Carrots – For Humans Too (Not Just for Rabbits)

There must be a reason why Bugs Bunny couldn't get enough of carrots. (photo from http://www.cartoonbrew.com/cartoon-culture/looney-tunes-stoners-33307.html)

Parents often tell absurd stories just to make their children eat vegetables.  Just like how my Mom made me believe that Bugs Bunny’s carrot-munching made him invincible to all of Elmer’s failed attempts to trap him.  Eventually, I got over that, but after so many years.

So when I read about an urban legend about consuming large amounts of carrots will allow one to see in the dark, I got curious. The legend developed from stories of a World War II British gunner, John Cunningham, who was able to shoot down German planes in the darkness of the night. The legend arose during the Battle of Britain when the RAF circulated a story about their pilots’ carrot consumption but was actually just a ruse to cover up the discovery and use of radar technologies in engaging enemy planes, as well as the use of red light (which does not destroy night vision) in aircraft instruments. It also reinforced existing German folklore, and helped to encourage Britons—looking to improve their night vision during the blackouts (compulsary during WWII)—to grow and eat the vegetable.

The legend may be ridiculous, but that doesn’t make the carrot less nutritious and delicious. Carrots are actually brimming with nutrients and come with loads of health benefits such as:

  • Carrot will improve one’s vision. Western culture’s understanding of carrots being ‘good for the eyes’ is one of the few we got right. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver, which is transformed in the retina, to rhodopsin,a purple pigment necessary for night vision.
    Beta-carotene also protects against macular degeneration and senile cataracts. A study found that people who eat the most beta-carotene had 40 percent lower risk of macular degeneration than those who consumed little.
  • Carrots have cancer-preventing properties. Studies have shown carrots reduce the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. Researchers have just discovered that carrots contain compounds falcarinol and falcarindiol which have anticancer properties. In daily diet, carrots are almost the only source of these compounds.
  • Carrots are anti-aging.Carrots contain a lot of beta-carotene, which serves as an antioxidant that helps the body to fight against free radicals. It also help slows down the aging of cells and various negative effect associated with aging.
  • Carrots promote health glowing skin.Vitamin A and antioxidants and the antioxidants from carrots protect the skin from sun damage. Vitamin A also prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes and uneven skin tone.
  • Carrots have antiseptic properties. Herbalists swear by carrots to prevent infection. They can be used on cuts shredded raw or boiled and mashed.
  • Carrots can prevent heart diseases.Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein. The soluble fibers in carrots bind with bile acids and reduces cholesterol levels.
  • Carrots can make make your teeth and gums healthy. Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They can scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or tooth paste. Carrots also stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which being alkaline, balances out the acid forming, cavity forming bacteria. The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.
  • Carrots can prevent stroke. A study showed that eating carrots at least five times a week can reduce the risk of stroke. The activity of beta carotene prevents the occurrence of plaque or cholesterol deposits in blood vessels. Beta carotene is the most active pigments when compared with the alpha and gamma carotene. Usually known as beta carotene provitamin A that the intestinal wall.

Will you get more nutrients  from carrots  when eaten raw?

There must be a reason why Bugs Bunny couldn’t get enough of carrots. (photo from http://www.cartoonbrew.com/cartoon-culture/looney-tunes-stoners-33307.html)

Most people believe that going raw is the best way to eat vegetables because heating vegetables, either during processing or cooking, is a way of reducing enzyme activity that can lead to undesirable changes in colour, flavour and texture. But it is opposite with carrots. Because raw carrots have tough cellular walls, cooking carrots will dissolve these walls and free the nutrients. Heat can also change compounds found in the raw food into other chemically related compounds.

It has been found that cooking carrots actually increases the level of beta-carotene.. An experiment carried out at the Institute of Food Research in 2009 showed that the body can absorb about 5% of the beta carotene from a single carrot, but when boiled, carrots could release from 60% to a whopping 90%.

So, my Mom is right after all. Carrot can’t give you super powers, but they can make you super healthy

 

Web References:

http://realfoodforlife.com/10-benefits-of-carrots-the-crunchy-powerfood/

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-benefits-of-carrots.html

http://www.healthonlinezine.info/7-health-benefits-of-carrots-nutritional-value-of-carrot.html

http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-carrot.html

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/carrots.html

http://notecook.com/desserts/fruits/carrots-prevent-stroke/#ixzz2JZQOIioZ