The carrot (Daucus carota) is a root vegetable that is often claimed to be the perfect health food.
It is crunchy, tasty and highly nutritious. Carrots are a particularly good source of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants .
The carotene antioxidants in them have also been linked to reduced risk of cancer.
They are found in many colors, including yellow, white, orange, red and purple.
The water content can vary from around 86-95%, and the edible portion consists of around 10% carbohydrates.
Carrots contain very little fat and protein.
One medium, raw carrot (61 grams) contains 25 calories, with only 4 grams of digestible carbs
Carrots are mainly composed of water and carbohydrates.
The carbs consist of starch and sugars, such as sucrose and glucose.
They are also a relatively good source of fiber, with one medium sized carrot (61 grams) providing 2 grams.
Carrots often rank low on the glycemic index, which is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar after a meal.
The glycemic index of carrots ranges from 16-60, being lowest for raw carrots, a little higher for cooked carrots and highest for pureed carrots.
Eating low-glycemic foods is linked to numerous health benefits, and is considered particularly beneficial for diabetics.
Pectin is the main form of soluble fiber in carrots.
Soluble fibers can lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion of sugar and starch.
They can also feed the friendly bacteria in the gut, which may lead to improved health and decreased risk of disease.
Certain soluble fibers can also impair the absorption of cholesterol from the digestive tract, lowering blood cholesterol.
The main insoluble fibers in carrots are in the form of cellulose, but also hemicellulose and lignin.
Insoluble fibers reduce the risk of constipation and promote regular and healthy bowel movements.
Vitamins and Minerals
Carrots are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A (from beta-carotene), biotin, vitamin K (phylloquinone), potassium and vitamin B6.
Vitamin A: Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes good vision, and is important for growth, development, and immune function.
Biotin: One of the B-vitamins, formerly known as vitamin H. It plays an important role in fat and protein metabolism.
Vitamin K1: Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K is important for blood coagulation and can promote bone health.
Potassium: An essential mineral, important for blood pressure control.
Vitamin B6: A group of related vitamins that are involved with the conversion of food into energy.
Health Benefits of Carrots
Much of the research on carrots has focused on carotenoids.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
Diets rich in carotenes may have a protective effect against several types of cancer.
This includes prostate cancer, colon cancer and stomach cancer.
Women with high circulating levels of carotenoids may also be at reduced risk of breast cancer.
Older research suggested that carotenoids could be protective against developing lung cancer, but newer studies found no protective effect.
Lower Blood Cholesterol
High blood cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for heart disease.
Intake of carrots has been linked to lower cholesterol levels.
Carrots, as parts of meals, can increase satiety and decrease calorie intake in subsequent meals.
For this reason, carrots may be a useful addition to an effective weight loss diet.
Individuals that are low in vitamin A are more likely to experience night blindness, a condition that may improve by eating carrots or other foods rich in vitamin A or carotenoids.
Carotenoids may also cut the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
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