Carrot Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Carrots, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

If you like crunchy snacks, carrots are a great go-to. Don't let carrots' perceived starch or sugar content deter you. Although carrots are a root vegetable, they are not as high in carbohydrates as many other root veggies. Carrots add a pop of color and a range of beneficial nutrients to salads, soups, stews, and side dishes.

Carrot Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 medium raw carrot (61g).

  • Calories: 25
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 42mg
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 1.7g
  • Sugars: 2.9g
  • Protein: 0.6g

Carbs

A cup (128g) of chopped raw carrots has 12.3 grams of carbohydrates, with 3.6 grams from fiber and 6.1 grams coming from natural sugars. The glycemic index for boiled carrots is low, ranging from 35–43.

Fats

Carrots have minimal amounts of fat (nearly 0g for one medium carrot and just 0.3g for a cup of chopped carrot), the majority of which is polyunsaturated.

Protein

Carrots are not particularly high in protein. A cup of carrots has just 1.2 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and specifically beta carotene which is responsible for their orange color. Carrots also offer potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

Health Benefits

The positive health effects of carrots can be largely attributed to their carotenoid content (vitamin A). Carrots also provide a decent amount of fiber which offers its own host of benefits.

Supports Cardiovascular Health

Carrots contain several phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory behaviors that help reduce the risk of heart disease. The polyphenols in carrots have been shown to increase bile secretion, which decreases cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The fiber in carrots also assists in keeping cholesterol down. Furthermore, carrots contain about 9% of the 4,700mg recommended intake of potassium. Potassium is known to lower blood pressure levels.

Protects Eyesight

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Because these compounds tend to accumulate in the retina, they are particularly helpful in preventing age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss. Regular consumption of carrots and other orange vegetables is a good way to protect your eyes against the effects of aging and environmental damage.

Improves Dental Health

A study evaluating the rate of tooth-loss in an elderly Japanese population with cognitive impairment found that higher intakes of beta carotene through carrots and other vegetables such as pickled green leafy greens, raw lettuce/cabbage, green leafy vegetables, squash, and Chinese cabbage showed a protective effect against dental issues.

It should be noted that this should not replace proper oral hygiene such as lowering added sugar intake or eating sugary foods in moderation.

Prevents Cognitive Decline

The same study noting the benefits of carrots and other vegetables for tooth retention also associated this dietary pattern with cognitive benefits. Higher intakes of carrots and other nutritious veggies appear to reduce the risk of dementia. Eating cooked and raw carrots as part of an overall healthy eating habit is a proactive way to stay sharp with age.

Reduces Risk of Cancer

The vitamin A in carrots protects DNA from the oxidative damage that can lead to cancer. Carrots come in many colors, including yellow, orange, red, and purple, each with various levels and types of antioxidants.

Orange carrots are high beta carotene, yellow carrots in lutein, red carrots in lycopene, and purple carrots in anthocyanins. Purple carrot extract has been shown to protect colon cells against oxidative DNA damage by over 20%. The antioxidants in different colored carrots work throughout the body to help prevent cancer.

Allergies

Carrot food allergies are rare but possible. If you are allergic to birch tree pollen, you may also experience a cross-reactivity that's triggered by carrots called oral allergy syndrome. Symptoms may occur immediately or up to an hour after exposure. If you suspect an allergy to carrots or oral allergy syndrome, see an allergist to discuss your concerns.

Adverse Effects

Carrots aren't known to cause dangerous side effects, but if you eat a large quantity of them, it's possible to develop a harmless condition called carotenemia. Carotenemia is a yellowing of the skin caused by a high consumption of beta carotene.

Carrots, apricots, mango, papaya, and other foods high in beta carotene can lead to a build-up that turns skin yellow. This effect typically resolves itself shortly after the individual reduces their consumption of beta carotene.

Varieties

There are several varieties of carrots that differ slightly in color, shape, size, taste, and preferred growing conditions. For baby carrots (which are actually just cut carrots), Baby Spike, Little Finger, Short 'n Sweet, and Minicor are good varieties. Other popular carrot varieties include Orbit, Thumbelina, Royal Chantenay, Danvers, Avenger, Gold Pak, Tender Sweet, and Belgium White.

You can find carrot varieties that range in color from white, yellow, orange, red, purple, and black. Carrots are usually purchased fresh, but may also be found frozen or canned. Shredded carrots are an easy add-on to salads and sandwiches.

When It's Best

Carrots can be found at any time of the year due to their long shelf life. In fact, harvested carrots can last for 4–6 months when stored in the right conditions. Find carrots in the grocery store or your local farmers market. Look for fresh carrots that are firm, and dry, without major blemishes or signs of decay (like limpness or sliminess).

Storage and Food Safety

Remove the green tops of carrots to increase their storage life. Although carrot greens are edible, they should be separated from the carrot root to reduce moisture loss. Greens only last a few days in the refrigerator. You can store carrots in the refrigerator crisper in perforated plastic bags for several weeks.

Before eating or cutting into carrots, it's important to scrub off any outside dirt and bacteria using a vegetable brush under cool running water. Many people prefer to peel carrots but this isn't necessary if not desired. Carrots may be preserved at home with a pressure canner. You can also blanch and freeze them.

How to Prepare

Carrots may be eaten raw or cooked into a variety of dishes. Cooked carrots are a popular ingredient in soups and stews. Add fresh shredded carrots to salads, or dip baby carrots in hummus. Roasting carrots helps to bring out their natural sweetness. With a strong blender, you can make carrot juice or smoothies. Carrots may also be sliced thin and marinated as a side dish or topping.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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