Carrots are root vegetables that were first grown in Afghanistan around 900 AD. Orange may be their best-known color, but they also come in other hues, including purple, yellow, red, and white. Early carrots were purple or yellow. Orange carrots were developed in Central Europe around the 15th or 16th century.
This popular and versatile veggie may taste slightly different depending on the color, size, and where it’s grown. The sugar in carrots gives them a slightly sweet flavor, but they also can taste earthy or bitter.
One serving of carrots is a half cup. One serving has:
6 grams of carbohydrates
2 grams of fiber
3 grams of sugar
0.5 grams of protein
Carrots are a great source of important vitamins and minerals. A half-cup can give you up to:
73% of your daily requirement of vitamin A
9% of your daily vitamin K
8% of your daily potassium and fiber
5% of your daily vitamin C
2% of your daily calcium and iron
What Carrots Can Do for You
Carrots have a wealth of antioxidants and offer many health benefits. Here are the highlights:
They’re good for your eyes. This is probably the best-known carrot superpower. They’re rich in beta-carotene, a compound your body changes into vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes healthy. And beta-carotene helps protect your eyes from the sun and lowers your chances of cataracts and other eye problems.
Yellow carrots have lutein, which is also good for your eyes. Studies have found that it can help with or prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S.
They can lower your risk of cancer. Antioxidants have been proven to fight off harmful free radicals in your body, and that can make you less likely to have cancer. The two main types of antioxidants in carrots are carotenoids and anthocyanins. Carotenoids give carrots their orange and yellow colors, while anthocyanins are responsible for red and purple coloring.
They help your heart. First, all those antioxidants are also good for your heart. Second, the potassium in carrots can help keep your blood pressure in check. And third, they have fiber, which can help you stay at a healthy weight and lower your chances of heart disease.
Red carrots also have lycopene, which helps prevent heart disease.
They boost your immune system. The vitamin C in carrots helps your body build antibodies that defend your immune system. Vitamin C also helps your body take in and use iron and prevent infections.
They can help with constipation. If you’re having trouble going to the bathroom, try munching on some raw carrots. With their high fiber content, they can help ease constipation and keep you regular.
When to Avoid Carrots
If you eat too much beta-carotene, it can make your skin turn an orange-yellow color. This condition is called carotenemia. It’s relatively harmless and usually can be treated. But in extreme cases, it can keep vitamin A from doing its job and affect your vision, bones, skin, metabolism, or immune system.
Too much beta-carotene also may cause problems for people who can’t change it to vitamin A, such as people who have hypothyroidism.