Nutritional Properties of the Carrot - World Carrot Museum

Nutritional Benefits of Carrots


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Carrots Nutrition and Good Health - Part 1 - Pigment Power

Main sections: General - Better Raw/Cooked? - Carrot used to be better  - Pigment Power

Power and goodness - Allergy - Beta-Carotene/ Vitamin A - Microwave Effect - Allergy - Disbenefits/Cautions

Factors affecting taste - Factors affecting colour - Overdose/Carotenemia - Goodness in the skin?


Nutrition Page 1 (this page) deals with pigment power, the goodness of carrots, what happens if you eat too many and carrot allergy.
Nutrition Page 2 the effect on your bodily functions, your daily needs; how carrots can help with Eye health, Cancer, heart disease, stroke & diabetes.
Nutrition Page 3 examines medicinal uses and alternative medicine associated with carrots and carrot analysis.

PLEASE NOTE: The Carrot Museum does not recommend self diagnosis or self medication. The information contained in this web site has not been verified for correctness. Some of the information contained herein is hearsay and may not be correct. Use the information from this page only at your own risk!  If in doubt consult a doctor.
Note: If you have diabetes it is recommended you read this before eating carrots.
Speak to your doctor or health-care provider about vitamin A rich carotenoids if you have diabetes or are at risk for developing the condition; Read more

(A cautionary note - The Carrot Museum cautions you to not believe all studies. Please trust your own judgment.  As a researcher I am happy to share and cite studies that appear promising, that carrots provide health giving properties.   However the body and individual metabolisms and gene make up are all different so it is difficult to be positive that any of it will work for any particular individual.  In fact it is often difficult to ensure, or decipher, whether any of the research is not financially or otherwise biased.  You can find just as many convincing studies supporting mainstream treatments, together with other evidence that there is no effect. Also many studies are based on animal tests, rather than humans.)


Quick Summary - There are good reasons to include carrots in the human diet. The Carrot plant (Daucus carota L.) is a plant that is rich in chemical compounds and has remarkable nutritional and health benefits.. These chemical compounds are distributed in every part of the plant, such as vitamins (A, B, C), alkaloids, carotenoids, flavonoids, tannins, anthraquinones, carbohydrates, saponins, diterpenes, steroids, phenolic acids, beta-carotene, phenols, coumarin, triterpenoids, essential oils, chlorogenic acid, folic acid, pantothenic acid. Also, carrots contain minerals (sodium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, sodium, magnesium, chromium) and other compounds that benefit from treating various diseases. Carrots have pharmacological activities: antioxidant, antibacterial, sedative action, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, anthelmintic, anticancer, antidepressant, anticholesterol, gastric anti-ulcer, and kidney protection activity. Carrots with the main content of beta carotene, an antioxidant, can protect from free radicals that damage body cells.

The mechanism by which these carrot compounds decrease the risk of some diseases is complex and sometimes largely unknown. The cardio- and hepatoprotective, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects of carrot seed extracts are also noteworthy.

[Sources - Silva Dias, J.C. (2014) Nutritional and Health Benefits of Carrots and Their Seed Extracts. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 5, 2147-2156.  And - Phytochemical and Pharmacological Review of Carrot (Daucus carota L.) January 2021 DOI: 10.47760/ijpsm.2021.v06i01.006]

Read about the use of carrots in ancient remedies here - Myth, Magic and Folklore.

Carrot Nutrition Analysis Chart


Simple summary sheets to download -  (PDF's) - "Why Everyone Should Eat more Carrots"  - The Health Benefits of Carrots  and The Benefits of Carrot Juice; Pesticides/Organic Debate  Read more about the tastes of carrots.

