While many grocery stores in the United States typically stock just one variety of carrot, there are actually over 500 different types of this vegetable available worldwide. In Canada and Australia, Nantes carrots are commonly found in markets and local gardens, while Kuroda carrots are popular in Africa and Asia. Across much of Europe, Chantenay carrots are favored. In the U.S., Danvers and Imperator carrots are the most commonly sold varieties, both resembling each other closely.

Carrots come in various colors besides orange, including purple, white, red, and yellow. While their precise origin remains unclear, the oldest documented evidence of carrots dates back approximately 1,200 years ago to Iran.

Regardless of their variety or origin, carrots offer a multitude of health benefits.

Are carrots beneficial for health?

Carrots are packed with essential nutrients like protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin C, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Carrots are also rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A,” explains Amber Schaefer, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Vitamin A is crucial for maintaining good vision, reproductive health, skin health, and bone development.

A medium-sized carrot contains about 195 milligrams of potassium, “which supports muscle contraction and nerve function,” notes Kristina Cooke, a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Carrots are also rich in antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation and bolster the immune system. They contain luteolin, which may enhance cognitive function.

Moreover, carrots are an excellent source of dietary fiber, with nearly 2 grams per medium carrot, says Dr. Uma Naidoo, director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Fiber promotes digestive health, aids in regular bowel movements, and helps control blood sugar levels and improve heart health.

The fiber content in carrots also supports healthy weight management, as a single carrot contains only 25 calories yet provides a sense of fullness or satiety.

What are the benefits of carrots?

Beyond their nutritional benefits, carrots are popular for their versatility, accessibility, and affordability, notes Naidoo. “They are a vegetable that is delicious both raw and cooked,” she adds. Cooke highlights that carrots are available year-round and can be found fresh, frozen, or pickled.

Their natural sweetness, with close to 5 grams of natural sugars in a medium carrot, means they can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, from chicken noodle soup to carrot cake, says Schaefer.

Carrots lend themselves well to numerous recipes and preparations, including roasted or glazed carrots, carrot hummus, raw carrot sticks with dressing, carrot wellington, carrot slaw, carrot-ginger soup, carrot muffins and cupcakes, spicy Asian pasta, carrot fries, or simply as a salad topping or side dish with main courses like steak, chicken, or pot roast. “Carrots can also be enjoyed as juice or added to smoothies,” suggests Schaefer.

Are there any drawbacks to eating carrots?

Despite their benefits, consuming excessive amounts of carrots can lead to a condition called carotenemia, where the skin takes on an orange hue due to high beta-carotene levels, explains Schaefer. This is reversible by reducing intake of carotene-rich foods and is more common in infants and young children, posing no toxicity risk.

People allergic to carrots or related plants like birch, mugwort, ivy, or celery should exercise caution, and those with diabetes should monitor carrot intake due to their natural sugar content.

Despite these considerations, most people can benefit greatly from incorporating carrots and a variety of other vegetables into their daily diet. “Get creative with carrot cooking,” advises Cooke. “Enjoy them as a snack with dip, cooked, added to favorite dishes, or even as an ingredient in desserts.”