Today, carrots are a staple in the kitchen, both at home and at your local juice shop, but it wasn’t always that way! According to our knowledge of written history, the early varieties of carrots were bitter and only used medicinally; they wouldn’t be cultivated into the sweet, bright orange variety we’re familiar with today until the 1500s. Thankfully our ancestors chose to select for these brighter varieties of carrots because not only did they produce a more enjoyable tasting carrot, but they created a carrot with an abundant source of beta-carotene, a bright pigment that the body uses to produce vitamin A. How abundant, you ask? Well, just one ounce of carrot juice provides 113% of your daily value of vitamin A! This leads us to the top 5 health benefits of carrots:
- Supports Vision: Vitamin A is essential for the production of rhodopsin, a protein that allows your retinas to absorb light and take in your surroundings. A clinical trial from 2001 showed that people supplementing with antioxidants, including beta-carotene, were 25% less likely to develop advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of vision-loss later in life.
- Fights Cancer: Beta-carotene is an antioxidant, a substance that donates electrons to free radicals and helps prevent them from damaging healthy cells. Once converted into vitamin A, it also regulates cell growth and differentiation, processes that are unchecked in cancerous cells.
- Boosts Metabolism: A study showed that beta-carotene and other carotenoids help lower fat stores and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
- Protects Skin: Vitamin A is needed for maintaining healthy skin, so in rare cases, beta-carotene is used to treat people with sun sensitivity.
- Bolsters Immune System: Along with its general regulatory role throughout the body, vitamin A promotes gut health as it’s metabolised into retinoic acid, a molecule that enhances numerous immune responses, including cytotoxicity and T-cell proliferation.
And that’s just from carrot’s rich store of vitamin A! Carrots also provide a significant source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium, which bring their own powerful health benefits. So the next time you pass a juice. Nashville shop, come in and grab one of our carrot-heavy juices, like i heart carrots. or snap., and receive the benefits!
-Michael Guido, Juice Ambassador, BA Biological Sciences, University of Chicago
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