There’s an old saw about health that says: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I’m not sure about the veracity of this claim, but if I had to pick between apples and carrots, I’d pick carrots. Unlike apples, scientists have made a good case that carrots, and the chemicals found therein, hold a key to greater health and longevity.

After a 14-year study it was found that participants with the highest blood levels of alpha-carotene, an antioxidant found in many orange vegetables, were at lower risk of dying from any cause, and from conditions specifically related to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Like other antioxidants, alpha-carotene is found in several orange vegetables, including carrots.

Alpha-carotene is chemically similar to beta-carotene, but may be more effective at inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in the brain, liver and skin, it has been noted. The results support increasing fruit and vegetable consumption as a way of preventing premature death, and suggest a need for clinical research into the health benefits of alpha-carotene, studies conclude. Higher alpha-carotene concentration also appeared to be associated with lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer individually, and of all other causes.

And what of antioxidant supplements? Those which contain alpha-carotene do tend to show, according to studies, that antioxidant supplements assist in longevity of life and the promulgation of healthy living. Those with the highest levels of alpha-carotene in their blood were 39% less likely to have died during this period than those with the lowest levels.  Across the board, the higher the blood level of alpha-carotene of a given study participant, the less likely he was to die of any cause.

Carrots apparently do more than increase eyesight, as the myths assumed. Indeed, they contain powerful antioxidants that can further health. One can extrapolate from this that vegetables are not only points of virtue meant for children, but valuable foodstuffs that increase our lives and our overall health.