Q: Do carrots really help my eyesight at night? Or was Mom just saying that as a way of getting me to eat carrots?
A: Yes, Mom was right! Carrots really do help your eyesight at night, or “night vision.” Carrots are an incredible vegetable. Their bright orange color is due to a plant pigment called beta-carotene, the extraordinary chemical that doubles as both a pro-vitamin (the precursor to vitamin A) and a powerful antioxidant. Carrots are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene in our diet. Beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) is converted into the fat-soluble vitamin A (aka retinol) in the human body. Vitamin A is a crucial vitamin for eye health. In fact, the first sign of a vitamin A deficiency is night blindness, the inability to see in dim light. In developing countries, blindness is often observed in children—a result of a vitamin A deficiency.
For a mere 30 calories in one large carrot you get a whole lot of nutrition . . . imagine, almost half (~ 41%) of the daily value for vitamin A in a single carrot! High in fiber and disease-fighting plant chemicals, with zero fat and cholesterol and very little sodium, carrots are one vegetable that should be on everyone’s daily vegetable list. Thanks, Mom, for the great advice!