thought that this compound may stimulate cancer-fighting mechanisms in your body, as it’s been shown to cut the risk of tumour development in rats.
Protects your skin from sun damage
Carrots help to promote healthier skin. Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes and uneven skin tone.
Carrots are known by herbalists to prevent infection. They can be used on cuts shredded raw or boiled and mashed. In matters of the heart, studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein. The regular consumption of carrots also reduces cholesterol levels because the soluble fibres in carrots bind with bile acids.
Teeth and gums
Carrot is also recommended to protect teeth and gums. It is all in the crunch! Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste. Carrots stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which, being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria. The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.
Other health benefits of eating carrot are that it has anti-inflammatory properties. Also, carrots possess great healing qualities. Raw or grated carrots can be applied to wounds, cuts, and inflammation for quick healing. Their anti-inflammatory properties help to revitalise and tone the skin.