The Amazing Health Benefits of Carrots

“Carrots make the buttocks pink,” they say, or “to see well, you need to eat carrots.” If we believe in the properties of carrots, there is some truth behind this. Indeed, they are full of carotenoids, natural pigments responsible for the orange-yellow to purplish-red coloring of many fruits and vegetables. These colors are not only pleasing to the eye, they protect the skin from aging, limit the risk of prostate cancer and the occurrence of AMD and cataracts.

The word carotenoid comes from the Latin name for carrots (Daucus carota), from which beta-carotene (or provitamin A), the most abundant carotenoid in our diet, was first isolated. Carotenoids are a very large family of molecules with over 600 different members identified in a wide variety of foods.

Humans, like animals in general, are incapable of producing carotenoids, so these molecules must come from our diet. Fortunately, sources of carotenoids are plentiful, and abundant plant intake ensures an ample supply of these molecules. In general, it is believed that the human diet allows the absorption of about fifty different carotenoids, the most important of which are beta-carotene (carrots), lutein (spinach) and lycopene (tomatoes), which make up almost 80% of all three of them. consumption of carotenoids by the population.

Pro-vitamin A protects the skin from the sun, UV and aging

Adequate intake of carotenoids or provitamin A is important because these pigments perform many positive health functions. Most carotenoids are also powerful antioxidants that can protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. This protective effect is especially important for the skin, an organ that contains large amounts of dietary carotenoids.

Research has shown that increased consumption of carotenoid-rich foods is associated with better UV protection. Of all the carotenoids, lycopene, a molecule found in high amounts in tomatoes, is by far the most effective at scavenging free radicals generated by UV rays, which can slow down skin aging. For example, one study found that daily consumption of tomato paste was associated with an approximately 30% increase in skin protection from the sun, as well as a significant increase in collagen levels, two factors critical to maintaining skin integrity.

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25% reduced risk of prostate cancer

In addition to their antioxidant effects, carotenoids also have a number of cellular effects that may be involved in chronic disease prevention. The most prominent example is undoubtedly tomato lycopene, a molecule that has the ability to block the growth of several types of cancer cells, in particular those derived from prostate cancer.

In the latter case, studies have shown that regular consumption of tomato products leads to the accumulation of lycopene in the prostate, as well as a significant reduction in the risk of prostate cancer. For example, a study of 47,000 Americans shows that regular consumption of tomato products reduces the risk of developing cancer of this organ by about 25%.

Reduce the risk of AMD and cataracts

Some carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin, are converted to vitamin A, an important vitamin for vision. This role of beta-carotene in vision is also the source of the saying that carrots are good for vision. Thus, lutein and zeaxanthin, two molecules abundant in green vegetables, are concentrated in the central part of the retina (macula), forming a protective layer that absorbs high-energy (blue) light.

Studies show that the formation of this layer has a protective effect against the risk of age-related macular degeneration; for example, regular consumption of important sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, including spinach and corn, has been correlated with a reduced risk of macular degeneration as well as cataracts.

The many health benefits of carotenoids are another good reason to regularly eat a variety of plants, especially colorful ones.

Source :

Giovanucci et al. A prospective study of tomato products, lycopene and prostate cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst; 94:391-8.

Carpentier et al. Association between lutein, zeaxanthin and age-related macular degeneration: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr; 49:313-26.

* Presse Santé strives to communicate health knowledge in a language that is accessible to all. IN NO EVENT can the information provided be a substitute for the advice of a healthcare professional.

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