We were all told as children that carrots would give us super-power night vision, and whilst this may have been a slight exaggeration it isn’t completely untrue. Carrots are high in a type of carotenoid called beta-carotene, which is used by the body to produce the special pigment in our eyes that allows us to see in low-light conditions. Just one cup of chopped carrot can provide more than 400 per cent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A!
The consumption of carotenoids such as beta-carotene has been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and bowel cancer. It is also protective against the most common cause of vision loss – age-related macular degeneration
Other antioxidants found in carrots include:
- Alpha-carotene – a weaker version of beta-carotene
- Lycopene – associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer
- Lutein – in dark coloured/purple carrots
How to make the most of carrots
In order to reap the most benefit from carrots you should cook them. This can increase the availability of the carotenoids to your body as much as ten per cent. Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is best absorbed by the body when eaten with fat. This doesn’t require a lot – just three to five grams of fat in the meal should be enough to ensure proper absorption.
One cup of chopped carrot provides (% RDA):
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