Carrots and Four Reasons
Why You Should Eat Them!
Carrots may be well known for their beta-carotene content, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and folate. Thus, they act as a potent defense against respiratory illness like the common cold, flu, or asthma. They help make breathing easier is why ancient Greeks fed them to horses to improve their respiratory function, thus speed! The carrot tops should not be wasted either. They can be used as an alternative to parsley. The tops contain phosphorus, which is beneficial for nerves. However, the carrots are phosphorus free, so are great for those with kidney disease, or who need to eliminate phosphorus from their diet. There are many many reasons to include a daily dose of carrots into your diet. Let's talk about four great reasons why you should eat carrots.
1. Joint pain and arthritis control. Carrots contain the right balanced amount sodium, and potassium, which are minerals often deficient in arthritis patients. Plus, vitamin C is necessary for cartilage, and connective tissue formation. The electrolytes present in carrots help prevent or speed recovery from dehydration that occur during sports events, extreme weather, or travelers' diarrhea. For arthritis and fluid hydration carrot juice or carrot soup is better than raw carrots. Adding endive to the recipe can enhance the arthritis healing effects.
2. Benefits the heart, reduces cholesterol levels, and balances hormones. There is a type of fiber present in carrots called calcium pectate that reduces fat carried in the blood. A study where healthy volunteers ate two medium carrots per day for three weeks reduced their blood cholesterol levels by 11%. This fiber increases bile acids allowing the excretion of excess estrogen. Study showed a 50% increase in fecal bile acid and fat excretion among subjects who consumed raw carrots at breakfast. Excess estrogen is associated with numerous disease such as cancer and hypothyroidism. Estrogen reduction is especially important nowadays, given the level of estrogen-like chemicals (Xenoestrogens) in our environment.1
3. Improves the health of the colon. The pectate also works to act as a soluble fiber alleviating constipation and hemorrhoids. Because is can carry thirty times it weight in water it also acts like an appetite suppressant. The crunchy noise while eating carrots has been shown to also help reduce stress levels.
4. Reduce the risk of some cancers. Studies by Regina G. Ziegler, a National Institute epidemiologist, have shown that eating a carrot a day, or 1/2 cups juiced carrots reduced the risk of developing lung cancer as much as 50%.2 It is thought that the carotene complex blocks the progressive cellular damage of cancers of the larynx, esophagus, prostate, bladder, cervix, and liver, says the American Institute for Cancer Research. Epidemiologists at the University of Minnesota found constituents such as alpha-carotene, and other phytochemicals such as p-coumaric and chlorogenic acids interrupt formation of carcinogens in early stages.3
How should you eat carrots?
You should eat a balance between raw and cooked carrots if you can. Studies indicate that humans absorb more beta-carotene through cooked carrots rather than raw.4 Cooking and eating is all about chemistry after all. Cooking is like pre-digesting your food for you in the cooking pot. This is why for many people eating raw carrots causes stomach pain or upset. They are unable to break down raw carrots easily. Cooking carrots in a soup, stir-fry, sauté, or roasting may help people with weak digestion and with conditions like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, reflux, or ulcers enjoy the benefits without the pain. Juicing or pureeing is another way to make them easier to digest. Eating them with a fat is another way to increase the beta-carotene absorption. Good fats to sauté carrots in would be olive oil with a little sea salt, and parsley. Try eating 2 raw carrots, 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cooked or juiced carrots per day.
Eating too many carrots can result in carotenemia, a condition in which your skin turns orange. You would need to eat about 10 or more carrots per day for a few weeks for this to occur. It will resolve once you stop the over consumption of beta-carotene, but it may take up to a few months. There is no known health danger associated however.
Carrot soup has many health benefits. The benefits may include alleviating diarrhea or constipation, promoting eye health, skin health, and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Stay-tuned for my carrot soup recipe.
Dr. Michele Arnold-Your Holistic Health Coach and Acupuncturist.
4. Ghavami A, Coward WA, Bluck LJ. The effect of food preparation on the bioavailability of carotenoids from carrots using intrinsic labelling. Br J Nutr. 2012 May;107(9):1350-66. doi: 10.1017/S000711451100451X. Epub 2011 Sep 19. PMID: 21923982.