I had a lovely teacher when I was a kid, she told us that we should eat a carrot every day to protect our eyesight, and I used to follow her advice religiously, so, I kept eating 3 carrots a day for years.
Now, I’m a doctor and I spent most of my life studying and staring at books all day, but my vision didn’t deteriorate at all, I still have a sharp eyes and don't wear glasses, to be honest, I have no clue if eating carrots for years really protected me or I'm just one of the lucky ones that don't have bad genes in their DNA, but I'll dare and make a guess and say that it is a combination of both, because my father had myopia (genetic condition), my mother has astigmatism (genetics play a role in this condition too) and I have neither of those conditions so, yeah, my guess is carrots really did something.
In this article, we will discuss why I believe so, why carrots are important for your eye health and other benefits of carrots.
Nutritional Value of the Carrots
In order to fully understand the contribution of carrot to our health, we need to discuss first the nutrients present in it and it’s amount:
What is the Best Way to Eat Carrots?
In a recent study, the bioaccessibility of carotene was compared in raw and heated cooked carrot, and it was found that it’s much greater in raw carrot.
So, in order to get the full amount of nutrients especially carotene in carrot, it is advised to eat it in its raw form .
Benefits of Carrots for Eye Health
How does your retina work? How can you see in a dark room?
To answer those questions, you need to understand that the retina is composed of rods and cons, rods are responsible for night vision and cones are responsible for day visions.
Rods contain a pigment that receives the light which is called "rhodopsin", Vitamin A “its scientific name is all-trans-retinol” is the precursor of this pigment, vitamin A deficiency leads to decrease in light perception during night leading to night vision loss. Vitamin A also helps in converting the light into neuronal impulses.
Carrots contain a huge amount of vitamin A, which is enough if you ate it regularly to supply you with the amount of vitamin A that your body needs.
Near Sightedness (Myopia)
Carrot is well known for its effect on the eye health. Studies show positive results for using carrot to treat multiple vision-related disorders, one of the disorders to investigate the effect of carrot on it, is near sightedness, a study was conducted by the University of Illinois compared the acuity of vision in myopic people before and after consuming more carrots in their diet, they found that indeed carrot enabled those subjects to read clearly from longer distances and improved their visual acuity, this effect is caused by high levels of carotene in carrot .
Scientists have found a direct link between vitamin B complex deficiency and a decrease in visual acuity , a study was performed on school children and there was a significant link between the level of vitamin B deficiency and the level of eyesight deterioration, most of the patients improved after giving vitamin B supplementation.
Carrot, as we discussed in the table above, contains a large number of different forms of vitamin B, eating carrots regularly will protect your vision from various disorders by different mechanisms.
Health Benefits of Carrot for Pregnant Women
Decrease the risk of pre-eclampsia
Some recent studies suggest that oxidation plays a role in pre-eclampsia, so, consuming both food rich in antioxidants (vitamin E and vitamin C particularly) like carrot and taking vitamin supplementation may decrease the risk of pre-eclampsia .
Mother and baby’s nutrition
Eating healthy during the pregnancy will save both the mother and the baby form health problems in the future, carrots are an excellent source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Health Benefits of Carrots for postmenopausal Women
Carrot as a source of phytoestrogen
After menopause in women, estrogen levels decrease significantly, this leads to lots of side effects like osteoporosis, increased incidence of myocardial infarction and heart diseases, memory and mood changes, vaginal dryness and hot flushes.
Doctors treat these symptoms by giving replacement hormonal therapy (exogenous estrogen), but recently, researchers found that consuming food that contains phytoestrogen may supply the body with sufficient amount of estrogen.
Carrot contains a fair amount of phytoestrogen and can definitely be used for postmenopausal disorders .
Prevention of hip fracture in postmenopausal women
As we discussed, menopause cause osteoporosis in women, this may cause hip fracture in response to moderate or mild trauma, however, this not only because of estrogen deficiency, studies linked vitamin A deficiency directly to hip fracture in postmenopausal women .
Carrot is one of the highest vegetables at the level of vitamin A, so there are multiple reasons for consuming carrot if you are a postmenopausal woman.
Benefits of Carrots for Skin
Carrot contains a high level of vitamin A and beta-carotene , this combination provides the skin natural sun protection and protect against skin burn.
Sun exposure, environmental pollution, cigarette smoke and a wide variety of oxidants we face each day, those oxidants slowly and progressively destroy the skin and dehydrate it, this may lead to wrinkling and dry flaky skin.