Do carrots improve eyesight? - No! - https://www.inverse.com/science/scientists-debunk-myth-about-carrots

As a general rule, the Carrot Museum does not support taking many supplements, optimal health comes from whole foods. You can't fool your body by taking handfuls of supplements while still eating a junk food diet

You CAN eat the green leaves of carrots - read more.  Microwaving retains more goodness - read more  Home recipes for face/body products - read more.  Microwave cooking improves functional properties of carrots here

Good for your eyes? - of course! It's something your mother told you time and time again at the dinner table: Eat your carrots, they'll help you see better¯ So was she right? The question is answered very clearly with the help of chemist Chad Jones, Ph.D., host of the award-winning Collapsed Wave Function podcast. Check out the video here: http://youtu.be/w3DNScZYvYY. NOTE: The consumption of carrots CANNOT improve eyesight, that is visual acuity - carrots are good for the health of your eyes.


Introduction
Let us start with a brief history of Medicine and Nutrition -

Patient "I am sick".

Physicians responses:
3500 years ago - "Here eat this root"
2500 year ago - "That root is heathen - say this prayer"
150 years ago - "That is superstition - drink this potion"
50 years ago - "That potion is snake oil - take this pill"
15 years ago - "That pill is no good, take this antibiotic"
Today - "that is not natures way - here eat this root"

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following nutrient content descriptors for carrots: Fat Free; Low Sodium; Cholesterol Free; Good source of fibre; High in Vitamin A.


It is often sadi that there is no point in people focussing on how to eat vegetables until they are eating enough of them in the first place!  - very true.


History of Plant Use in Medicine - Through observation and experimentation, ancient man determined the potential uses of the plants that surrounded them. Through trial and error, and observation of animal intake, they found plants that were agreeable or distasteful, edible or poisonous, that could heal, cure or kill. Plants with strong tastes or aromas were selected to alleviate illness and enhance food. The pre-historic discovery that certain plants have healing powers whilst others are inedible or cause harm, even death, is the origins of the healing professions and its practitioners - priest, physician and apothecary - to the sciences of medicine, botany and horticulture.

No one knows where or when plants first began to be used to treat disease. Accidental discovery of some new plant food that eased pain might have been the beginning of folk knowledge. Early evidence comes from the grave of a Neanderthal man buried 60,000 years ago; Pollen analysis indicated that plants buried with the corpse were all of medicinal value. The earliest written record is a 4,000 year old Sumerian clay tablet recording numerous plant remedies. Cuneiform tablets recovered from the library of Ashurbanipal (circa 2000 BCE) contain detailed descriptions of the preparation of numerous remedies.

These ancient records indicate that in all parts of the world native peoples discovered and developed medicinal uses of local plants. Herbal medicine of ancient Greece laid the foundations of Western medicine. Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.), the Father of Medicine used various herbal remedies in his treatments. Theophrastus is called the Father of Botany. Roman physician Dioscorides (1st century A.D.) wrote De Materia Medica which contained an account of over 600 species of plants with medicinal value.

De Materia Medica Pharmacopoeia which was universally used in the Greek, Roman and Arab worlds from the 2nd century until the 16th century. In De Materia Medica, Dioscorides listed 600 plants, 90 minerals and 30 animal products, with a drawing of each one and a note of its therapeutic properties. Illustrations from De Materia Medica are shown in the history pages and in particular a page dedicated to carrot iconography in manuscripts - here.


The Role of the Carrot in General Nutrition -

The Carrot is an economically important horticultural crop that has gained popularity since World War Two (ended 1945) due to increased awareness of its nutritional value through the need to feed a nation at a time of great shortages. Orange carrots are highly revered as good for the eyes due to their high content of hydrocarbon carotenoids, a class of phytochemicals that are often precursors to vitamin A. α- and β-Carotene predominate in orange carrots.

The storage root of the carrot is the most commonly consumed portion of the plant, although the tender young foliage is occasionally used as a stir-fried herb and in salads in China and Japan (Rubatzky and others, 1999), and other culinary methods (carrot green tops page here).  Carrot roots do not supply a significant amount of calories to the human diet (an average 6 inch carrot contains about 40 calories), but do supply nutrition in the form of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, anthocyanins, and other phenolic compounds. The greatest nutritional interest in carrots stems from their phytochemical content, but research has also focused on carrots as a source of fibre.

