This article was submitted by Beatriz Garcia. She is the founder of Clan Kitchen and is a busy mum of two based in the UK.

 

Inside Scoop: What are the benefits of eating carrots? Do they really help improve eyesight? In short, they can.

 

You’ve probably heard the popular claim that eating carrots helps you see in the dark. I’ve not only heard it, but repeated it so many times it just became fact. However, this often retold claim originated with the British government, who popularized it in a WWII propaganda campaign in an attempt to deal with rations and other deprivations of the war on the home front.

Although they may not have superpower night vision enhancing abilities, carrots are still a healthy vegetable to be enjoyed in multiple variations. Read on to find out the health benefits of eating carrots and learn how to prepare them to maximize both Vitamin A and overall vitamin consumption.

Claim: Carrots Help You See In The Dark

The Royal Air Force (RAF) was extraordinarily good at intercepting German bombers. It was so good that the Nazis began wondering why. 

Britain didn’t want to reveal its secret weapon and decided to throw the German planes off the scent. So, the Air Ministry claimed that the success was a result of British pilots eating their carrots. What was the RAF’s actual secret?

Certainly not beta carotene, the compound that makes carrots orange, though it does have health benefits. It was the invention of radar, a technology that the National Socialist Worker’s Party (Nazis), and their German aircraft, didn’t yet have.

Vision

Although they are a good source of Vitamin A, carrots won’t directly improve your night vision. If, however, you are found to have a deficiency of Vitamin A, having more will help your vision. This includes your night vision!

eating carrots for eyesight

If you don’t like carrots, you can find a useful list here of other foods that may also improve your Vitamin A levels.

Many people deal with issues such as macular degeneration, eye disease, vision loss, poor vision and worsening eyesight as they age. 

In addition, lack of Vitamin A and beta carotene as well as overall poor vitamin and nutrient consumption affect many younger people in today’s busy world. Convenience can sometimes override concerns about your eye and eye health!

Nutritional Breakdown

Firstly, carrots are a root vegetable that can be incorporated as part of a balanced diet. Two small carrots weigh about 100g. Some of the key nutrients in 100g of raw carrots are:

  • 6g Carbohydrates, of which:
    • 8g is Fiber
    • 7g is Sugar
  • 33 mg Calcium (2% of Daily Value)
  • 320mg Potassium (7% of Daily Value)
  • 9mg Vitamin C (10% of daily value)

Secondly, they contain beta carotene, a source of Vitamin A and an antioxidant in its own right. Balance is everything in a healthy diet. Like most vitamins, excess Vitamin A can actually be toxic. Luckily, the body will only convert as much beta-carotene to Vitamin A as it needs. 

Are Carrots Good for You?

The short answer is yes.

Eyes

I’ve always thought that the “traffic light approach” to filling your plate is a good one. By this, I mean eating fruit and vegetables with a range of colors at every meal. Beta carotene, the ingredient that turns a carrot orange,  is a safe source of Vitamin A, which is good for your eyes and your eye health.

meal with carrots

Fighting Cancer

There are some studies indicating that carrot consumption may even help your body fight cancer. Yet none is conclusive. One study indicated carrots may even fight lung cancer.

However, there is other evidence that components in carrots do help fight cancer. Moreover, they are a source of fiber, and fiber helps digestion. In other words, they can possibly assist in reducing colon cancer.

Immune System

Since carrots are a source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, they are a good immune system booster. As we discussed with the traffic light visual, the more colorful your plate, the better.  Healthy eyes and healthy vision are part of your overall health. A strong immune system can only help.

Healthy Heart

Potassium is also important for a healthy heart, as well as the rest of your body. But you don’t need to eat a banana daily to get your Potassium as popularly repeated. Carrots are abundant in this mineral, as well as chock full of antioxidants.

Skin

Don’t want to eat carrots? There are other ways to reap their benefits. You can rub them onto your skin to help prevent wrinkles and acne.  Look for a skin care product with a retinoid as an active ingredient.

You can even make a paste yourself from carrots and other household ingredients if you wish to save money, or just prefer the more natural route.

Check out Pinterest for ideas or buy a carrot based face cream online. Or mix and match to see which ones work best for your skin and body.

How to Prepare Carrots

I’ve always heard that it’s better to eat vegetables raw, as cooking leaches out nutrients. There is probably something to be said for that in some foods. In this case, cooked carrots can have some advantages.

cooked carrots

 Cooking some vegetables, including carrots, makes them healthier by increasing antioxidants. This is especially the case for steaming, as water cooked vegetables retain more nutrients than some other cooking methods.

Boiling certain vegetables, alternately, can result in the loss of essential vitamins, as they leach out into the water. If this is an area of concern for you, do a bit more research about the specific food that you are cooking and your preferred method.

If your preferred approach is a mixture of steamed and raw vegetables, light salads are an excellent choice. Here is one recipe to try for those without any nut allergies. Raw Vegan Pad Thai.

Carbohydrates

I’m always arguing with my husband who insists that carrots are not compatible with his keto diet, which eschews starchy vegetables. He refuses to eat them. This means that I have to cook two meals if I want  to enjoy a sweet potato or carrot dish. Are keto proponents right about this?

While root vegetables are not the highest carb foods out there, they aren’t something to eat in vast quantities if you’re avoiding carbohydrate sugars.

Carrots are one of the lower carb below ground vegetables. If you do decide to include root vegetables in your ketogenic diet, carrots are amongst the better ones to choose from in moderation.

Orange Skin

Eating carrots can actually help give your skin a glow. But have you heard the claim that they can actually turn your skin orange?

If your body has accumulated excess beta carotene from over consumption, then your skin could possibly take on a distinct orange tone.

Since it would take consuming 10 carrots daily for weeks at a time, you would need to ingest a lot of carrots for this to happen. In any case it isn’t dangerous. Just make sure that your diet is well balanced and includes proteins and healthy fats as well.

A 2014 study actually discovered that gaining some color due to increased carotenoid consumption had a positive effect on perceived attractiveness by others. In fact, those whose coloration changed due to their diet were found to be more attractive than those whose coloration changed due to a suntan. 

If your skin turns excessively orange from this, stop eating them and the color will fade without any issues. This is, however, much more likely to occur in newly weaned babies who tend to be fed a disproportionate amount of soft, cooked root vegetables in their diets.

Conclusion

If you want to see in the dark, look into night vision goggles as just eating a carrot will not improve your vision or eyesight, or improve your overall eye health dramatically.

Carrots are good for you as part of an overall balanced, healthy diet.

Do not worry about eating too many, unless you follow a low-sugar ketogenic or anti-inflammatory diet. In that case, you will definitely want to moderate your carrot and overall root vegetable intake.

When it comes to cooking, raw isn’t always better than cooked. Including multiple different cooking and food preparation methods is a good way to balance out your vitamin and nutrient needs.

In conclusion, moderation in everything. Unless, of course, you are trying to turn orange. In which case, bottoms up! But maybe wait for Halloween?

Like this one? Make sure to check out more on this topic from Naughty Nutrition here.

Beatriz Garcia is a busy mum of two based in the UK who likes to prepare tasty and healthy food for her family.  She is the founder of Clan Kitchen  where she writes about the tools she uses for cooking.  Beatriz wants to use her experiences to help people cook delicious and nutritious food for their families.  Her favorite trick is throwing some raw vegetables, spices, and oils in a blender for a very short time to get an instant traffic light salad

 

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