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the benefits and properties of carrots

Interested in the healthy properties of carrots ? You will like to know that there are many reasons to include it regularly in your diet. Its supply of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant compounds has been linked to numerous benefits, from protecting the eyes to preventing cancer.

Here we explain everything about carrots, what it is, properties, benefits, nutritional value, what is the best way to take advantage of all its nutrients, possible contraindications, what are its types and characteristics, among other curious facts about this tuber.

What is carrot?

The carrot is one of the most used and enjoyed vegetables around the world; it grows relatively easily and is very versatile in creating numerous recipes. Due to its characteristics it is included in the group of  tubers , and although it is generally orange in color, there are also purple, white, yellow and red varieties.

The main root of the carrot, or tuberous root, is the part of the plant that is most consumed, although its leaves and stems can be used in salads and other preparations.

Characteristics and curious facts about carrots

  • So far more than 100 species of edible carrots have been classified.
  • In the 17th century, the types of edible carrots were black, white, red or purple. The orange carrots that we know today were created through selective cultivation in the Netherlands, as a tribute to the ruling house of Orange (orange in English).
  • 87% of the carrot is made up of water.
  • The longest carrot in the world measured 5,839 meters (19 feet 1 7/8 inches), while the heaviest was grown in 1998 and weighed 8.61 kg.
  • Among all the vegetables, carrots have the highest content of vitamin A (beta-carotene). 100 grams of carrots provide 104% of the recommended daily dose of this vitamin!
  • It was brought to America in 1607 by the first settlers who landed at Jamestown.
  • Wild rabbits don’t eat wild carrots.
  • The largest producer and exporter of carrots in the world is China, followed by the United States and then Russia.
  • Eating a carrot gives you the energy to walk a mile!
  • Consuming too much carrot can cause a condition called “carotenemia”, which causes a yellowish tone to the skin.

What are the benefits and properties of carrots?

The carrot is a vegetable with excellent nutritional properties. Not only is it versatile, crunchy and tasty, it also helps promote good health thanks to its arsenal of essential nutrients1.

The high content of vitamins A , K , C , B6 , potassium , manganese , calcium , phosphorus and carotenoid compounds seems to play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of various diseases. In fact, today there is evidence that the carrot was initially cultivated for its medicinal effect, not as food.

In general, properties are attributed 2:

  • Antioxidants
  • Immunostimulants
  • Satiating
  • Anti-carcinogens
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Digestive

As has been observed in different studies and research, these are its most important benefits 3:

1. Protects the health of the eyes

It regularly eat carrot is very good for the eyes thanks to the content of beta – carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are precursors of vitamin A . Vitamin A deficiency in the diet is known to cause night blindness and various age-related eye disorders, including macular degeneration and blindness.4 5.

2. It has antioxidant power

Carotenoids, abundant in carrots and other orange vegetables, are powerful antioxidants that help reduce the risk of developing common and chronic diseases . That is why this tuber is considered a good food to strengthen the immune system, fight the damage caused by free radicals, neutralize bacteria, viruses, and prevent inflammatory processes in the body.6 7.

Note: The antioxidant content is even higher in the purple carrot . Learn all about this variety in Purple Carrot – Origin, Properties, Recipes … and More .

3. Lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke

Researchers have claimed that eating bright orange vegetables , such as carrots, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing oxidative stress and improving the body’s defenses, especially in adult women8.

Likewise, it has been observed that eating carrots every day can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 68%. Several studies have talked about the “carrot effect” in the brain ; Everything seems to indicate that lutein, a carotenoid found in carrots, has been linked to better brain health9 . Some researchers believe that its consumption helps prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, by boosting memory and avoiding other types of cognitive dysfunction.

Studies in stroke patients revealed that those with the highest beta-carotene levels also had the highest survival rate.

4. Provides protection against cancer

Scientific evidence suggests that consuming high levels of carotenoids from vegetables can protect us from cancer 10 . These antioxidants appear to play an important role in the prevention of some of the most common types of cancer, such asovarian,breast,lung,colon and prostate cancer11 12.

5. It can help in the treatment of leukemia

In 2011, the Journal of Medical Food published a study suggesting that carrot extracts can prevent the formation of leukemia cells13 . The findings also indicate that this tuber is anexcellent source of bioactive chemicalsessential to treat and inhibit the progression of leukemia.14 15.

