Today is International Carrot Day – the one day of the year when we show our love for the unique conical orange vegetable and the sector that puts them on our plates. Carrots are now grown across the UK with affordable vegetables in shops every month of the year.

To celebrate the Great British carrot industry here are six facts about our beloved vegetable:

1. Cooking carrots makes them better for you. While some nutrients (such as vitamin C) can be lost through cooking, a study found that cooked carrots, rather than raw ones, actually led to higher absorption of an important nutrient beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is used by the body to make vitamin A which helps with vision, skin health, and the immune system.

2. Carrots were not always orange. Today carrots sold in supermarkets these days are almost exclusively orange, but the earliest documented plants produced purple, yellow, or white varieties. There’s some dispute about whether Dutch horticulturalists bred orange carrots in the 16th century to honour William of Orange but whatever the reason, the new colour became dominant.

3. Each year 22 billion carrot seeds are sown in Britain, producing around 100 carrots per year for every member of the population.

4. Carrots come from Asia. The first recorded crop of carrots was from Afghanistan in the 10th century.

5. Not all carrots are the same. There is a huge range of carrot varieties grown in all colours and sizes such as Solar Yellow, Red Elephant, Purple Dragon, Five-Star Baby, and Little Fingers.

6. Carrots could help you see in the dark. The old adage about carrots helping you see in the dark is said to have come about during World War II, when the Ministry of Food wanted the public to believe the success of night-time air raids was down to pilots munching lots of the veggies, which are rich in a nutrient called beta-carotene. However there could be truth in the tale as beta-carotene has been shown to help improve night vision, but only in people who have a vitamin A deficiency, which is unlikely nowadays in developed countries.