9 benefits of carrots: How they can boost your immune system, help with weight loss, and more

Carrots
A half cup of carrots contains 51% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Sergio Amiti/Getty Images
  • Carrots can benefit your eyesight and boost your immune system since they are high in vitamin A.
  • Purple carrots, in particular, are good for fighting inflammation since they contain anthocyanin.
  • Eating carrots can also help protect your skin from UV radiation damage.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

Veggies like carrots are loaded with nutrients that provide numerous health benefits like keeping your eyes and heart healthy.

Whether you’re snacking on some baby carrots or you’re eating some carrot casserole with dinner, carrots are a low-calorie, nutrient-packed food worthy of a healthy diet.

Here are nine important health benefits to get you excited about this versatile veggie.

1. Supports eyesight

Carrots are rich in beta carotene, a compound that the body converts into vitamin A, which supports the health of your cornea, the outermost layer of your eye. In fact, 1/2 cup serving of carrots contains 51% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

The vitamin can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, vision loss, and night blindness, says Natalie Allen, RD, clinical assistant professor of Biomedical Sciences at Missouri State University.

2. Boosts your immune system

Vitamin A is crucial for immune system support, says Emily Rice, RD at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

This is because vitamin A helps support T-cells, which are white blood cells that help our immune system. A strengthened immune system gives your body a better fighting chance against infection.

3. Benefits your skin

A 2012 review found that consuming foods rich in beta carotene can help defend your skin from UV radiation damage.

If you’re looking to help your body convert more beta carotene into vitamin A, you should eat carrots with a small amount of fat. This helps because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it needs to dissolve in fat for the body to absorb it.

4. Helps your gut

Carrots are a high-fiber food, containing 3.58 grams of fiber per one-cup serving of raw carrots. Fiber can help some people maintain healthy and regular bowel movements, says Rice, aiding with your overall gut health.

If you’re looking to get the most fiber possible, opt for raw overcooked carrots. “When a food is cooked, the fiber walls get softer and may break down slightly thus reducing some of the fiber in the food, although not by much,” says Rice.

5. Helps with weight loss

High-fiber foods like carrots can be helpful for weight loss, if this is something your doctor has recommended for you.

This is because fiber from carrots adds volume, which fills your stomach, but without adding too many calories.. “This sense of fullness may result in eating fewer calories during the day and potentially lead to weight loss over time,” says Rice.

In fact, an interesting 2006 study compared satiety levels from people who essentially ate carrots with and without fiber and found that those who ate the fiber reported greater feelings of fullness and ate fewer calories later on in the day compared to those who didn’t get the fiber.

6. Aids in controlling blood sugar

Carrots are low on the glycemic index (GI), which is a scale ranging from one to 70 plus that indicates how much a food can cause your blood sugar to spike.

“Food is considered a low glycemic food if it does not spike your blood sugar quickly, and is considered a high glycemic food if it spikes blood sugars rapidly,” says Rice. Typically low glycemic foods have a GI of 49 or lower.

Controlling your blood sugar levels, and preventing spikes by eating low-glycemic foods, is important for everyone, but especially so for people with prediabetes and diabetes because it helps them manage their condition.

Cooked carrots are ranked around 39 on the glycemic index, whereas foods like bread, potatoes, or snacks like crackers have a GI index of 70 or higher. Carrots don’t typically cause a rise in blood sugar, making them a great choice for snacks or side dishes.

Raw carrots are even lower on the glycemic index than cooked carrots, Allen says. Also, if you’re going to cook your carrots, be mindful of what you add. For example, a balsamic, honey glaze is likely going to up the GI more than adding pecans and a dash of cinnamon.

7. May lower your cholesterol

Non-starchy veggies like carrots are heart-healthy and good for your cholesterol, says Allen. This is in part due to the fact that carrots are so rich in soluble fiber, which can help to naturally lower your cholesterol.

If you are dealing with high cholesterol, it’s important to make efforts to lower it, since high cholesterol can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Dietary changes are one way you can reverse bad cholesterol, along with other healthy lifestyle changes like exercising, losing weight, and quitting smoking.

8. High in antioxidants

Carrots are loaded with antioxidants, which are compounds that fight free radicals. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress resulting in health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Therefore, regularly consuming foods like carrots that are rich in antioxidants can help protect against disease and maintain good health.

9. Fights inflammation in the body

While orange carrots are by far the most popular, you can also find red, yellow, purple, and white carrots. Of all the colors, purple carrots contain the most of a compound called anthocyanin.

Anthocyanin is a carotenoid, which is a pigment that functions as an antioxidant. In addition to fighting free radicals, this compound may help reduce inflammation in the body.

Fighting inflammation is crucial, since chronic inflammation contributes to diseases like heart disease, alzheimers, and arthritis.

Insider’s takeaway

The nutrients in carrots offer plenty of health benefits that make them well worth eating. In addition to being an important source of vitamin A, carrots are also great for weight loss, digestion, and even the health of your skin.

In order to maintain good overall health, it’s important to eat a balanced diet including nutrients from all food groups, and adding carrots into your diet is a great place to start.

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