6. Improves skin health and promotes wound healing

Carrots are rich in carotenoids. Scientific findings suggest that fruits and vegetables rich in these compounds may improve the overall health and appearance of the skin. Specifically, beta-carotenes are a type of compound that is critical for promoting wound healing. This explains why carrots have been used for centuries as a natural poultice to heal wounds , burns , acne symptoms, and other skin problems.

Note : Be aware that excessive consumption of carrots, or other foods rich in carotenoids, can lead to a harmless condition called carotenemia , in which the skin turns a yellow or orange hue16.

Another surprising property of carrots is its power to provide sun protection . Antioxidants and carotenoids are able to protect and condition the skin to increase its immunity against the sun, as well as to promote the healing of sunburn17 . Drinking carrot juice in summer can serve as a natural sunscreen.

7. Assists in the prevention and control of diabetes

As reported by the World Health Organization , following a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, there is evidence that enhancing the consumption of certain foods can further decrease this risk. For example, foods rich in vitamin A , such as carrots, seem to play a very positive role in preventing the disease.18.

Likewise, it has been observed that carotenoids inversely affect insulin resistance, hence the consumption of carrots helps to better regulate blood sugar levels and is a good recommendation for diabetics19.

8. Helps lower cholesterol

Being a good source of soluble dietary fiber , this root vegetable helps lower cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to bile acids present in the gastrointestinal tract ( made up of cholesterol ) and helps to expel them as waste out of the body20.

9. Promotes weight loss

If you are trying to cut calories in your diet to lose weight, carrots can also help you. Not only does it have a low caloric intake , but it also promotes satiety and helps to better control the urge to eat between meals.

1 cup of raw carrot contains approximately 52 calories, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fat, 113 grams of water and 3.6 grams of fiber 21.

10. Helps preserve bone health

Thanks to its nutritional properties, carrots also offer protection to our bones. Nutrients such as vitamin A , beta-carotene and organic silicon intervene in the metabolism of bone cells, exert antioxidant action and are necessary for the formation of bones and connective tissue22.

11. Offers liver protection

Did you know that carrots contain glutathione , a super-molecule that helps detoxify the liver ? This and other antioxidant compounds abundant in vegetables ( flavonoids, beta-carotenes ) are known to stimulate and support liver function, especially by removing toxins and protecting your cells23.

For its part, the fiber content promotes bile secretion, helping to prevent liver and gallbladder diseases.

12. Improves hair health

Although not enough research has been done on this, it is believed that eating carrots can be beneficial for hair, as they are rich in vitamins A and C, carotenoids, potassium and other nutrients that support hair health. They may be helpful in boosting blood circulation to the scalp , fighting hair loss, accelerating hair growth, and preventing premature graying24.

13. It is good for oral health

Something as simple as eating a raw carrot regularly can do wonders for the health of your teeth. 25 . Keep it in mind from now on to promote theelimination of stains and bacterial plaque, increasesaliva production, balance the acid level in the mouth and fight the bacteria that cause halitosis and dental cavities.

14. Promotes a better mood

Yes. The carrot can also do its little bit to make you feel good. The explanation for this benefit lies, nothing more and nothing less, than its antioxidant content. Recent research has reported that consuming a diet rich in antioxidant compounds, especially beta-carotenes, vitamin E, and vitamin C, can serve as protection against depression , stress , pessimism, and anxiety26 27.

Nutritional value of carrot

Nutritional Information (Raw Carrot – 100 grams)28:

  • Calories: 41
  • Water: 88%
  • Protein: 0.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.6 g
  • Azúcar: 4.7 g
  • Fibra: 2.8 g
  • Grease: 0.2 g
    • Saturated: 0.04 g
    • Monoinsaturada: 0.01 g
    • Polyunsaturated: 0.12 g
    • Omega-3: 0 g
    • Omega-6: 0.12 g
    • Trans fat 0g


Carrots are mainly made up of water and carbohydrates, and these in turn break down into starch and sugars such as sucrose and glucose. It could be said that they have one of the lowest glycemic indexes within the group of tubers, in this case the value ranges between 16 and 60. In this range, the raw carrot has the lowest index, the cooked carrot has a medium index and puree has the highest index.


They are also a relatively good source of fiber; a medium-sized carrot (61 grams) provides 2 grams of fiber. Pectin is the main form of soluble fiber in carrots. Soluble fibers in the regular diet can lower blood glucose levels by slowing down the digestion of sugar and starch; They also serve as food for friendly bacteria in the gut.

