Carrots, over time, have been said to be great for our eyes. The question is how? or was this a trick my parents used to make me eat my veggies?
Well, keep reading cause we’re going to unravel this mystery.
All About Carrots
Carrots are root vegetables that contain several minerals, vitamins, and fiber.2 The carrot is made up of stems, leaves, and a root (typical plant right?), but the interesting thing is the most eaten part of this plant is the root. Yes, the orange carrot we eat is actually the root of the plant. The stems and leaves can also be eaten.
The carrot has its origin in Persia, where they mainly harvested the leaves and seeds. It was said that the original, wild variant of the carrot had a bitter taste, and over the years was bred and modified to have a sweeter taste.
Carrots are biennial plants, which means it takes 2 years to complete their biological life cycle.
Nutrition facts of carrots
Carrots contain beta-carotene. This beta-carotene gives the carrot its orange color. Another root vegetable that contains beta-carotene is sweet potatoes. Beta carotene in carrots, when digested, is converted to vitamin A. More information on benefits of vitamin A can be seen at the NHS website.3
Carrots also contain vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, calcium, and biotin, which are also great for your health.
There's a myth that says cooked carrots lose all their nutrients. This myth is false as cooked carrots still contain nutrients, and are great to help switch meals up.
Cooked carrots can be used in pasta, stews, some soups, literally in any meal you like, so don't hesitate to cook your carrots.
Carrots juice is also an alternative to cooked carrots.
Health benefits of carrots
Carrots are essentially healthy, as they contain several important vitamins. However, some specific health benefits seen to be associated with carrot consumption include:
- Good eye health; Vitamin A helps maintain a clear cornea, and studies have shown that vitamin A eye drops help with dry eyes.
- Reduction of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration; Age-related macular degeneration is the degeneration of the macula which is responsible for sharp daytime vision.5 This disease occurs with increasing age, mainly in elderlies. Vitamin A has been shown to reduce the progression of the disease and vision loss, due to its antioxidant properties, thus reducing oxidant damage from the disease.
- Vitamin A in carrots has been seen to lower the risk of developing cataracts.
- Potassium contained in carrots helps regulate blood pressure
- Fiber contained in carrots aids digestion, eases constipation, and also helps one to maintain a healthy weight
- Vitamin C contained in carrots helps to strengthen your immune system
- The fiber content in carrots has also been shown to lower blood sugar and is thus recommended for diabetics.
- Carrots contain vitamin K and calcium, which are not important for strengthening bones.
- Reduces risk of developing cancer; Carrots possess antioxidants which protect your cells from oxidant damage. This oxidant damage has been implicated in the development of certain cancers, and thus the antioxidants in carrots can lower the risk of developing cancer.
Are carrots good for your eyes?
Yes. As earlier explained, carrots contain beta-carotene which when digested in our stomach is converted to vitamin A, which is great for eyesight.
However, the myth that says vitamin A improves night vision is false. It was said that this myth was birthed from British propaganda in World War II.
Vitamin A rather prevents night blindness as it is a component of a protein called rhodopsin which is important for normal night vision.
Also, vitamin A has not been seen to improve vision in healthy eyes but has been of tremendous use in people with vitamin A deficiency-related eye diseases
Other ways to improve your eyesight
There are several other ways to improve eyesight, and they include:
- Foods containing zeaxanthin and lutein, for example; dark green vegetables like collard greens, broccoli, spinach, etc, and also eggs help maintain good vision and also prevent vision loss from macular degeneration.
- Omega-3-fatty acids containing supplements or foods, for example; fish ( sardines, tuna, salmon, etc), nuts (such as walnuts, chia seeds, etc), plant oils (such as canola oil, flaxseed oil, etc).7 They help prevent many eye diseases and also prevent vision loss from macular degeneration and glaucoma. They are also useful in people with dry eye syndrome.
- Vitamin C-containing fruits and supplements help prevent oxidative damage to the eye and also protect the eye from UV rays.
- According to CDC, lifestyle modifications play a role in eye health.8 For example;
- Quit smoking; smoking increases the risk of cataracts and thus causes the individual to need future cataract surgery.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays
- Practice good eye safety in industrial workplaces
- Carry out comprehensive eye exams at an eye clinic
- Practice good hygiene, especially when handling contact lenses
- Diabetics should be consistent with their medications to prevent an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy, which is a complication of poorly treated diabetes.
Carrots are amazingly rich in several vitamins and nutrients, one of which includes beta-carotene.9 Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A which is involved in the process of night vision. Although there is no substantial evidence that vitamin A improves the eyesight of a person with healthy eyes, it has been seen to help maintain healthy eyes, and prevent damage to the eye.
Carrots are nutritious, and thus should be incorporated into meals either by boiling, steaming, sauteing, roasting, stir-frying, or eaten raw.
- Nelson, Angela. “Health Benefits of Carrots.” WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/benefits-carrots.
- Carrot.” Wikipedia, 24 June 2022. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Carrot&oldid=1094797234.
- “Vitamins and Minerals - Vitamin A.” Nhs.Uk, 23 Oct. 2017, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a/.
- Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene: Eye Benefits.” All About Vision, https://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/vitamin_a.htm.
- Khoo, Hock Eng, et al. “Nutrients for Prevention of Macular Degeneration and Eye-Related Diseases.” Antioxidants, vol. 8, no. 4, Apr. 2019, p. 85. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox8040085.
- Vitamin A Deficiency. https://www.who.int/data/nutrition/nlis/info/vitamin-a-deficiency.
- Omega 3 for Eye Health | Blog | Beverly Hills Ophthalmology. https://www.90210eyes.com/blog/omega-3-for-eye-health.
- Tips to Prevent Vision Loss | CDC. 10 Aug. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/risk/tips.htm.
- “β-Carotene.” Wikipedia, 9 July 2022. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%CE%92-Carotene&oldid=1097211625.