Life Style

To Get the Most Anti-Inflammatory Benefits From Carrots, Pair Them With Peanut Butter (Says a Dietitian)

Carrots are kind of like the socks of the vegetable world. (Bear with me here for a second.) They’re basic and a little dull at first glance, sure. But just as socks serve as an important supportive foundation to any outfit, carrots can act as a foundational support to any nutritious meal. While you might take this crunchy root vegetable for granted when it shows up in your life, whether that’s nestled on a crudité platter or next to a plate of Buffalo wings, you shouldn’t, because carrot benefits for your health are actually pretty impressive....CONTINUE.THE.FULL.READING OF THE ARTICLE>>>

“Carrots are also packed with essential nutrients, including beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants,” says Lauren Manaker, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, South Carolina. They’re also incredibly versatile, working well as a textural addition to salads and sandwiches, a cooked side dish, or even just a vehicle for ranch dressing.

Ready to crunch into these impressive carrot benefits and so much more? Here’s what’s up, doc.

Nutritional value of carrots

Many carrot benefits are derived from their impressive nutritional profile. According to the USDA, one cup of chopped carrot (about 128 grams) contains the following:

  • Calories: 52.5
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Protein: 1.19 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 12.3 grams
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams
  • Sugar: 6.07 grams

Top health benefits of carrots 

1. Carrots can support vision health

According to Manaker, one of the most compelling carrot benefits is their ability to support eye health. “Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A,” Manaker says. “This nutrient is essential for maintaining good eyesight, particularly in low-light conditions.” Your body also uses vitamin A to support your immune system and keep your heart and lungs working as they should.

According to scientific studies, not getting enough vitamin A can potentially lead to poor vision—especially at night1. That said, the idea that eating boatloads of carrots will improve eyesight to superpower levels is still a reach. But, keeping an eye (pun intended) on your vitamin A—and carrot—intake certainly can’t hurt.

2. Carrots have anti-inflammatory properties

Manaker says carrots contain bioactive chemicals—like polyacetylenes—that may provide a protective effect against various forms of inflammation, which is a key cause of chronic illness including cancer. A large 2023 study in the journal Nutrients on over 55,000 people found that consistent consumption of raw carrots could help protect against cancer of the lungs and large intestine2.

To be super clear, carrots are not a magic bullet for preventing chronic illness, nor can they cure it. But eating them as part of a nutritious diet (coupled with other health-promoting habits, like not smoking and exercising regularly) may help you reduce your risk of developing certain cancers and other long-term health problems.

3. They’re good for your heart

Carrots can boost your heart health in two ways at once. “The fiber in carrots can help lower blood cholesterol levels3, while the potassium content helps control blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease,” Manaker says. One cup of carrots has about 3.5 grams of fiber and 320 milligrams of potassium.

It should be noted that on the fiber count, 3.5 grams is only a drop in the bucket for your daily optimal intake. Manaker notes that the daily fiber goal for women is around 21 to 35 grams of fiber per day; 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day for men. But including carrots in your daily rotation of high-fiber foods is a great way to help you meet that goal.

Meanwhile, the American Heart Association recommends that adults between the ages of 19 and 50 consume roughly 2,600 milligrams of potassium per day for women and 3,400 milligrams for men for optimal heart health. As such, it’s important to eat carrots along with other nutrient-dense foods for an overall, well-balanced diet.

4. They can help boost immunity

“Vitamin A, vitamin C, and other antioxidants in carrots are crucial for bolstering the immune system, helping the body to fight off infections,” Manaker says. Although a cup of raw, chopped carrots has a little less than six milligrams of vitamin C per cup (you want to aim to get about 65 to 90 milligrams per day), it’s still a nice drop in the nutritional bucket you need to keep your immune system on point. Meanwhile, the same serving size contains 835 micrograms of vitamin A, which satisfies the recommended daily intake of the nutrient for most folks.

5. Carrots are good for skin health

“The antioxidants and vitamin A in carrots not only protect the skin from sun damage but also contribute to skin repair and maintenance,” Manaker says. Aside from boosting immunity, vitamin A has been shown to help with the maturation of new skin cells4 and can help make your skin glow. (There’s a reason why retinoids, a type of vitamin A, have been used in skin-care products for decades.)

Is it good to eat carrots every day?

