The health benefits of carrots

Honey glazed baby carrots make for healthy snacks. Net photo

Depending on one’s preferences, carrots can be eaten raw, fried, boiled, steamed or mixed with other foods; and at the same time used in a salad, pudding, soup or juice.

Putting aside the abundant health benefits of carrots, nutritionists say it can be used as medicine to treat conditions such as constipation, diarrhoea, and vitamin A and C deficiency, among others.

For these reasons, they say it’s healthy important for one to include carrots in their diet.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Joseph Uwiragiye, a nutritionist at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) says this amazing type of the root contains a chemical called beta-carotene which acts as an antioxidant.

They also contain dietary fibre, which help improve stomach and intestine conditions including diarrhoea.

Those suffering from Vitamin A deficiency, he says, can use carrots as a solution. He explains that this is because carrots contain Vitamin A antioxidants and other nutrients.

Numerous studies indicate that eating more antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, helps reduce the risk of some cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

It’s showed that consuming carrots improves the growth rate in children.

Uwiyagire says for pregnant women, carrots boost Vitamin A levels for those who suffer a deficiency.

Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist/dietician at Amazon Cabinet Clinic in Kigali says carrots help prevent vision loss.

He explains that the presence of Vitamin A in carrots helps fight loss of sight.

He adds that Vitamin A deficiency can lead to a progressive eye disease which can damage normal vision, leading to night blindness or inability to see in the dark.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), lack of Vitamin A is one of the main preventable causes of blindness in children.

Uwiragiye says that when carrots are consumed on a daily basis, they help boost the immune system and prevent diseases. He says this is because of the presence of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant.

“This is important for children below the age of five; they need carrots to help boost their immune system which is normally low,” he says.

OTHER BENEFITS

Kamanzi explains that the antioxidant beta found in carrots gives them their orange colour.

He also says that those diagnosed with diabetes should make carrots part of their daily diet.

“Carrots contain photochemical and antioxidants which help regulate blood sugar. Around a quarter of the carbohydrate in carrots is sugar, but the amount of carbohydrates in them is low, therefore, best option for diabetic patients,” he says.

Among the benefits, he says, carrots help in reducing cholesterol in the body, hence reducing risks of heart disease and signs of premature ageing.

For oral health, Kamanzi says not only are the organic products present in carrots good for mineral antioxidants, but they also stimulate gums and induce excess saliva.

“Saliva is alkaline in nature and helps fight bacteria and foreign bodies that are capable of causing cavities and other oral problems,” he says.

In addition to this, he says, carrots have the ability to improve the health of one’s skin, they cleanse the body and boost oral health in general.

For elderly people, Kamanzi says eating carrots is crucial. He says because of their age, they are prone to macular degeneration.

In dry macular degeneration, the centre of the retina deteriorates. With wet macular degeneration, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina.

Kamanzi says consuming great amounts of beta-carotene found in carrots offers a significantly lower risk of macular degeneration.

WHY CONTROL IS IMPORTANT

Uwiragiye says everything should be taken or eaten in moderation, when taken in excess, it can result in complications.

For instance, he says, it can result in Hypervitaminosis A, which refers to the toxic effects of ingesting too much preformed Vitamin A. Symptoms arise as a result of altered bone metabolism and altered metabolism of other fat-soluble vitamins.

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