Most of the  insoluble fiber  in carrots is in the form of cellulose, but it also contains hemicellulose and lignin. Insoluble fibers reduce the risk of constipation and promote regular, healthy bowel movements.

Vitamins and minerals

The tuberous roots of carrot are a good source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A (beta-carotene), biotin, vitamin K (phylloquinone), potassium, iron and vitamin B6.

  • Vitamin A : Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a compound that is converted into vitamin A within the body. This vitamin promotes good vision and is very important for growth, development, and immune function.
  • Biotin : plays an essential role in the metabolism of fats and proteins.
  • Vitamin K1 : is essential for proper blood clotting and promotes bone health.
  • Potassium : essential mineral for the body, especially for the control of fluids and blood pressure.
  • Vitamin B6 : it is one of the vitamins involved in the conversion of food into energy.
  • Iron : essential mineral involved in the production of hemoglobin (protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood).

Other antioxidant compounds

These are the main antioxidant compounds in carrots:

  • Beta-carotene : Orange carrots are high in beta-carotene (vitamin A).
  • Alpha carotene : antioxidant that is also partially converted into vitamin A.
  • Lutein : one of the most common antioxidants in this vegetable, predominantly in yellow and orange carrots.
  • Lycopene – A bright red antioxidant found in many red fruits and vegetables, including red and purple carrots.
  • Polyacetylenes : According to recent research, these bioactive compounds can protect against leukemia and the development of cancer cells.
  • Anthocyanins – powerful antioxidants found in dark colored carrots.

What is the best way to consume carrots, raw or cooked?

Most people assume that eating carrots raw is the best way to obtain their nutrients, however science has revealed that this is not the case. As explained,  baking  whole carrots  to steam , with intact skin , without cutting or grate , is the best way to get the most nutrients. It is important to point out that before carrying out this cooking it should be rubbed well with a brush to remove the earth and all the superficial dirt from the root.

In general, fruits and vegetables retain the most nutrients and are healthier when eaten in their natural state. However, the carrot is a particular case . Different studies have observed that, due to the cellular nature of this tuberous root, our body cannot break down its nutrients in their entirety. For example, it has been found that eating raw carrot only releases 3% of its total beta-caronene content, and that on the other hand, cooked carrot allows a higher release, up to 21%.

This does not mean that eating carrots raw is not recommended, but everything seems to indicate that cooking them offers greater benefits .

Here we leave you the most relevant findings on the subject. Keep in mind that the cooking method can also influence its nutritional value.

  • The steamed carrot tends to preserve its vitamin C content better.
  • Boiling carrots before cutting can increase their anti-cancer properties by up to 25%.
  • Cooking also increases beta carotene levels.
  • Consuming raw carrot in juice favors more assimilation of its nutritional properties, compared to carrot grated or cut into pieces.
  • The fact that the carrot skin and its nearby flesh are the same color indicates that the two parts of the vegetable have a similar nutritional value.

Once they are cooked, you can cut them the way you want.

In addition to raw (whole, grated) or steamed, there are other common methods of preparation:

  • Sauteed
  • Boiled
  • Pureed
  • In juices
  • In soups

Cream of carrots recipe:

Contraindications and side effects

Although carrot consumption is far from being a danger to our health, it is important to take into account some side effects and general contraindications. When you eat too much raw carrot on a regular basis you may experience any of the following:

  • Yellowish tone of the skin (carotemia29 ). Beta-carotenes, abundant in carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, squash and other vegetables, are antioxidant compounds that provide a high level of pigmentation. That is why its excessive consumption can cause a yellow-orange coloration in our skin (carotemia is temporary and does not affect the whites of the eyes).
  • Hypervitaminosis A (excess vitamin A). When the consumption of vitamin A exceeds the biological needs of the body, it can become toxic and cause damage to the liver, eyes and bones.30
  • Increased diuresis. Eating a lot of carrots can have a significant diuretic effect on our body.
  • Dermatitis, redness of the skin . Because this tuber contains photosensitizing substances, people who consume it daily may experience allergic symptoms when exposed to the sun; the same happens in case of touching the leaves of the plant. This disadvantage especially affects people who are photosensitive.31
  • Allergic reaction . Some people are known to be allergic to carrots, hence its consumption causes diarrhea, inflammation, itching, difficulty breathing and anaphylactic attacks.
  • Bacterial infections . Considering that carrots are tuberous roots that grow underground, they may contain soil bacteria, even when they appear clean. Its excessive consumption can increase the risk of acquiring illnesses that are transmitted by the food, being this one of the main disadvantages of the carrot juice made at home.

