Crunch crunch crunch!
Oh, that’s just me munching on a carrot as I write this post. It’s really hard to read about all of the wonderful benefits of this sweet veggie and not immediately rush to grab one! So I did.
Before we jump to the fun stuff, let’s go over the basics. One medium carrot or ½ cup of grated carrots provides about:
- 210% RDA of vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene)
- 10% RDA of vitamin K
- 6% RDA vitamin C
- 2% RDA of calcium
This is a lot of vitamin A! Since vitamin A deficiency can cause your eyes’ photoreceptors to deteriorate, leading to vision problems, carrots are widely hailed for protecting vision.
But there’s SO much more to this sweet root veggie.
Raw carrot skins contain insoluble fiber that binds toxins in our intestines — particularly endotoxins, which are found in unhealthy bacteria — but without harming the healthy bacteria. Endotoxins have been shown to contribute to a variety of autoimmune problems, and cause an imbalance in hormones. The insoluble fibers bind to these toxins, and both are then eliminated after they make their way through the digestive track.
Insoluble fiber has other benefits as well. It relieves constipation and increases regularity. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating 200 grams of raw carrot (about one large carrot or 2 cups of shredded carrot) each day at breakfast:
- Increased fat excretion by 50%
- Increased stool weight by 25%
Proper elimination is a necessary component of your body’s natural detoxification processes. The insoluble fiber found in carrot skins help move this process along (literally).
As previously mentioned, endotoxins cause an imbalance in hormones. And since carrots help eliminate endotoxins from the intestines, they can have a balancing effect on hormones. It also helps to absorb excess estrogen from the intestine.
According to Dr. Ray Peat,
One vegetable has a special place in a diet to balance the hormones, and that is the raw carrot. It is so nearly indigestible that, when it is well chewed or grated, it helps to stimulate the intestine and reduce the reabsorption of estrogen and the absorption of bacterial toxins. In these effects on the bowel, which improve hormonal balance, a carrot salad resembles antibiotic therapy, except that the carrot salad can be used every day for years without harmful side-effects. Many people find that daily use of the raw carrot eliminates their PMS.
Read more about how to balance hormones with a raw carrot a day from Empowered Sustenance.
Decreased risk of heart disease
Regular consumption of insoluble fiber is associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease. The fiber helps keep arteries from narrowing, thus reducing the ability of plaque to build up. Some studies suggest that beta-carotene, as a potent antioxidant, also reduces the risk of heart disease.
In particular, carrots are associated with a 32% lower risk of heart disease. This is huge. In addition, they have also been associated with a lower risk of heart attacks in women.
You will not get this benefit from “baby carrots,” juiced carrots, or cooked carrots.
Baby carrots and juiced carrots clearly do not have the carrot skins, which is where the insoluble fiber is found. Also, cooking carrots breaks down the insoluble fiber.
The only way to get these benefits is to eat raw, unpeeled carrots (preferably organic).
But don’t get too carried away now!
If you eat too many carrots, you will turn orange. No, this is not one of those urban legends or lies your mom told you to make sure you acted appropriately (“If you keep making that face, it’s going to stay that way!”). Now I’m not talking full-on Oompa Loompa here. Think “Jersey Shore.”
More importantly, carrots are relatively high in sugar, so enjoy in moderation.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, The effect of raw carrot on serum lipids and colon function
- US National Library of Medicine, Association between certain foods and risk of acute myocardial infarction in women
- British Journal of Nutrition, Colours of fruit and vegetables and 10-year incidence of CHD