Written by Adda Bjarnadottir, MS on May 3, 2019
The carrot (Daucus carota) is a root vegetable often claimed to be the perfect health food.
It is crunchy, tasty, and highly nutritious. Carrots are a particularly good source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants (1Trusted Source).
They also have a number of health benefits. They’re a weight-loss-friendly food and have been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved eye health.
What’s more, their carotene antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.
Carrots are found in many colors, including yellow, white, orange, red, and purple.
Orange carrots get their bright color from beta carotene, an antioxidant that your body converts into vitamin A.
This article tells you everything you need to know about carrots.
The nutrition facts for two small-to-medium raw carrots (100 grams) are:
- Calories: 41
- Water: 88%
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Carbs: 9.6 grams
- Sugar: 4.7 grams
- Fiber: 2.8 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
Carrots are mainly composed of water and carbs.
The carbs consist of starch and sugars, such as sucrose and glucose (1Trusted Source).
They are also a relatively good source of fiber, with one medium-sized carrot (61 grams) providing 2 grams.
Carrots often rank low on the glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar after a meal.
Pectin is the main form of soluble fiber in carrots (8).
Soluble fibers can lower blood sugar levels by slowing down your digestion of sugar and starch.
SUMMARY Carrots are about 10% carbs, consisting of starch, fiber, and simple sugars. They are extremely low in fat and protein.
Carrots are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially biotin, potassium, and vitamins A (from beta carotene), K1 (phylloquinone), and B6.
- Vitamin A: Carrots are rich in beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. This nutrient promotes good vision and is important for growth, development, and immune function (15Trusted Source).
- Biotin: A B vitamin formerly known as vitamin H, biotin plays an important role in fat and protein metabolism (16Trusted Source).
- Vitamin K1: Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K1 is important for blood coagulation and can promote bone health (17Trusted Source, 18).
- Potassium: An essential mineral, potassium is important for blood pressure control.
- Vitamin B6: A group of related vitamins, B6 is involved in the conversion of food into energy.
SUMMARY Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. They are also a good source of several B vitamins, as well as vitamin K and potassium.
Carrots offer many plant compounds, including carotenoids.
These are substances with powerful antioxidant activity that have been linked to improved immune function and reduced risk of many illnesses, including heart disease, various degenerative ailments, and certain types of cancer (1Trusted Source).
Beta carotene, the main carotene in carrots, can be converted into vitamin A in your body.
However, this conversion process may vary by individual. Eating fat with carrots can help you absorb more of the beta carotene (19Trusted Source).
The main plant compounds in carrots are:
- Beta carotene: Orange carrots are very high in beta carotene. The absorption is better (up to 6.5-fold) if the carrots are cooked (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
- Alpha-carotene: An antioxidant that, like beta carotene, is partly converted into vitamin A in your body.
- Lutein: One of the most common antioxidants in carrots, lutein is predominantly found in yellow and orange carrots and is important for eye health (23Trusted Source).
- Lycopene: A bright red antioxidant found in many red fruits and vegetables, including red and purple carrots, lycopene may decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease (24Trusted Source).
- Polyacetylenes: Recent research has identified bioactive compounds in carrots that may help protect against leukemia and other cancers (1Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
- Anthocyanins: These are powerful antioxidants found in dark-colored carrots.
SUMMARY Carrots are a great source of many plant compounds, especially carotenoids, such as beta carotene and lutein.
Much of the research on carrots has focused on carotenoids.
Reduced risk of cancer
Diets rich in carotenoids may help protect against several types of cancer.
Women with high circulating levels of carotenoids may also have a reduced risk of breast cancer (30Trusted Source).
Lower blood cholesterol
High blood cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for heart disease.
For this reason, they may be a useful addition to an effective weight loss diet.
Individuals with low vitamin A levels are more likely to experience night blindness, a condition that may diminish by eating carrots or other foods rich in vitamin A or carotenoids (34Trusted Source).
SUMMARY Eating carrots is linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as improved eye health. Additionally, this vegetable may be a valuable component of an effective weight loss diet.
Organic farming uses natural methods for growing the crop.
Studies comparing organic and conventionally grown carrots did not find any difference in the amount of carotenoids or antioxidant content and quality (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).
However, conventionally grown carrots contain pesticide residues. The long-term health effects of low-grade pesticide intake are unclear, but some scientists have voiced concerns (43Trusted Source).
SUMMARY While no evidence suggests that organic carrots are more nutritious than conventionally grown ones, organic varieties are less likely to harbor pesticides.
Baby carrots are an increasingly popular snack food.
Two kinds of carrots are called baby carrots, which can be misleading.
One the one hand, there are whole carrots harvested while still small.
On the other hand, there are baby-cut carrots, which are pieces from larger carrots that have been machine-cut into the preferred size, then peeled, polished, and sometimes washed in small amounts of chlorine before packing.
There’s very little difference in nutrients between regular and baby carrots, and they should have the same health effects.
SUMMARY Baby carrots are whole carrots harvested before they grow large, while baby-cut carrots are pieces from larger carrots that have been machine-cut, peeled, polished, and washed before packing.
Carrots are generally considered safe to eat but may have adverse effects in some people.
Additionally, eating too much carotene can cause your skin to become a little yellow or orange, but this is harmless.
Carrot allergy is an example of cross-reactivity in which the proteins in certain fruits or vegetables cause an allergic reaction because of their similarity to the proteins found in certain types of pollen.
If you are sensitive to birch pollen or mugwort pollen, you might react to carrots.
Carrots grown in contaminated soil or exposed to contaminated water may harbor larger amounts of heavy metals, which can affect their safety and quality (48Trusted Source).
SUMMARY Carrots may cause reactions in people allergic to pollen. Additionally, carrots grown in contaminated soils may contain higher amounts of heavy metals, affecting their safety and quality.
Carrots are the perfect snack — crunchy, full of nutrients, low in calories, and sweet.
They’re associated with heart and eye health, improved digestion, and even weight loss.
This root vegetable comes in several colors, sizes, and shapes, all of which are great additions to a healthy diet.