In general, the regular consumption of carrots is contraindicated in:

  • Photosensitive people
  • People who are taking diuretic medications
  • People who maintain a high intake of vitamin A through other foods or supplements

People with a known allergy to this plant should never eat carrot, drink its juice, or use carrot oil / extract. Its moderate consumption is not contraindicated during pregnancy or lactation, nor in cases of diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or other chronic health conditions.

Carrot images

(Click on the image to see it in full size)

Quick answers to frequently asked questions

What is the origin of the carrot?

The origin of domestic carrots has been located in the dry and warm lands of Iran and Afghanistan, since 3000 BC. From there, the carrot seeds were collected, transported and sold via caravans that roamed the nearest Arab, African and Asian lands. Each region accepted this new food and began to cross it to obtain new varieties of the famous root.

In those ancient times there were only black, white, red and purple carrots. Interestingly, the orange color of the current variety was not yet present .

The most revealing sign of how popular carrots were in ancient times comes from Ancient Egypt, where numerous carrots were used to be placed in the tombs of pharaohs and hieroglyphic paintings were made to reflect the harvest and processing of this tuber. The most popular variant cultivated by the Egyptians was the purple carrot, which was used not only as food but also as medicine.

The current orange carrot originated in the Netherlands during the 17th century as a tribute to the ruling house of Orange . During years of selective cultivation, this Dutch carrot was harvested to have no bitterness, increase sweetness, and minimize its fibrous core. These characteristics, and its role in nutrition, quickly gained popularity across Europe.

Do baby carrots have the same nutritional properties?

These small, crisp carrots, also known as baby carrots, have become a very popular snack. Many people use them as a snack during the day, or as a strategy to get children to eat more vegetables.

It is important to clarify that there are two types of carrots commonly called baby carrots . On the one hand, there are the whole carrots that are harvested when they are still small ( before the root reaches maturity ), and on the other, the cut baby carrots, which are nothing more than pieces of large carrots. Carrots are typically machine-cut, peeled, polished, and can even undergo a washing process with small amounts of bleach before packing.

Although in principle both alternatives seem to have the same amount of nutrients, and therefore, can offer the same healthy properties, the truth is that whole baby carrots are more nutritious than cut baby carrots . This is demonstrated by nutritional databases32:

Nutrients (in 100 gr)Whole Baby CarrotCarrot “Baby” Cut
Vitamin A16705 IU13790 IU
C vitamin5.9 mg2.6 mg
Vitamina K13.2 mcg9.4 mcg
Potassium320 mg237 mg

What are the types of carrots?

Types of carrots (by colors)

  • Purple carrot. The purple carrot reflects the original color of carrots grown in Afghanistan 5,000 years ago. It grows well in most climates, but prefers soil temperatures between 59 and 68 degrees; These conditions allow you to achieve a spectacular purple color on your skin. The purple variety not only has the same amount of vitamin A as regular carrots, but it is also rich in anthocyanins (antioxidants that give blueberries their distinctive color and health benefits).
  • White carrot. White carrots have no pigments and tend to have a milder flavor than orange ones. Many people confuse this white variety with parsnips or parsnips , however they are different tubers. Parsnips are usually golden brown to ivory in color, with a nutty flavor and larger than white carrots.
  • Yellow carrot. The yellow carrot variety is specifically grown to produce a sweeter flavor  while maintaining a pleasant texture; its taproot is not woody or fibrous. It has a firm, crunchy texture and a sweet-earthy flavor with notes of celery and parsley. The yellow carrot is characterized by having the highest levels of the carotenoid lutein, a pigment similar to beta-carotene that is absorbed as vitamin A in the body.
  • Orange carrot. The orange carrot, or simply carrot, was created in Holland during the 17th century. With this variety it was intended to obtain a less bitter root, sweeter, with a less fibrous nucleus than that of the wild carrot. Those new characteristics helped the type of orange carrot to become the most widely consumed variety in all of Europe and the Western world.
  • Red carrot. These carrots have an outer layer that ranges from pinkish-red to purplish-red, with a pink-orange core. They contain more lycopene and are generally sweeter than other varieties. Lycopene is a very beneficial compound that is associated with a lower risk of developing macular degeneration, heart disease, and various cancers (prostate cancer).

What varieties of carrots are there?

