5 Reasons Why You Should Be Eating More Carrots, According to RDs

These orange beauties are chock-full of healthy benefits.

Do you have a bag of carrots sitting in the crisper drawer right now, bought with the best of intentions but long-forgotten? It's time to dig out these vibrant and nutritious root vegetables, because they're one of the most powerful tools in your fridge to help you maintain optimal health. Less expensive and easier to come by than many so-called "superfoods," carrots offer a wide range of health benefits, last for weeks in the fridge, and are easy to include in meals and snacks for all ages.

While carrots are safe for pretty much everyone to eat, be warned that if you eat a ton, it's true that you might see some visible effects. "The high intake of beta carotene in carrots can turn the skin an orange-yellow color (a condition called "carotenemia")," says Charlotte Martin, M.S., RDN, author of The Plant Forward Solution. This is not dangerous to your health, however, and your skin will return to its normal color once you reduce the amount of beta carotene you're consuming.

Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., CDN, founder of Real Nutrition, recommends buying organic carrots whenever possible, as carrots have the ability to absorb high amounts of pesticides from soil. If you're buying non-organic, wash your carrots well.

The Biggest Health Benefits of Carrots

Carrots promote eye health.

The root veggies are full of a host of vitamins and minerals that play important roles in optimal functioning of many of our organs. Perhaps most famously, carrots are rich in beta carotene (the compound that gives carrots their signature, vivid orange hue), which gets converted to Vitamin A in our bodies.

"Vitamin A is probably most well-known for its important role in supporting eye health and good vision, and adequate intake of it is essential in reducing the risk of macular degeneration," Martin says. A half-cup serving of raw, chopped carrots provides more than half of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A for adults.

Carrots help skin stay healthy.

In addition to its role in our vision, Vitamin A is also essential in protecting healthy skin. Martin cites a recent study that found that people who consumed more vitamin A and carotenoids had a reduced risk of skin cancer. "Regular intake of carrots, which are one of the best sources of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid beta-carotene, can help ensure adequate vitamin A supply in the body," she says.

Carrots are great for your gut.

Carrots have 2 grams of fiber per half-cup serving, and that's a mix of soluble fiber (in the form of pectin) and insoluble fiber. Shapiro explains that soluble fiber can slow down how quickly our stomachs empty, which increases feelings of fullness after meals. Insoluble fiber is what's responsible for helping us prevent constipation by adding bulk to our stool. Taken together, carrots are powerful tools for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Carrots are heart-healthy.

Shapiro explains that in addition to eye health, carrots are also high in potassium, which is important for cardiovascular health. "Carrots are rich in disease-fighting phytonutrients with antioxidant properties, like carotenoids and polyphenols," says Martin. Taken in combination with their fiber content, which is beneficial for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, carrots have the potential to provide protection against heart disease and its risk factors, such as high cholesterol.

Carrots are glucose-friendly.

Carrots have a minimal impact on blood sugar, says Shapiro, making them a good snack for both diabetics and anyone hoping to avoid blood sugar spikes. Steady blood sugar levels help you avoid that constant crash-and-snack cycle, which can impact weight, energy levels, and mood.

The Best Ways to Eat Carrots

Adults should be eating two to three cups of veggies per day, and including carrots in that mix is the best way to start reaping all of the benefits above. Both Shapiro and Martin recommend eating carrots dipped in hummus, guacamole, or cottage cheese for a healthy snack. Roasting carrots in the oven with olive oil and salt (or with a little honey or maple syrup for a special side dish) is another great option.

"Cooking carrots increases the amount of beta-carotene your body is able to absorb," Martin says. Struggling with picky eaters? Shapiro recommends mincing carrots and adding them to baked goods for a barely perceptible nutritional boost. You could also pickle or shave your carrots and add them to a salad, or throw them into a stew and let the slow-cooking process bring out their natural flavors. For even more inspiration, check out a few of our favorite carrot-centered recipes below.

campari-glazed-carrots-1219foo
Greg DuPree

Campari-Glazed Carrots

Carrots so often feel like an afterthought at dinner, but this recipe proves that there is a possibility of something new. Serve them for an easy dinner party side or just to mix things up on a weeknight.

Garlicky, cumin-spiced oil enhances the flavor in this recipe for Spiced Carrot Salad.
Greg DuPree

Spiced Carrot Salad

Shredded carrots get tossed with a warm oil infused with garlic, cumin, and a bit of spice from crushed red pepper. Get the recipe.

Roasted Carrots With Whipped Ricotta, Farro, and Crispy Cabbage
Here's the deal with crispy cabbage: once you make it, you'll want to sprinkle it onto soups, stuff it into sandwiches, and pile it onto a platter of roasted veggies and grains, like we did here. The vibrant purple hue, alongside the green pistachios and multi-colored carrots, makes this a real stunner. Get the Recipe:Roasted Carrots With Whipped Ricotta, Farro, and Crispy Cabbage. Victor Protasio

Roasted Carrots With Whipped Ricotta, Farro, and Crispy Cabbage

Hearty grains and multi-colored veggies are piled generously onto a swoosh of whipped ricotta—what's not to love?

carrot-soup-recipe-1119din
Caitlin Bensel

Carrot Soup With Candied Almonds

You'll turn two pounds of carrots into a simple, silky soup topped with a goat cheese-smeared toast and a rosemary-spiced candied almond mixture. It's a celebration-worthy vegetarian recipe that'll please all palates. Get the recipe.

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies
Caitlin Bensel

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

This recipe packs the comforting flavors of carrot cake in a healthy cookie to start your day. Wholesome, fiber-rich ingredients mitigate the release of added sugar into your bloodstream, including rolled oats, almond flour, walnuts, and a shower of shredded carrots. Get the recipe.

Shaved Rainbow Carrot Salad With Pomegranates and Pistachios
Though it may look complicated, no fancy gadgets are needed to create these gorgeous multicolored carrot ribbons. In fact, shaving carrots is simple: after you peel the top layer of skin off the carrot, keep peeling the fresh strands into a bowl. The vinaigrette brings the dish together, and the pomegranate molasses in the dressing complements the bright, juicy pomegranate seeds in the salad. A handful of salted pistachios keeps the salad from tasting too sweet. Pomegranate molasses is worth seeking out (it basically never goes bad, so you’ll have it forever), but feel free to substitute honey. Serve the salad with lamb, chicken, or pork. Get the recipe:Shaved Rainbow Carrot Salad With Pomegranates and Pistachios. Greg DuPree

Shaved Rainbow Carrot Salad With Pomegranates and Pistachios

The sweetness from the raw carrots pairs well with the slightly tart pomegranate molasses and the subtle heat from the crushed red pepper. The beauty of rainbow carrots is captured perfectly in a shaved salad, and little sparkly red pomegranate seeds adorn it like jewels.

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