Nutrients in Carrots
Carrots contain many plant compounds, but the carotenoids are by far the best known.
These are substances with powerful antioxidant activity, and have been linked to improved immune function and reduced risk of many diseases. This includes cardiovascular disease, various degenerative diseases, and certain types of cancer.
Beta-carotene, the main carotene in carrots, can be converted to vitamin A in the body.
However, there is some individual variability in how effective this conversion process is. Eating fat with the carrots can also help you absorb more of the beta-carotene.
These are the main plant compounds found in carrots:
- Beta-carotene:Orange carrots are very high in beta-carotene. The absorption is better (up to 6.5-fold) if the carrots are cooked.
- Alpha-carotene:An antioxidant that is also partly converted to vitamin A.
- Lutein:One of the most common antioxidants in carrots, predominantly found in yellow and orange carrots and is important for eye health.
- Lycopene:A bright red antioxidant found in many red fruits and vegetables, including red and purple carrots. It may decrease the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Polyacetylenes:Recent research has identified bioactive compounds in carrots that may help protect against leukemia and cancer cells.
- Anthocyanins:Powerful antioxidants found in dark-colored carrots.
The BOTTOM LINE is: Carrots are a great source of many plant compounds, especially carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lutein.
Much of the research on carrots has focused on carotenoids.
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.
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.
The BOTTOM LINE is: Carrot consumption has been linked with reduced risk of cancer and heart disease, and improved eye health. They may be a valuable component of an effective weight loss diet.