Pleasantly crunchy, cheerful and juicy, carrots are loved by everyone, adults and children. And they are not only tasty ... indeed, they are also a valuable source of precious substances for health. In fact, carrots are rich in vitamins, such as A, C, K and group B, mineral salts, such as potassium, zinc, iron, calcium and manganese, and beta carotene, with an antioxidant and antitumor action, able to support the immune system and useful for eye health, helping to counteract degenerative diseases of the macula and the formation of cataract (Sharma et al, J Food Sci Techol, 2012).
Carrot for the skin
Carrot is a precious source of beta carotene, which in turn is essential for the production of melanin, a substance that protects the skin from damage from the sun's rays. Not only that, the vitamin C of carrot helps the skin to remain elastic and protects it from damage from UV rays (Pullar et al, Nutrients, 2017). To preserve beta-carotene and vitamin C as much as possible, carrots should be eaten raw and unpeeled, because it is precisely in the outer layers that these substances accumulate (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of foods). A good choice is therefore to brush the carrot very well under water, then slice it and serve it as a salad. But carrot can also be applied to the skin. As the famous herbalist Messeguè advises in his book My Herbarium, in fact, the carrot, when used for topical applications, is an excellent help in case of eczema, burns and irritated skin. Blend half a carrot, well washed and dried, and apply on the affected portion of skin, leave on for 30 minutes. To prepare a soothing, illuminating and regenerating face mask, you can add a spoonful of yogurt to the pulp of the pureed carrot, mix and apply on the face for ten minutes, then clean your face with a cloth, wash with water and complete with your daily treatment.
Carrot juice for the immune system and against fatigue
To the carrot juice, obtained with a centrifuge or extractor, add a few drops of lemon and drink before meals or in the morning in case of sore throat, lowered defenses or even when you feel tired and exhausted (Messeguè, Il mio Erbario). Carrot juice is a valuable source of vitamins, such as A and C, useful to strengthen the body's defenses against infections (Sharma et al, J Food Sci Techol, 2012 - Huang et al, J Clin Med, 2018). Carrot juice also provides vitamin B6, which is linked to a higher efficiency of the immune system (USDA Database - Qian et al, J Immunol Res, 2017).
Carrot for intestinal health
The carrot regulates the functionality of the intestine with a different action based on the cooking method (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of food). In fact, the carrot fried in extra virgin olive oil helps in case of diarrhea, since cooking in oil makes carrot lose part of the beta carotene, modifies the fibers and increases the bioavailability of vitamin K, which helps to coagulate the intestinal mass. If the carrot is eaten raw, however, it is indicated in the case of constipation thanks to the stimulating action on intestinal transit by the fibers and beta carotene that also stimulates the work of the liver.
Carrots and cholesterol
The carrot beta-carotene is characterized by hypocholesterolemic and antithrombotic properties. For beta-carotene to be made available, however, the carrot must be consumed either raw or boiled (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of foods). In fact, subjecting carrots to heat even seems to increase the availability of carotene (Livny et al, Eur J Nutr, 2003). It is also important not to peel the carrots but only to brush them well under running water, because, as said before, it is precisely in the most superficial layers that beta carotene and vitamins accumulate most.
Carrots and coagulation
Carrots contain vitamin K, useful in case of abundant and irregular menstruation, ulcerative colitis, frequent nosebleeds (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of foods - Vermeer et al, Food Nutr Res, 2012). Vitamin K is fat soluble, so consuming carrots raw or boiled in water would not help absorb this vitamin. A good way to consume carrots and ensure your vitamin K intake is to fry these vegetables. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large pan. Wash and brush the carrots, dry them and cut them into thin strips using, for example, a potato peeler. Add the carrots to the hot oil and fry them for a few seconds. Drain the carrots and season with salt.
Carrots and eyesight
The richness in beta-carotene of carrots makes them a very interesting food for the protection of eyesight. Indeed, carrot consumption has been observed to be associated with an improvement in night vision and a higher protection against age-related retinal degeneration (Smith et al, Aust NZJ Ophthalmol, 1999 - Rasmussen et al, Clin Interv Aging , 2013). As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, to have access to the beta-carotene of carrots you can consume these vegetables raw or, even better, boiled.