When we think of superfoods, surely our mind will immediately go to exotic, rare and special foods. Actually, we have a very tasty superfood on hand, easy to find and abundant on supermarket shelves, the carrot! Today we are talking about the properties of carrots, trying to understand their benefits and the best ways to serve them.
Carrots, colors and nutrients
Carrots are a valuable source of fiber, minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins, such as C and group B (Ahmad et al, Foods, 2019). Not only that, carrots contain powerful antioxidants, such as beta carotene, lutein, anthocyanins, phenols and lycopene. However, these substances vary according to the type of carrot. And how do we understand it? That's easy, on the basis of color. In fact, in orange carrots, very common in our supermarkets, beta carotene abounds, which is important for the proper functioning of the immune system and for the health of sight. Yellow carrots are the variety that contains the most lutein, an antioxidant that accumulates in the center of the retina, the macula, and helps protect it from blue light damage. Lycopene, a substance with an antitumor action, prevails in red carrots, while purple carrots contain more anthocyanins and phenolic compounds showing the highest antioxidant, anti-aging, neuroprotective, antidiabetic and antitumor action (Ahmad et al, Foods, 2019).
Carrots for sight health
Carrots, especially in the orange variety, are a precious source of beta carotene, a pigment with antioxidant power that is important for sight health. In fact, beta carotene is among the substances, such as vitamin C, E and zinc, considered useful for reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (Rasmussen et al, Clin Interv Aging, 2013). Not only that, greater consumption of carrots is also associated with a better ability to see in dark conditions (Smith et al, Aust N Z J Ophthalmol, 1999).
Carrots and lungs
Carrots, heart and visceral fat
Carrots protect heart health since they increase the level of circulating antioxidants and counteract the oxidation of lipids, a condition that increases cardiovascular risk (Potter et al, Nutr J, 2011). Carrots are good for the heart when they are eaten as a whole vegetable, perhaps cut into julienne strips, as in this way you can fill up with fiber and antioxidants, which keep cholesterol under control. But carrot juice is also excellent, so sweet and tasty, made with both orange and purple carrots. Indeed, it has been observed that drinking purple carrot juice also improves liver function and reduces the accumulation of visceral fat (Soleti et al, Nutreints, 2021).
Carrots and skin
Eating carrots or drinking carrot juice is also good for the skin. In fact, in this way we can fill up with vitamin C, which stimulates the production of collagen, essential for ensuring skin tone, and which counteracts photo-aging (Pullar et al, Nutrients, 2017).
Carrots, not just in salads!
Most of the carrot's antioxidants are found in the outermost layers and in the peel. This is why it is important, when cleaning the carrot, not to peel the carrot but only to brush it well under running water. To preserve most of the nutrients, it is important to consume raw carrot.
Alternatively, to fill up on beta carotene, you can also choose to boil carrots. In fact, boiling can even increase the extraction, and therefore the availability, of beta carotene. Boiling makes the cell walls of the carrots softer and this makes the beta carotene more available (Paciulli et al, J Food Sci Technol, 2016). Not to forget the delicious carrot juice, also what you buy in supermarkets. In fact, the juice preserves most of the beta carotene (Sharma et al, J Food Sci Technol, 2012).