How carrots help you see in the dark?
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which helps the eye to convert light into a signal that is sent to the brain and helps us to see in the dark. Vitamin A gets transformed into a purple pigment called rhodopsin in the retina, and this pigment is vital for seeing in dim light.
Those with vitamin A deficiency often experience night blindness, a condition that causes difficulty seeing at night. While eating carrots and food rich in vitamin A won’t give night vision, it may help you see a bit clearer in the dark and avoid bumping into things.
What was the real cause of this belief?
The belief that carrots help you see in the dark stems from wartime propaganda. During World War II, the British Ministry of Information created a campaign that popularised the myth that eating carrots help you see in the dark to distract German intelligence agencies.
The German army was confused by the RAF's achievements in taking down their planes in the dark. British citizens were convinced through poster campaigns that consuming carrots would help them to cope during a blackout, and newspaper reports claimed that British pilots had been eating carrots to take on the Luftwaffe.
This popular myth stopped the German army from discovering the real reason for the Royal Air Force's success: a state-of-the-art radar system that allowed them to pinpoint the enemy's locations from far distances.
The UK Government's Food Ministry also popularised the belief that carrots help you see in the dark to promote carrots as a substitute for rationed goods. Carrots were featured on pages of recipe books, in advertising campaigns, cinema and on the radio.
According to the World Carrot Museum, the saying, “carrots help you see in the dark” became popular during this time and encouraged people to eat more carrots with the belief that they would see more clearly during a blackout.
Are carrots good in other ways?
Carrots have a wealth of nutritional and health benefits. They contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and compounds that benefit from treating various diseases.
Eating carrots regularly can improve the appearance of skin, hair and nails as well as aid the following:
Healthy, younger-looking skin
Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant nutrient and can help the skin remain looking young and healthy.
Eating carrots can also protect the skin from sun damage as beta carotene helps keep the skin safe from excessive UV rays, radiation and sunburn. Nevertheless, eating carrots is not a substitute for wearing sunscreen or sunglasses.
Strong immune system
Vitamin A is needed to keep the immune system strong and help it to function properly. Eating carrots will, therefore, help in doing this.
Carrots are high in fibre which helps to keep the digestive system healthy and also balance blood sugar levels. They also help to maintain weight as fibre keeps us fuller for longer.
Purifies the blood
The alkaline elements in carrots help purify the blood and balance the alkaline acid ratio in the body.
In addition to the above, carrots count towards one of our five a day and are low in saturated fat, salt and calories, thus keeping us healthy and reducing the risk of getting high blood pressure. Eating cooked carrots have a nutritional bonus as more beta carotene is absorbed from cooked, pureed carrots than raw ones.
Are there consequences of eating too many carrots?
As with anything consumed in excess, eating too many carrots can also have some not-so-great consequences, which is why it’s best to eat them in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Consequences of consuming too many carrots include the following:
Eating too many carrots or beta carotene-rich foods can cause a discolouration of the skin, a condition known as carotenemia. This can cause a yellow tinge most noticeable on the skin of your palms or soles.
You may experience bowel changes from eating too many carrots as they are rich in dietary fibre, promoting efficient digestion. Consuming large amounts can temporarily disrupt your bowels leading to loose stools or constipation if you fail to drink enough fluids.
Other side effects
If you’re eating an excessive amount of carrots instead of a balanced diet, you may be eliminating other essential nutrients such as calcium and iron. There are many different foods to eat for good eye health.
In addition to this, they are low in fat which is needed for your body to absorb the beta carotene and vitamin A from the carrots. For this reason, it’s essential to eat a balanced diet full of nutrients that can support each other to meet your body's nutritional requirements.
While the belief that carrots help you see in the dark is considered an eye care myth by many, the vitamin A in carrots can certainly help us see more clearly in dim light. Eating carrots will not give you some sort of magical night vision, but they provide numerous eye health benefits and support our immune system and overall health in many other ways.