Mythbusting Mondays: Do carrots improve eyesight?

Carrots

“Nyeeeeh, what’s up, doc?” Bugs Bunny would often go off at one or the other character in his cartoons, chomping on a carrot. That alone served as the inspiration for many a mother to get their children to eat the vegetable. A close second was the old belief that carrots improve eyesight.

These vegetables — seasonal in some countries and perennial in some others — are a rich source of many nutrients. And Vitamin A — the one that is said to improve eyesight — is primary among them.

Therefore, it should follow that the consumption of carrots improves eyesight, right? Right?

Carrot
[Representational image] | Photo credit: Creative Commons

Do carrots improve eyesight?

The truth is a little complicated. The short version is that it does, but only if you are grossly deficient in Vitamin A. Otherwise, there may not be much of an improvement in your vision.

The consumption of carrots has other benefits, however. These include aiding in digestion and bowel movement, which is caused by the fibre present in carrots.

Carrots also contain a good quantity of antioxidants and beta-carotene.

However, none of these can improve your eyesight to an extent where you may not need glasses anymore!

Glasses
[Representational image] | Photo credit: Creative Commons

So how did the myth originate?

The origin of the myth that carrots can improve eyesight greatly seems to be World War II propaganda, right up there with the anti-German and anti-Japanese information or misinformation that was peddled through books, films and posters.

It seems the British Royal Air Force spread the propaganda that carrots lead to improved eyesight to mask the use of radars.

Many British pilots and ground staff were then using radars to shoot down enemy planes. The fib on carrots was spread to mask any chatter on these radars!

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