Carrot is reputed to be the second most popular root vegetable in the world after potato. The root vegetable, believed to have originated in Central Asia, is widely cultivated in Nigeria and many other countries across the world.
Carrot, whose botanical name is Daucus Carota, is usually orange in colour but the purple, white, yellow, and red varieties also exist in many parts of the world. However, the orange variety is the one mostly cultivated in Nigeria.
Carrot is naturally crunchy and delicious but beyond these are the health benefits it confers on consumers. Studies have shown that carrot promotes healthy eyes, lowers cholesterol level in the body; prevents heart attacks, boosts sperm production, and reduces the risk of certain types of cancers. It also has anti-aging properties, which helps to maintain the skin and healthy growth. Apart from these, carrot is notably rich in anti-oxidants, dietary fibre and vitamins, especially Vitamin A. The fresh roots are also rich in vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that helps the body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth and gum.
The health benefits of carrot cannot be over emphasized. Adults and children need more of it to improve their vision especially at night. Studies have shown that this root vegetable also reduces the risk of lung, colon and breast cancer and helps to slow down the aging of cells. In very sunny environment such as Nigeria’s, the vitamins A and C in carrot can help to protect the skin from the scorching sun, thus promoting healthier skin.
Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, blemishes and uneven skin tone while deficiencies of the vitamin causes dryness to the skin, hair and nails. Vitamin A also assists the liver in flushing out toxins from the body. It reduces the bile and fat in the liver. The fibre present in this unique vegetable helps clean out the colon and hasten waste movement.
Regular consumption of carrot also reduces cholesterol level because the soluble fibre in carrot binds with bile acids and prevents heart disease. The power crunchy carrot cleans the teeth, gums and mouth all in the crunch! It scrapes off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste. Carrot stimulates gums and triggers a lot of saliva, which, being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria. The minerals in carrot also prevent tooth damage.
Interestingly, carrot provides a cheaper and more convenient alternative to some beauty products. As a beauty specialist, I use this root vegetable for facial mask by mixing grated carrot with a bit of honey. The result is always amazing.
In Nigeria, this is the season for carrots and they are available in virtually all the markets across the country. However, it is advisable to look out for the young, tender, bright-coloured roots with firm consistency. Try as much as possible to avoid soft, flabby roots and very large-sized roots as they can be an indication of over maturity, ensuing poor eating quality. It’s important to note that undue exposure of carrot to sunlight would result in greenish discoloration near its top end because of chlorophyll photo-pigment deposition. Though this may not have any negative health effect, it may diminish its sweet taste. Always wash them thoroughly in cold water and you can use a knife to scrape the body in order to remove the dirt before use.
So relish this crunchy root vegetable and gain all its many benefits.