Carrots are nutritional heroes, they store a goldmine of nutrients. Few other vegetables or fruit contain as much carotene as carrots, which the body multi coloured carrotsconverts to vitamin A. This is a truly versatile vegetable and an excellent source of vitamins B and C as well as calcium pectate, an extraordinary pectin fibre that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties. The high level of beta-carotene is very important and gives carrots their distinctive orange colour.

The carrot is an herbaceous plant containing about 87% water, rich in mineral salts and vitamins (B,C &,E). 

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, providing 210% of the average adult's needs for the day. They also provide 6% of vitamin C needs, 2% of calcium needs and 2% of iron needs per serving.

They are also a good source of potassium, vitamins B6, copper, folic acid, thiamine and magnesium.  Carrots also contain fibre, vitamin K, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium.

Carrots also contain, in smaller amounts, essential oils, carbohydrates and nitrogenous composites. They are well-known for their sweetening, antianaemic, healing, diuretic, remineralizing and sedative properties.

In order to assimilate the greatest quantity of the nutrients present in carrots, it is important to chew them well - they are the exception to the rule - they are usually more nutritious cooked than raw. Why? Click here to find out.

Also most of the goodness is actually in, or just below the carrot peel. (Read more here) Carrots are one of the best sources of carotene which is a strong antioxidant, but carrots also contain other phenolic compounds that are antioxidants. Many people do not realize that numerous phenolic compounds are located in the skin of fruit and vegetables, many of which are removed by peeling prior to processing. (Phenolic compounds and their antioxidant properties in different tissues of carrots (Daucus carota L.)Donglin Zhang and Yasunori Hamauzu* Sciences of Functional Foods, Graduate School of Agriculture, Shinshu University, January 2004.)

Abstract: Phenolic compounds, their antioxidant properties and distribution in carrots were investigated in the above study. Carrots contained mainly hydroxycinnamic acids and derivatives. Among them chlorogenic acid was a major hydroxycinnamic acid, representing from 42.2% to 61.8% of total phenolic compounds detected in different carrot tissues. The phenolic contents in different tissues decreased in the following order: peel > phloem > xylem. Although carrot peel accounted for only 11.0% of the amount of the carrot fresh weight, it could provide 54.1% of the amount of total phenolics in 100 g fresh weight of carrots, while the phloem tissue provides 39.5% and the xylem tissue provides only 6.4%. Antioxidant and radical scavenging activities in different tissues decreased in the same order as phenolic content and correlated well with total phenolic contents. All phenolic extracts had stronger radical scavenging ability than pure chlorogenic acid, vitamin C and β-carotene. Therefore, we suggest that phenolics could play an important role in antioxidant properties in carrots and other hydroxycinnamic derivatives such as dicaffeoylquinic acids in the extracts may exert some strong antioxidant activities along with chlorogenic acid.

Carrot greens can be eaten and are high in vitamin K, which is low in the composition of the carrot root itself.  read more. The carrot health man

Scientists have given us another reason to eat carrots - Falcarinol, which a compound found in the popular root vegetable has been found to have an effect on the development of cancer. - read more   

Nutrition is the cornerstone of good health. As we go through life, there are so many illnesses that could have been prevented with better nutrition. This has been proven beyond any shadow of doubt over the past few years. Research has proven that getting the proper level of antioxidants into our bloodstream will reduce the risk of cancer. Consumption of carrots increases the level of key antioxidants in the bloodstream. See more on antioxidants here.

Vitamin supplements are not normally necessary if you have a balanced diet. Eat whole food and feel good knowing that you've got nutrition from nature's gifts going through your body every day.  Good health never came out of a bottle or capsule.

Important Note - The chemical constituents of carrot are not there by chance, but perform a function. Many constituents of the orange carrot we now cultivate are also in the white root of the wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace, from which our carrot was developed. This is true of falcarinol, falcarindiol, and myristicin. Carotene (present in small amounts in Queen Anne's lace) has been increased by centuries of selection. Volatile oils have been decreased in this process. Plant scientists must continue to monitor all known constituents nutritive and non-nutritive - as new cultivars of the carrot are developed to keep our vegetables nutritious and safe. Plant breeding for the sake of high yields, appearance, and keeping quality will not be sufficient.


