Veggie anatomy 101: carrots
Have trouble seeing in dim lighting? Suffering from swings in blood sugar? Can't seem to kick the chronic cold?
One solution to these issues is commonly seen in the local supermarket, yet constantly overlooked by many of us. Carrots—these strange, colorful roots are nutritional powerhouses, providing 113% of our daily value of vitamin A, 20% of biotin, and 10% of vitamin C.
Remember when mom used to insist on eating your carrots to help you see better? Well, further research as proven this to be true, though at first, this suggestion started as a myth! The British Air Force started using radar scanners during WWII, but didn’t want the enemy to know. They created what was a comedic myth that they simply ate lots of carrots and had great eye sight, giving them the ability to see the enemy forces coming from a distance.
We now know that carrots, in fact, do increase the eyes' ability to see in low light. This is accomplished by a substance called beta-carotene, which carrots are loaded with. When ingested into the body, the liver converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is utilized within the retina. The human eyes contain several photopigments that are designed to store vitamin A, and one of these, known as rhodopsin, allows them to detect very small amounts of light. Along with improving eye sight, vitamin A improves the functions of the immune system, inflammatory system, bone development, and creation of red blood cells.
Carrots are also full of Biotin, or B7 which possesses numerous benefits to the body. Often marketed as a vitamin to improve “hair, skin and nails,” biotin carries even more potential than that. Biotin is a catalyst for controlling metabolic reactions in the body that help to extract energy from macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates). These reactions are critical for the body to function to its fullest potential and to help carry you through the day. This process also aids in maintaining balanced levels of blood sugar. People who currently suffer from diabetes, or those at risk of developing diabetes, will benefit from adding more biotin to their diets.
The weather is changing and people are more susceptible to catching the dreaded C-word, the cold. Fortunately, a way to combat the cold is with another C, vitamin C, and carrots are full of it. Vitamin C is best known as an antioxidant, which is why you can often find it in various supplements and powders in your supermarket, claiming to fight your sore throat and stuffy nose. A simpler solution could be to just change up what’s on your plate. In fact, many studies have shown that mega-dosing vitamin C during the onset of a cold actually does little to cut down the sick days, but eating more foods containing vitamin C regularly, may help reduce the frequency of catching colds in the first place.