Not just for enhancing vision or putting hair on your chest anymore–carrots may now help prevent some diseases.
Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds, and the richest vegetable source of the pro-vitamin A carotenes. Carrots’ antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision.
Carrots are by far one of the richest source of carotenoids-just one cup provides 16,679 IUs of beta-carotene and 3,432 REs (retinol equivalents), or roughly 686.3% the RDA for vitamin A. High carotenoid intake has been linked with a 20% decrease in postmenopausal breast cancer and an up to 50% decrease in the incidence of cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus. Extensive human studies suggest that a diet including as little as one carrot per day could conceivably cut the rate of lung cancer in half. Remember the study in which heavy long-term cigarette smokers were given synthetic beta-carotene, and it did not appear to prevent them from developing lung cancer? Well, not only is synthetic beta-carotene not biochemically identical to the real stuff found in carrots, but scientists now think that carrots’ protective effects are the result of a team effort among several substances abundant in carrots, including alpha-carotene-another, less publicized carotenoid. A recent National Cancer Institute study found lung cancer occurence was higher in men whose diets did not supply a healthy intake of alpha-carotene.
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