A popular narrative goes around that tomatoes look like the heart and keep the heart-healthy. A walnut resembles a tiny brain and is coincidentally good for the brain. Beans are kidney-shaped and they help to heal and maintain kidney functions. And lastly, a carrot looks like an eye and coincidentally helps to maintain the overall health of the eye.
The carrot is a vegetable that originates from Persia and Asia Minor. It dates back to the 10th Century. The scientific name for carrot is Daucus carota. It is a root vegetable often claimed to be the perfect health food. It is believed that the earliest discovered carrot was purple or white with a thin root, but a mutant occurred that removed this purple pigmentation making it yellow and subsequently orange.
A medium-sized carrot contains 25 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of fibre. The veggie is an excellent source of vitamin A, providing more than 200% of your daily requirement in just one carrot.
Carrots are highly nutritious. In fact, the first carrot was grown for medicinal purposes rather than its use today for daily consumption.
Carrots are rich in vitamins, fibre and minerals, as well as being a good source of antioxidants. Let’s explore each of these food components and their benefits to the body.
The main food component in a carrot is Vitamin A. Carrots are rich in beta carotene that the body converts to Vitamin A. This vitamin is responsible for improving eye vision and the general immune system.
Biotin is also found in carrots. It helps in the breakdown of fats and proteins in the body.
Carrots also contain vitamin C which helps in the production of tissues and supports the immune function of the body.
The B Vitamins are also an essential component found in carrots. These water-soluble nutrients are basically a function of converting carbohydrates, protein and fat into energy.
Fibre plays a huge role in regulating blood sugar levels, digestive health, and appetite control by giving satiety value.
The main mineral that is found in carrots is Potassium, which essentially helps in the control of blood pressure levels in the body.
Beta Carotene as discussed earlier is converted into Vitamin A by the body which helps in improving the overall health of the eye as well as improving the immune system of the individual.
Alpha carotene, just like Beta-Carotene is partially converted into Vitamin A by the body.
Lutein is also responsible for improving eye health.
Lastly, lycopene decreases the risk of heart disease and cancer.
BENEFITS OF CARROTS IN THE DIET
The benefits of carrots are numerous. It is important to note, however, that eating raw carrots will not give you as many nutritional benefits as eating cooked ones. Another disclaimer given is that eating too many carrots may result in a skin condition called carotenosis where your skin appears yellow or orange.
- Prevention of cancer.
The components beta carotene and carotenoids promote immunity and activate certain proteins that inhibit cancer cells. Carrots also help in lowering the risk of leukaemia.
- Skin health
Carrots are rich in a component called carotenoids. Studies have suggested that this particular compound helps to improve overall appearance and complexion of the skin.
- Regulation of blood pressure
A recent study claimed that carrot juice contributed to a 5% reduction in systolic blood pressure. This is attributed to the Fibre, Pottasium and Nitrates and Vitamin C contained in the carrot juice.
- Diabetes Treatment
Studies have shown that Vitamin A is an important nutrient in the treatment of Type II Diabetes. Carrots thereby being rich in this particular nutrient have helped with the treatment and control of Diabetes.
- Promoting eye health
Vitamin A in recommended dosages has been said to help promote vision. In fact, there have been claims that during World War II British Air Force manage to gun down German aircraft in the dead of night. Eating carrots is said to have been the key to the pilots’ success.
If a person is deprived of vitamin A for too long, the outer segments of the eyes’ photo-receptors begin to deteriorate. This disrupts the normal chemical processes involved in vision. The person may end up with a condition known as night blindness. Restoring your vitamin A intake can facilitate the restoration of your vision. Find out more here – Myth or Fact: Eating Carrots Improves Eyesight
Do carrots really help with short-sightedness or long-sightedness?
Much has been said about carrots. Their ability to reduce the risk of cancer, control diabetes and improve overall digestive health. But the most common theory is that they can improve eyesight in the dark and help to get rid of eye conditions such as short-sightedness and long-sightedness. While this is true to some extent, some of this information may be false.
Yes, carrots can improve eyesight in the dark. Night blindness is caused by a deficiency in Vitamin A. It prevents a person from seeing well in the dark or in poor light. Usually, it is a symptom of an underlying problem. Essentially, carrots are rich in Vitamin A and are able to reverse some of these effects to a certain extent.
However, there is no concrete evidence to prove that the effects of myopia and hyper-metropia (Short-sightedness and long-sightedness) can be reversed by eating carrots. The eye is a muscle, and thereby claiming that it can convex or concave based on the ingestion of a vitamin may in fact not be true.
Although there is no obvious cure for nearsightedness at the moment, there are proven methods that can be prescribed by an eye doctor to slow the progression of myopia during childhood.
Vitamin A will keep your vision healthy. It will not improve your eye vision.
Lastly, because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, one needs to eat it with fat in order to fully absorb it and its benefits. Eating a raw carrot won’t deliver as much vitamin A.
“If your vision is less than perfect, eating carrots will not improve your visual acuity.” However, carrots have been said to cure night blindness and dry eyes.
If you suspect that your vision is diminishing, I would suggest you consult your ophthalmologist to find ways to work around it. Eating carrots and other vitamins in a bid to completely overturn the damage done to your eyes may not be a long term solution and may end up doing more harm than good.