Food Spotlight: Carrot
The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange or white, or red-white blend in color, with a crisp texture when fresh.
It usually grows in temperate Europe, North Africa and West Asia. The plant most likely originated in Persia and was, interestingly, originally cultivated for seeds and leaves. The most commonly eaten part of the plant is the taproot, although the stems and leaves are also eaten.
Carrot’s healthy attributes
The carrot is called the poor man’s ginseng as it contains more than 490 phytochemicals (plant- or fruit-derived chemical compounds). Below we list the most important ones.
Beta-carotene is one of the most antioxidants in the carrot, and helps the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells in the body. It also prevents DNA variation and fat oxidation, and protects cells against free radicals. There is some evidence that beta-carotene in combination with selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E might lower high-density lipoprotein 2 (HDL2) cholesterol levels.
Glutathione (GSH), another natural antioxidant, may also be important in blood pressure and glucose homeostasis, consistent with the involvement of free radicals in both essential hypertension and diabetes mellitus. In humans, Glutathione is found in all tissues and protects against potential damage from wastes and toxins, and it may be effective in preventing accelerated ageing. Ineffective liver detoxification can lead to the production of excessive free radicals and tissue damage.
Glutathione improves liver detoxification by binding to toxins and neutralising their harmful effects. Glutathione may be helpful in the treatment of liver disease, along with many toxic and infectious conditions.
The carrot contains calcium, potassium, vitamin B and C.
Calcium helps vasoconstriction (the narrowing of the blood vessels resulting from contracting of the muscular wall of the vessels). Potassium promotes regular heartbeat. Vitamin B improves metabolism. Vitamin C protects cells against free radicals and strengthens blood vessel walls.
Besides, vitamin A in carrot is important in vision; a deficiency in vitamin A will inhibit the reformation of rhodopsin and lead to night blindness. It also improves coughing and high blood pressure. Enough sun exposure everyday helps vitamin A take effect.