It’s that time of the year when fresh carrots are on everyone’s grocery list - not only for the purpose of making warm and delicious gajar ka halwa but also because this superfood has several health benefits to impart. One of the best benefits is that this orange-coloured root vegetable is found to promote heart health by reducing bad cholesterol levels in the body, thanks to the presence of a nutrient, beta-carotene.
To confirm this, two studies were conducted by J. Amengual and his colleagues. The first, published in the Journal of Nutrition, confirmed that people who consume more beta-carotene have lower levels of blood cholesterol. This is because of a critical step wherein beta-carotene gets converted into vitamin A with the help of an enzyme called beta-carotene oxygenase 1 (BCO1). People who have less active BCO1 may need other sources of vitamin A.
After analyzing more than 700 DNA and blood samples from human participants, the researchers found that people with a genetic variant of more active BCO1 have lower levels of blood cholesterol. The scientists concluded that less activity of BCO1 to produce vitamin A from beta-carotene increases the cholesterol in the body, resulting in a higher risk of developing heart diseases.
Subsequently, another study was conducted in mice where it was found that the liver is responsible for producing bad cholesterol (lipoproteins) in the blood. They observed that more vitamin A in the body reduces the secretion of cholesterol in the body. They also found a relationship between the BCO1 enzyme and cholesterol. So, this study says that more beta-carotene in the blood may be beneficial to health. However, it is also a sign of a less active BCO1 enzyme that cannot adequately convert dietary beta-carotene into vitamin A.
From the above studies, it is clear that carrots promote heart health and reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the body. Some of the other benefits of carrots are as follows:
1. Aid in weight loss
Carrots are a low calorie and fibre-rich food. Pectin, the main fibre present in carrots, is a soluble form of fibre that keeps you feeling full for a long time and prevents binge eating and helps in weight loss. Adding the fibrous carrot to your meal helps to satiate sooner and makes you eat less.
2. Promote eye health
Carrots contain vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Vitamin A or vitamin A-rich food items help prevent night blindness and age-related eyesight degeneration. The antioxidants also help repair cellular damage and prevent further damage. Carrots also help in improving overall eye health.
3. Reduce risk of cancer
Carrots are packed with carotenoids. These carotenoids are the antioxidants that fight to eradicate the harmful free radicals in your body which are responsible for causing cancer.
4. Boost immunity
Carrots are full of vitamins and minerals. They are vitamin A, K1, B6, biotin, potassium, and other minerals. They are very important for the growth and development of the body as they promote bone health and the immune system. Potassium helps maintain blood pressure.
5. Help control blood sugar
Carrots have a low glycaemic index and so, cause a very minimum rise in blood sugar as compared to many other foods. Therefore, it is considered to be good for people with diabetes.
For more information, read our article on Carrots.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.