Does Eating Carrots Improve Vision? Here's the Truth

While I eventually figured out that spinach won’t give me superhuman strength, I’d always accepted — even as an adult — that carrots were good for the eyes and we needed to eat a lot of it.

So you can imagine my surprise when I learned in later years that the carrot’s claim to fame is nothing more than an urban myth, born from propaganda spread during World War II.

That’s right, the government tricked people into believing carrots could help them see better. But why?

The onboard Airborne Interception (AI) radar, first used by the RAF in 1939, had the ability to detect enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel.

Ace fighter pilot John “Cat’s Eyes” Cunningham was the first RAF pilot to shoot down an enemy plane in 1940 using AI. His impressive record boasted 20 kills — 19 of which were at night.

In order to keep the newly adopted technology under cover, the now-defunct Ministry of Food attributed the British pilot’s success to carrots.

They told newspapers that the pilot’s razor-sharp night vision was a result of consuming a steady diet of carrots, and claimed that civilians could also have eyesight as good as Cunningham’s (especially during mandatory citywide blackouts) if only they ate more carrots and stopped complaining about wartime rations.

On the surface, this seemed plausible. The humble root vegetable was known as a good source of vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), a vital nutrient for general health of the eyes as well as the skin, hair, and immune system.

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