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Carrots: Good For the Eyes, & More!

As kids we learned that carrots are good for our eyes, and for good reason. But carrots have health benefits beyond just eye health. Carrots are some of the most nutritious root vegetables; they are very rich in beta carotene, an antioxidant that works very well at fighting free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage tissues in the body and can lead to a number of different health problems like aging, heart disease, macular degeneration, and cancer. Science has shown us that the more antioxidants we consume in our diets, the less likely we are to get cancer, and carrots are a good way of getting some great antioxidants to help prevent cancer and other diseases linked to free radical damage. Carrots also have a particular chemical, falcarinol, that has been shown to suppress tumor growth.

The beta carotene content in carrots also helps to promote healthy lungs and cardiovascular health. In fact, one study showed that those who ate at least one carrot a day had sixty percent less risk of heart attack compared to those who did not consume carrots. It is important to note, however, that beta carotene by itself not only has no benefit, but synthetic beta carotene can actually be problematic as it acts differently in the body. Therefore, make sure to consume beta carotene from whole food sources.

As most of us know, carrots are really good for your eyes and this is due to two compounds: lutein and zeaxanthin. These two compounds work together not only to maintain good vision, but to protect the eyes from macular degeneration, cataracts, and night blindness.Carrots are also high in vitamin A, another reason they are so well known for eye health. Two regular-sized carrots contain about four times the recommended daily amount of vitamin A! Vitamin A has been indicated to help protect the eyes from macular degeneration and night blindness. In addition to vitamin A, carrots are also high in vitamin B6, C, K, potassium, calcium, thiamine, biotin, and fiber.Some experts claim that eating cooked carrots is better than eating them raw. While cooked carrots do not provide enzymes as raw carrots would, the benefit to eating cooked or lightly steamed carrots is that the nutrients in them seem to be more bioavailable when cooked. Cooked carrots are also more easily digested, which is of benefit for those with certain gastrointestinal problems. In addition, to get the most out of the nutrients found in carrots, it's best to eat them with a little bit of healthy fat. This is because vitamin A and the carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) are fat-soluble nutrients, meaning they are better absorbed by the body in the presence of good fats like those found in coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. The important thing to remember however, is whether they be raw or cooked, eat your carrots!

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