The power and goodness of carrots  - Carrots have many important vitamins and minerals.

They are rich in antioxidants Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, Phytochemicals and GlutathCarrots - Nutrition Factsione, Calcium and Potassium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E, which are also considered antioxidants, protecting as well as nourishing the skin. They contain a form of calcium easily absorbed by the body. Finally they also contain Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous. and Sulphur - better than a wonder drug!!

Carrot can enhance the quality of breast milk. It can improve the appearance of the skin, hair and nails. When taken daily it can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Raw carrot contains beta-carotene, a strong antioxidant that can prevent cancer. Carrot juice when taken every day prevents bodily infections and is claimed to be valuable for the adrenal glands (the small endocrine glands situated above the kidneys). Carrot can help improve eye health. Carrot can help increase menstrual flow. Carrot can regulate blood sugar. Carrot can promote colon health, because it is rich in fibre.

Carrot is also helpful in the following cases: Obesity, poisoning of the blood, gum disease, insomnia, inflamed kidney, liver, gallbladder, Alzheimer's disease, colitis, ulcer and painful urination. Carrots are one of the richest sources of Vitamin A. Carotene present in this vegetable gets converted into Vitamin A by our body. It is indeed amazing that a mere 100grams of carrot supplies around 11,000 milligrams of vitamin A.

Other major minerals present in carrot include sulphur, phosphorous and magnesium.  The three minerals calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are essential for ensuring the strength of bones. Phosphorus is essential for the health of skin, hair and nerves. The vital magnesium content present in fresh carrot enables mental development, digestion of fats and the metabolism of mineral salts such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium. Sulphur also forms a major ingredient of insulin, the hormonal function of which is to convert carbohydrates into energy. Chlorine can be present in carrot from the processing method, this element is vital for the proper functioning of liver. provides a cleansing and antiseptic effect on the digestive and circulatory systems, but can of course be obtained from other sources.

Another nutrient in carrots which deserves mention is Vitamin E, the muscle vitamin. It promotes the efficiency of the entire muscular system by the effective utilisation of oxygen.

Read this interesting article by Dr A Tabor MD - "The Healthy Glow of Carrots", which explains why you should make carrots and other beta-carotene rich foods part of your daily eating pattern as a smart, skin-healthy choice. (pdf)

Read more about the role and power of antioxidants here. 

Find out more on the Vitamin A page.   What carrots can do for your health.

Traditional Medicinal Uses for Carrot and its seeds around the world (pdf).

Vitamin A and skin health - a website which explains the efficacy of the topical application of Beta Carotene. Here


Microwave cooking improves functional properties of carrots

Food technicians and nutritionists from the Sangmyung University in Seoul compared the physical and functional properties of carrots cooked differently within the same hardness-range. First of all, hardness was classified in three different levels based on the chewing ability of the elderly. Carrots were then cooked in three different ways - boiled, steamed and microwaved.

"All cooking methods, and microwaving in particular, led to a significant loss in colour. Antioxidant properties were assessed through the ,.1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and total polyphenol (TPC) content. Both values increased with prolonged cooking times, especially by steaming and microwaving. The highest beta-carotene content was found in microwave cooking. In addition, more calcium was eluted by cell tissue."

For all three cooking methods, cooking time was negatively correlated with hardness. More correlations between variables with microwave cooking were observed. As a consequence, the latter emerged as the most effective cooking method to soften carrots in the shortest time and with the highest functional values.

Source: Lee Seung-Woo, Kim Bum-Keun, Han Jung-Ah, 'Physical and functional properties of carrots differently cooked within the same hardness-range ', 2018, LWT-Food Science and Technology, Vol. 93, pag. 346-353


Carrots used to be better! - Vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.

A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding reliable declines in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition. (J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6):669-82. Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999. Davis DR1, Epp MD, Riordan HD.Link here)

The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal, found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent.

The key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favour of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers. Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from