Manaker says it’s totally fine to eat carrots every day, especially if you like them. However, they shouldn’t be your only source of nutrition by any means. “I typically encourage people to eat a wide variety of vegetables every day to help the body reap the health benefits of various veggies,” she says. “But, if a person has a limited list of vegetables that they like, I wouldn’t discourage them from eating carrots every day. Carrots can be a part of a balanced and healthy diet too.” Generally speaking, five servings of fruits and veggies per day is the goal.

Raw carrots vs. cooked carrots: what to know about nutritional differences 

Yes, raw carrots are good for you, but there are some nutritional tradeoffs between eating carrots raw or cooked. While both versions are nutritious (and delicious!), “raw carrots are less soluble, helping to promote a healthy digestive system,” Manaker says.

“However, cooking carrots increases the bioavailability of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, which is essential for vision, immune function, and skin health,” Manaker adds. “Cooking methods like steaming or roasting can make it easier for our bodies to absorb this vital nutrient.”

Most people trying to get carrot benefits don’t need to worry too much about choosing raw or cooked carrots. Just eat both, Manaker suggests. “Including both raw and cooked carrots in your diet can provide a well-rounded spectrum of their health benefits,” Manaker says. (Plus, you’ll get some nice flavor and textural variety,)

That said, raw carrots aren’t for everyone. “Certain individuals may need to be cautious about consuming them raw,” Manaker says. This includes people with a history of food allergies, as she notes that raw carrots can trigger allergic reactions in some cases. “Additionally, those with digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, might experience discomfort due to the high fiber content in raw carrots,” Manaker says.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be totally alarmed if your skin takes on an orange hue when consuming tons of carrots. “Overconsumption of carrots can lead to a condition called carotenemia, where the skin takes on a yellow-orange tint,” Manaker says. The good news? According to her, it’s harmless and reversible. That said, as with all foods, the dietitian stresses the importance of consuming carrots—and all foods—in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Do carrots have a lot of sugar?

So, no—that smells like diet culture. Manaker says carrots don’t actually have a high sugar content, which makes them a healthy choice for most diets. “They have a natural sweetness, but are mostly made up of water and fiber. In fact, a medium carrot contains only about two to five grams of sugar,” she says. In that carrot, you’ll also get all of those important nutrients discussed earlier, including beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants—all of which contribute to the many health benefits of eating carrots.

“While [carrots] can affect blood sugar levels due to their carbohydrate content, their low-to-medium glycemic index means that they have a more gradual impact than high-sugar snacks,” adds Manaker.

Delicious, RD-approved ways to eat carrots—and carrot recipes, of course

Of course, there’s no end to the tons of delicious, healthy ways you can consume carrots. A few personal favorites:

…To name a few. You can also just eat them raw: Storing carrots in water after you peel and cut them is a great way to keep them fresh for snacking.

“Dietary fat is required for intestinal absorption of beta-carotene. Because peanuts are a natural source of healthy fats, eating them alongside carrots—PB&C sammie-style—will help your body reap more of the anti-inflammatory benefits of this carotenoid and its vitamin A.”
—Lauren Manaker, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT

However, Manaker’s favorite way to eat carrots is a bit less common: She loves herself a peanut butter and carrot sandwich. “When I turned 40, my mom took me on a trip to Miraval in Tucson, Arizona. Every morning, they served a peanut butter spread made with carrots, and it was a delicious way to include the veggie into my morning routine,” she recalls. “Since then, I have made it at home—it’s slightly sweet and easy to make.”

So, why is it the perfect pairing? “The beauty of this combo is that the carrots offer some natural sweetness with no added sugars, along with a boost of micronutrients,” Manaker says. The peanut butter also ensures that your body gets the most nutritional value from those carrots, she adds. “Dietary fat is required for intestinal absorption of beta-carotene. Because peanuts are a natural source of healthy fats, eating them alongside carrots—PB&C sammie-style—will help your body reap more of the anti-inflammatory benefits of this carotenoid and its vitamin A,” she says.

To make it at home, Manaker says she peels carrots, then steams them until soft. Then she adds the carrots and some natural peanut butter in a food processor and blends until smooth. Spread over your favorite kind of toast, or use for dipping other fruits and vegetables.  (For step-by-step instructions, check out the resort’s exact recipe on its blog.)

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Tiara Clephin

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