All our lives we've been told to eat our carrots, they help improve your eyesight. Maybe you've wondered, what exactly is it about the carrot that is good for my eyes? That would be the beta-carotene. In addition to giving the carrot its name and orange color, it also converts to vitamin A in the body which helps improve vision. The vitamin A forms a purple pigment called rhodopsin the eye needs to see in dim light. Rhodopsin production is spurred by vitamin A, raising the effectiveness of the light-sensitive area of the retina. Not getting enough vitamin A can actually lead to night blindness. Wow, mom was right!
But that's not all that carrots can do for you. The beta-carotene in carrots is an anti-oxidant combating the free radicals that contribute to conditions like cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration. Medical studies conducted in Texas and Chicago indicate that men with the high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C had a 37% lower risk of cancer than the men with lower levels. Carrots also contain another anti-oxidant called alpha-carotene. Another study concluded that men who consume high amounts of alpha carotene have a lower incidence of lung cancer.
Cooking carrots actually raises the nutritional benefits. The fiber in carrots can trap the beta carotene, making it difficult for your body to extract. By cooking them slightly, you free the beta-carotene, from the fiber, which allows your body to absorb it better. Eating only a half-cup serving per day will give you more than the recommended dosage of beta-carotene. Also when you buy carrots raw at the store, you must cut off the leafy tops before storing, or they will suck out all the vitamins. The best way to consume your daily dose is to add carrot to your favorite juice blends. This actually breaks apart the fibers allowing the beta-carotene direct access to absorption. So be sure to eat your carrots every day!