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Health Benefits of Eating Carrots

Healthy carrots

Children have long been encouraged by their mothers and grandmothers to eat their carrots — and for good reason. These vibrant orange vegetables, sometimes referred to as the poor man's ginseng, are loaded with nutrients and phytochemicals which can offer a plethora of health benefits. To maximize these benefits, it is advisable to opt for organically grown carrots whenever possible: according to research, conventionally grown carrots are among the most contaminated vegetables in terms of pesticide and chemical content.

A Vegetable for Sunny Days

Carrots are one of the best dietary sources of beta-carotene — a nutrient that is known to help protect the skin against damage from sun exposure. When buying these delicious root vegetables, choose carrots with the deepest, darkest orange color as they contain the highest levels of beta-carotene. What's more, steaming carrots slightly can improve the availability of beta-carotene. Also eating carrots with a little bit of fat helps the body make the best use of the beta-carotene contained in these lovely veggies.

Protection Against Cancer?

Research suggests that eating plenty of carrots can lower the risk of lung cancer for smokers. In one study, the researchers interviewed 417 lung cancer cases and 849 controls on their tobacco use and their intake of four food items rich in vitamin A or its precursor beta-carotene: liver, cheese, carrots, and green leafy vegetables. Both green leafy vegetables and carrots were found to cut the lung cancer risk in smokers, but carrots were found to exert a stronger protective effect.

In addition to being rich in beta-carotene, carrots provide an excellent source of falcarinol — a natural compound that has been shown to inhibit the development of many types of cancer. Researchers found that rats that had pre-cancerous tumors and that were fed carrots were one third less likely to develop full-scale tumors than the animals in the control group. If you prefer cooked carrots over raw ones, it is best to keep the vegetables whole during boiling or steaming and chop them only afterwards; this helps them retain antioxidant nutrients and falcarinol.

Carrots Nutrition Facts

  • Glycemic Index (GI) Rating / Glycemic Load: Raw carrots have a low Glycemic Index rating (35±5) and an extremely low Glycemic Load value (2 per 80 grams).
  • Calories: Carrots are extremely low in calories, with 1 large carrot containing merely 5 calories!
  • Macronutrients: Carrots are mainly made of carbohydrates (including dietary fiber) and water. They contain zero fat and protein.
  • Vitamins: Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). Beta-carotene becomes more available when carrots are steamed slightly and/or eaten in tandem with a little bit of fat. Carrots are also a good source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin K. Note: Some people may not be able to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A due to a genetic variation.

Carrot Recipes with Health Benefits

Looking for healthy carrot recipes? Here's a selection of mouthwatering recipes that pair carrots with other health promoting foods and ingredients:

Curried Carrot Soup

This hearty carrot soup, rich in antioxidants, is seasoned with powerful health promoting spices including ginger, curry, garlic, and onion. These spices are famous for their flu-treating properties but they may also help keep your intestines healthy (curry is rich in curcumin which has been shown to inhibit the growth of new colon cancer cells and ginger contains gingerol which appears to suppress colon cancer cell growth).
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Beet and Carrot Salad with Ginger

This recipe pairs beets with carrots to create a potent weapon for fighting several types of cancer. Research suggests that betacyanin, a phytochemical responsible for beets' intense purple color, is highly effective at preventing cancer while carrots are rich in falcarinol — a natural compound that has been shown to inhibit the development of cancer. The anti-cancer compounds in carrots and beets are heat-sensitive and therefore it is a good idea to eat these powerful root vegetables raw like in this salad.
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Barley Soup with Carrots and Parsley

Provided that you are not sensitive or allergic to gluten, barley is one of the healthiest grains you can eat as it has the lowest Glycemic Index (GI) rating of all common grains. The carrots and parsley also add to the health benefits of this soup as they are loaded with beta-carotene.
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Beet and Carrot Soup

Beets and carrots provide an abundance of magnesium which can help fight insulin resistance, alleviate menstrual cramps, aid in the body's absorption of calcium and maintain a healthy heart. This soup may also be helpful for those following an anti-inflammatory diet: beets are known to have anti-inflammatory activity and the ginger featured in this soup contains zingibain, a proteolytic enzyme with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
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Carrot, Tomato and Lentil Soup

This soup is packed with carotenoids, natural plant pigments that are abundant both in carrots and tomatoes and that offer numerous health benefits. For example, carotenoids can protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and boost your immune system. As a bonus, this soup is rich in fiber. Fiber helps maintain healthy intestines but it also appears to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.
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