Carrot is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A, those antioxidants provide some protection to the skin, though the effect of oxidants on the skin is unavoidable but consuming food rich in antioxidants like carrot may delay the effect of oxidation and improve the skin condition.
Vitamin C is known for its lightening effect on the skin, it also helps to decrease the hyperpigmentations of the face, giving a healthy looking skin.
Have you ever got a pimple before?
If you never did, everyone around here envies you, but it's not the point if you did, then you probably used tretinoin cream, this cream is a derivative from vitamin A. multiple studies showed that oral vitamin A supplementation and dietary vitamin A can decrease markedly the acne lesions. Carrot is a great source of vitamin A.
IS carrot really good for your hair?
I couldn't find any studies that discuss the relation between carrot and hair thickness and the length, but, my opinion as a doctor is: carrot is essential for better hair condition; carrot is rich in Vit A, Vit C, Vit E, biotin, pantothenic acid and other essential minerals for promoting hair growth like phosphorus.
Biotin is of special importance for increasing the rate of hair growth, and carrot is rich in biotin.
Anti-cancer effect of carrot
Cancer is a result of multiple environmental and genetic factors. Smoke and pollution lead to oxidation which in turn cause mutation, multiple mutations occur in our bodies throughout the day but our immune system removes those cells, but if a cell escaped the immune system it will grow into cancer.
Consuming a combination of antioxidants like those present in carrot may be life-saving in a way, the carrot has an effect on a number of cancers
A study  discussed the effect of concentrated carrot juice on leukemia cell, and it showed that the carotene and polyacetylenes present in carrot may lead to increase apoptosis (cell death) of tumor cells and prevent further proliferation of the tumor.
In this study , researchers found that the higher the amount of carotene in your blood the less likely you will develop colorectal cancer in the future, carotene has a protective effect against colorectal cancer.
I don’t say by any mean that you should stop your chemotherapy and go for an all natural approach for treating your cancer, this would be lethal, but I suggest you start consuming more carrot for its protective and curative properties.
Anti-diabetic Effect of Carrot
Carrot is used to control the blood glucose level as it decreases the insulin resistance in the different tissues making it easier for the body to burn glucose. Resulting in a lower blood sugar level .
Hypertension control by carrots
For a better control of hypertension, doctor advice hypertensive patients to consume food rich in fibers with high potassium level and low sodium level. Where have we seen this combination before? YES, exactly, in carrot.
Carrot is very rich in dietary fibers it high K and low Na, this allows more water and sodium excretion from the body which leads to a decrease in blood pressure and a better control of hypertension.
These dietary recommendations were made by The American Heart Association .
Boosting your immune system
Carrot is rich in vitamin C, this can add strength to your immune system , and help you in fighting cold and decrease the duration of the illness.
One of the main causes of constipation is lack of fibers because fibers add to the stool bulk making it easier for the intestine to collect all the food waste in the intestine and form stool. Carrot is a vegetable that is rich in dietary fibers, making it a good option for treating constipation
Possible Side Effects of Carrot
Orange man (hypercarotenemia)
A very excessive dietary intake of carrot may lead to a condition called hypercarotenemia, basically you turn orange, no, not nice tanned orange, I mean orange orange, trust me this doesn’t look nice at all. Hypercarotenemia can be wrongfully diagnosed as jaundice as they both have a quite similar clinical picture.
Interferes with medication in diabetics
Carrots have an anti-diabetic effect and cause lowering of the blood glucose level, this effect may interfere with the diabetes mellitus medications that have been prescribed by your doctor.
Consult the doctor about the allowed amount of carrot that you can consume.
Carrot may result in allergy in people who are allergic to celery, spices, mugwort, and carrot. This is called “celery – carrot – mugwort - spice syndrome”.
Children and pregnant women
Carrot is most likely safe for both children and pregnant women, but moderate consumption is advised.
Interact with isotretinoin
Isotretinoin is a drug used orally for acne and psoriasis treatment, is a derivative of vitamin A, high doses of vitamin A along with isotretinoin treatment may lead to vitamin A toxicity, moderate consumption of carrot is advisable.
The Bottom Line
Carrot is a cheap vegetable and an available source of multiple vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and vitamin B complex, moderate consumption of carrot is advised for people who suffer from cancer, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and constipation, carrot may help in improving those conditions and relieve the symptoms.
Pregnant, breastfeeding and postmenopausal women are highly encouraged to consume more carrots because of the previously discussed benefits of carrot.