Wait, Are Carrots Actually Good for Your Eye Health?


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Carrots are one of the most versatile foods that Mother Nature has to offer. From stews to salads, roasts to juices, this bright-hued veggie can be part of nearly any meal. The best part about them, though, is that carrots are high in nutrients that support your health from head to toe — and they can taste great.

Read on for all the carrot nutritional information you need to know and helpful tips for buying and preparing this root vegetable.

Carrot nutrition facts

Serving size: 1 large carrot (7.25 to 8.5 inches long)

    • 30 calories
    • 7g carbohydrates
    • <1g protein
    • <1g total fat
    • 0g saturated fat
    • 2g fiber (7.1% Daily Value)
    • 3g sugar
    • 50 mg sodium
    • 230mg potassium 4.9% DV)
    • 9mg magnesium (2.1% DV)
    • 4mg vitamin C (4.4% DV)
    • 14 µg folate (3.5% DV)
    • 601 µg vitamin A, RAE (66.8% DV)
    • .48 mg vitamin E (2% DV)
    • 9.5 µg vitamin K (12% DV)

With just 30 calories and less than one gram each of fat and protein per carrot, the veggie is mainly made of water and carbohydrates. “While they do contain simple sugars, they also contain starch, a good amount of fiber, and plenty of phytonutrients,” says Lauren O’Connor, M.S., R.D.N., a gut-health specialist and owner of Nutri Savvy Health. “They are rich in antioxidants and contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C and K, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. What really stands out about carrots is its vitamin A content — important for eye-health, immunity, growth and reproductive health.”

Health benefits

They’re not just a low-calorie snack. Making carrots a part of your diet can:

  • Keep eyesight sharp: Vitamin A protects ocular health. “A carrot’s natural orange hue is a sign of its plentiful beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A,” says O’Connor. It’s also a source of other eye-healthy carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Promote digestion: The fiber fills you up and contributes to good digestion and absorption. “In addition to fighting free radicals and their role in eye health, carotenoids may have a prebiotic effect and contribute to a healthy gut barrier,” notes O’Connor.
  • Protect teeth: “On a structural level, chewing raw carrots may help break down food debris and plaque, which contribute to dental carries,” says O’Connor. “Think of those carrots as a natural toothbrush. Carrots also contain certain bone-building minerals, namely calcium and phosphorus, which may help with the strength and integrity of your teeth.” Plus, the vitamin A in carrots is important for the formation of keratin — a key protein in tooth enamel.
  • Control blood sugar: ”Carrots are a non-starchy vegetable, a good source of fiber, and have a low glycemic value,” says O’Connor. “These are properties that make them helpful for managing blood sugar levels.” You can enhance this benefit by pairing carrots with foods that are high in protein (such as hard-boiled eggs or a hearty black bean dip). “Both protein and soluble fiber can slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream – preventing blood sugar spikes,” explains O’Connor.

Adverse effects and allergies

Fortunately, carrot allergies are rare. That said, “some people with pollen allergies may experience tingling of the lips, irritation in the mouth or throat and other oral allergy symptoms when eating raw carrots,” says O’Connor. (Cooking carrots changes the proteins so that they shouldn’t cause these reactions.) Raw carrots can also cause difficulties for people with digestive issues like IBS, Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and gastroparesis, according to O’Connor. “Raw veggies are harder to digest and may worsen symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea,” she says. But again, cooking is the solution here: It makes the carrots softer and easier for the body to break down.

fresh organic yellow and purple carrots

LindasPhotography//Getty Images

Varieties

They’re all nutritious choices, but their nutrient composition will differ slightly. Recent studies suggest that the flavonoids in black or purple carrots have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Plus, some research suggests the polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids in black carrots may play a role in lowering your risk of chronic disease. Interestingly, data shows that red carrots also contain large amounts of lycopene, a nutrient linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers.


Food prep FAQ

Can you eat carrots every day?

Generally speaking, it’s safe (and a good idea!) to eat as many carrots as you’d like. Yes, there are rare cases where people have consumed so much beta carotene (from foods like carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, oranges and pumpkins) that their skin developed an orange hue (a condition called carotenemia). However, you would need to eat at least 10 carrots every day for a few weeks for that to happen, according to Cleveland Clinic. (Plus, since carrots contain so much water and fiber, you would very likely feel too full to eat that many!) If you’re worried that carrots will cause weight gain, you can rest assured knowing they won’t. While any food can lead to excess pounds if you eat it in excess, it’s pretty difficult to overdo it on produce — carrots included!

What should you look for when buying carrots?

While pre-shredded and baby carrots are nutritious, convenient options, your best bet is to buy whole carrots. “You’ll get better overall flavor if you chop or shred it yourself,” says O’Connor. “For the best intensity of flavor, choose a bunch with their green tops attached — this indicates freshness and the fresher, the more flavorful. If you are looking for sweeter, go with a smaller variety. Check to make sure your carrots aren’t cracked, split, and that they don’t show any signs of dryness.” When you get home, O’Connor recommends placing your carrots in an unsealed bag or wrapped in a damp paper towel and then storing them in the crisper drawer of your fridge. “They should last up to two weeks,” she says.

Should I peel carrots?

The peels contain about half of the antioxidants (known as phenolic compounds) in carrots, so you should try washing them thoroughly instead of peeling. However, if you’re shredding carrots to eat later, removing the outer layer may help maintain color and increase shelf life.

How should you cook carrots?

One of the best things about carrots is their versatility. They’re especially tasty when roasted, cooked in a stew or even sautéed in a stir fry. Boiling carrots may reduce their nutritional content, but freezing them will maintain most of it. You can also enjoy them raw, shredded in salads, or in smoothies.

Headshot of Kaitlyn Phoenix

Senior Editor

Kaitlyn Phoenix is a senior editor in the Hearst Health Newsroom, where she reports, writes and edits research-backed health content for Good Housekeeping, Prevention and Woman’s Day. She has more than 10 years of experience talking to top medical professionals and poring over studies to figure out the science of how our bodies work. Beyond that, Kaitlyn turns what she learns into engaging and easy-to-read stories about medical conditions, nutrition, exercise, sleep and mental health. She also holds a B.S. in magazine journalism from Syracuse University.

Headshot of Stefani Sassos, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.O., C.D.N., NASM-CPT

Nutrition Lab Director

Stefani (she/her) is a registered dietitian, a NASM-certified personal trainer and the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab, where she handles all nutrition-related content, testing and evaluation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU. She is also Good Housekeeping’s on-staff fitness and exercise expert. Stefani is dedicated to providing readers with evidence-based content to encourage informed food choices and healthy living. She is an avid CrossFitter and a passionate home cook who loves spending time with her big fit Greek family.

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