Environment

  • Issue 73 / January - February 2010



    The Carrot: A Source of Healing

    Selim Mutlu

    Arguably one of the most popular vegetables that we use in our kitchens is carrots. With the exception of its well known benefits to the sight, only few of us really know about some of its alternative benefits. Could there be more to a carrot then “meets the eye”? In the quest to explore some of the latent benefits within a carrot, I discovered a remarkable range of its effectiveness. The ensuing discussion shares some of this fascinating discovery.

    Scientifically known as Daucus Carota, carrots categorically are in the same family as fennel, cumin, dill, celery and parsley. They mainly originated in geographies of Central Asia and Middle East and their original flavor were somewhat different to the contemporary ones. The carrot as a plant stores its foodstuff in its roots. Besides their common use for consumption, they can be juiced or grated. They bring a distinct flavor when used in salads and meals. Although generally considered to be orange, yet carrots’ color can be as diverse as green, red, white and even purple.

    Some astounding medical benefits
    Created rich in Vitamin A carotene, carrot is an excellent source of antioxidant for the treatment of cancer and protection from some cardiovascular diseases. They are also instrumental for the regulation of sugar in our blood. The findings of a survey conducted on 1,300 patients, reveal those who eat carotene-rich foods such as carrot or squash, at least once a day, have about 60% less risk of cancer than those deficient in their carotene intakes. In specific terms, while the regular consumption of carotenoid reduces the risk of post-menopause breast cancer by an estimated 20%; on the other hand esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, uterine cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, throat cancer and lung cancer are believed to reduce the risk by an astounding 50%.

    Scientists state that the risk-reducing influence of the carrot comes not only as a result of its beta-carotene ingredient but also from its alpha-carotene and some other elements.

    How does carrot improve the quality of vision?
    Unsurprisingly carrots are known for the goodness they bring to the eyes; particularly valuable for improving night vision. The beta carotene has been made to play a pivotal role in this respect. An incredibly sophisticated process eventuates as Vitamin A is converted in the liver into beta-carotene and is then carried to the retina of the eye. It is here when beta-carotene is converted to rhodopsin, imperative pigment that aids night vision. It is with rohdopsin that vision is sharpened and sight becomes possible in darker environments. On the contrary however, when there is Vitamin A deficiency in the body, night sight is adversely impacted. Moreover the antioxidant in beta-carotene has been equipped with an additional protective role against macular degeneration as well as cataract.

    Carrot’s falcarinol and colon’s well being
    The natural pesticide (falcarinol) found in carrots is believed to reduce the risk of cancer. In order to ascertain this relationship between falcarinol and cancer risk reduction, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, conducted an experimental study on the subject. Three different groups of laboratory animals had been given precancerous colon lesions. The first group was fed with standard diet, the second group with freeze-dried carrots that contained a natural level of falcarinol while the third group was exclusively fed falcarionol/g derived from carrots. After 18 weeks period, the number of lesions which were given to potentially increase the class size, significantly decreased in those rats fed with one of the two experimental treatments. The finding demonstrated that dietary treatments with carrot’s falcarinol caused delay and in some cases the retardation in the development of large tumors.

    This established a significant relationship between those critical endowed carrot contents and the risk-reduction of cancerous tumors.

    Carrots and lung protection
    Overtime a number of studies have been conducted and research have established direct link between Vitamin A and its role in the protection of lungs. The scientifically established relationship between Vitamin A, pneumonia and emphysema, found that the benzo(a)pyrene, the main carcinogen in cigarette smoke causes the Vitamin A to diminish. This is especially true when long term smoke addicts who have also had poor Vitamin A diet, causes more cancer-related diseases and emphysema.

    Earlier studies have also demonstrated that a diet poor in Vitamin A causes emphysema. Subsequent studies have further substantiated that a diet rich in Vitamin A can help reduce emphysema. Indisputably carrots are rich in their Vitamin A reserves. Carrots have been also made with the capacity to aid and protect our lungs.

    Experts are therefore of the opinion that carrot is stomach and intestines’ close friend. It can be said that their overall benefits can range from blood-formation, to strength, from diarrhea control, to being laxative, to their help with bile discharges and the strengthening of the liver brings to attention the remarkably latent benefits within carrots and makes them an indispensable vegetable beyond the immediate value of taste and color.

    This discovery about carrots, amongst innumerable other vegetables, virtually makes the earth a mighty pharmacy which is orderly fashioned with numerous therapeutic qualities in the form of vegetables and herbs spread out in abundance. Quite substantially it appears that not only do they attract with their beauty and color the gazes of our eyes; not only do they afford us with innumerable varieties of tastes and flavors but in addition with the use of their innate given potentials they work extraordinarily and in remedial manner whilst in our bodies.

    All this appropriately recalls to mind the Might and Power of God Almighty as eloquently expressed in the Quran “Who is it that provides for you from heaven and earth?” (Quran Al-Yunus, 10:31)

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