Bugs Bunny was on to something. As I go through a Summer of Healthy (well, Healthier) Eating and Exercise, the humble carrot has surged to the top of my list of “things I thought were boring but really aren’t.” (Sorry, golf and tofu, you’re still on there.)
It all started with my three-day organic cold-pressed juice cleanse. Each of the five Living Juice flavors was so different, and each was my favorite while I was drinking it. But Carrot Kick got me thinking about a root vegetable I used to dismiss as something for my kids to stick into peanut butter, or use to make a snowman’s nose.
A quick Google search led me to a myriad of articles touting carrots as a power food with a host of health benefits. Rich in beta-carotene, carrots slow down the aging of cells, and help protect skin from sun damage and prevent premature wrinkling. A steady diet of heart-healthy carrots has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels.
My favorite? A study that showed eating a diet rich in foods like carrots can give your skin a golden hue that looks better than a suntan.
So long, Amagansett! (Not really.)
As for that old wives’ tale about carrots being good for your eyes? Carrots’ beta-carotene converts to a form of vitamin A called retinal, involved in maintaining normal vision. And beta-carotene has been shown to protect against macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss.
Whew! That’s more science than I’m used to sharing, but bottom line: Your mom was right, even if she was just saying something to get you to eat your vegetables - carrots really are good for your eyes.
That’s why in addition to Carrot Kick, I’m incorporating more carrots into my diet. (Like the grated carrot salad recipe here.) And I expect I’ll continue my culinary affair with carrots even after my summer of health(ier) habits ends, because there’s never a good time to stop preventing the aging of your skin. Or macular degeneration, for that matter.
But I’ll still be sure and save a little something for the snowman.