At present there are more than 100 varieties of carrot grouped into different types, among which are:

  • Nantes carrot. They are shorter varieties and with a blunt tip than common carrots; they are characterized by their sweetness, crunchy texture and soft core.
  • Danvers carrot. This is the variety that most people envision when talking about carrots. They are usually long, thin orange tubers that taper towards the tip. Its name comes from the place of origin: Danvers, Massachusetts.
  • Carrot Imperator. This is the variety that most commercial growers produce and that we commonly find in stores and supermarkets. They are very similar to Danvers, but they are thicker and their sugar content is higher than that of other carrots.

Otras variedades: Chantenay, Berlicum, Kuroda, Exheart, Kyoto red, Pusa asita, Lunar white, Lobbericher yellow, Mokum, Caracas, Adelaide hibrida, Atomic red, Cosmic purple, Muscade, Jaune Obtuse du Doubs, Snow white.

How is the carrot grown?

Carrots are a good late-season crop that can tolerate low temperatures. The main challenge when it comes to growing this tuber, and other root vegetables, is to have a soil that is not too heavy; otherwise the crop will yield stunted, round carrots.

Most varieties need deep and loose soils, which allow them to grow without difficulty. Make sure the soil is free of stones to avoid deformed root growth and promote nutrition; Also avoid using manure or too much fertilizer. As a favorable point, it is a fairly resistant crop to pests and diseases.

Carrots are grown from seed, which should be sown in a row, outdoors (they are best grown in full sun, but can tolerate a moderate amount of shade), 3 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost. It is recommended to allow 3-4 inches of space between them, as well as a foot of distance between each row. Seeds are slow to germinate, it can take 3 or more weeks to show signs of life. In the meantime keep the soil moist, not wet but it should not dry out either.

Depending on the variety and local growing conditions, carrots can take 2-4 months to mature. An interesting fact is that they get tastier as they get older; you can start harvesting as soon as they are big enough, or let them grow and mature to make a single harvest.

What is the carrot plant like?

The carrot (Daucus carota) is a biennial plant that grows for two to three years before dying off naturally. Its fine-textured foliage emanates from the ground from a common point on the root, similar to a fern. Each leaf arises from a thin stem and is triangular in shape, with hundreds of small leaflets; these leaves stand upright in a tufted cluster.

The most common tuberous root is orange in color, with a shape that ranges from long and tapered to more robust and rounded. In moist and loose soils, carrot roots are longer than in dense soils. Depending on the variety, the length of the mature tuber can be as short as 2 inches, or as long as 3 feet. Typically, the top of the root that is exposed to sunlight on the ground is stained green.

When left in the ground for a second growing season, the carrot plant blooms; develops a flattened group of white flowers, called the umbel. These flowers are shaped like a flat umbrella, which is ideal for bees and butterflies to perch and drink nectar.

Carrot seeds are formed after pollination, fall to the ground, and germinate in the following growing season. A curious fact is that modern varieties often do not produce seeds because their flowers may lack the male part that is needed to facilitate pollination.

Does carrot make you fat?

The carrot is included among the low calorie foods; It is an excellent alternative for those who want to lose weight, as it provides energy, vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients in an “extremely light package”. While some dishes that contain carrots can make you fat due to the presence of other ingredients, eating carrots will definitely not make you fat.

How to freeze the carrot?

If you have more carrots than you can use in the short term, consider freezing them for long-term storage .

To freeze them, you should wash them, trim them and blanch them (boil them briefly), so that you remove the remains of soil and potentially harmful bacteria before storing them in the freezer.

Can you give a dog carrot?

Yes. According to the ACK (American Kenel Club), carrot sticks are considered a healthy alternative to traditional dog treats.

Can you eat carrot raw?

Yes. Raw carrots are an excellent addition to your regular diet, however recent research shows that cooking them makes us take better advantage of their nutritional content.

Why is the carrot orange?

Just 400 years ago there were black, white, red and purple carrots, but the current orange variety did not yet exist. 

This carrot was created in Holland during the 17th century as a tribute to the ruling house of Orange (orange in English). After years of selective cultivation, the Dutch orange carrot was obtained, sweet, less bitter and with a less fibrous core.

What kind of vegetable is carrot?

The carrot is a root vegetable, that is, a tuber.

What does carrot taste like?

The taste of this tuberous root is a unique combination of sweet, fruity and bitter.

What other names does it have?

In the English language it only has the name of carrot. The scientific name of this plant is Daucus carota .