Carrots get their bright orange color from beta-carotene, an antioxidant. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and potassium. Carrots are also good sources of folate, manganese, and some B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6) which help with energy production in the body.
Beta carotene found in carrots gets converted to vitamin A as needed by the body. While beta-carotenes are antioxidants that help protect our body from damage caused by free radicals, vitamin A helps protect you from infections by keeping skin and other body parts healthy.
Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes and uneven skin tone.
Carrots help to improve our eyesight. Vitamin A helps to synthesize a purple pigment called rhodopsin which the eye needs to see in dim light. Carrots also contain alpha and beta carotenoids, xanthophyll and lutein, which help to fight macular degeneration and vision loss.
Carrots that come in a range of colors, such as purple, yellow, and red, contain a variety of antioxidants. For example, the antioxidant anthocyanin gives carrots their purple hue and lycopene gives carrots their red hue.
Cooking carrots in fat, oils or pureeing or juicing them increases the availability of carotenoids. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that are tightly encased in protein sacs that have to be broken by heat (cooking) or mechanical action (grinding, juicing, and proper chewing). Fats help the absorption of carotenoids into the blood because carotenoids are fat soluble.
½ cup of chopped carrots provides 25 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.
Carrot sticks or baby carrots make for a great snack and go well with herbed dips and hummus. Carrots can also be shredded and mixed into salads and casserole dishes.
Although carrots are a healthy vegetable, overconsumption of vitamin A can be toxic to humans. Moderate consumption of vitamin A through diet alone does not usually cause harm. Most overconsumption occurs by supplementation.