Carrot: A Goldmine of Nutrients

Carrots are some of the best things you can munch on for a snack!

Carrots are nutritional heroes – they store a gold mine of nutrients. No other vegetable or fruit contains as much carotene as carrots, which the body converts to vitamin A.

Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy eyesight, skin, growth, and also aids our bodies in resisting infection.

Carrots have a higher natural sugar content than all other vegetables with the exception of beets. This is why they make a wonderful snack when eaten raw and make a tasty addition to a variety of cooked dishes.

Leading Source of Beta Carotene

In the American diet, carrots are the leading source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into the active form of vitamin A as needed. Vitamin A is important for its role in promoting vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and cell differentiation.

Carrots are also a good source of fiber. One-half cup of steamed carrot slices contains 35 calories, 9610mcg of beta-carotene, 2-1/2 grams of fiber, 5-1/2mg of vitamin C and 250mg of potassium.

This is a truly versatile vegetable and an excellent source of calcium pectate, an extraordinary pectin fiber that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties. The carrot is an herbaceous plant containing about 87 percent water, rich in mineral salts and vitamins B, C, D, and E.

Raw carrots are also an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium; they contain vitamin B6, thiamin, folic acid, and magnesium.

Cooked carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of potassium, and contain vitamin B6, copper, folic acid, and magnesium. The high level of beta-carotene is very important and gives carrots their distinctive orange color.

Carrots also contain, in smaller amounts, essential oils, carbohydrates and nitrogenous composites. They are well-known for their sweetening, anti anaemic, healing, diuretic, remineralizing and sedative properties.

Nutritionally, eating carrots raw is fine, but cooking them until they are crisp-tender makes the nutrients more available. This is because carrots have a tough cellular wall that is difficult for the digestive system to break down.

Carrots Aid Detox

Carrots help protect the body from cellular damage. Carrots seem to cleanse the body of heavy metals, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, and promote cardiovascular health.

Carrot Varieties

There are many varieties of carrots, but the variety typically found in supermarkets is from 7 to 9 inches in length and 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Carrots are usually sold packaged in plastic bags. Baby carrots were once longer carrots that have been peeled, trimmed to 1 – 1/2 to 2 inches in length and packaged. True baby carrots are removed from the ground early and actually look like miniature carrots.

Selecting Carrots

Carrots are available and in season all year long. Look for well shaped carrots. Pick carrots that are deep orange in color. More beta carotene is present in carrots that have a darker orange color. Avoid carrots that are crackled, shriveled, soft, or wilted.

Carrots are best stored between 32 and 50 degrees in the crisper section of the refrigerator. If you buy carrots with the green tops still on, break off the tops and rinse, place in a plastic bag and store as described above. Storing them in the refrigerator will preserve their flavor, texture, and the beta carotene content. Do not store them with fruits. Fruits produce ethylene gas as they ripen. This gas will decrease the storage life of the carrots as well as other vegetables. This is why it is best to store fruits and vegetables separately.

Preparing Carrots

Although carrots lose some of their vitamins when peeled, dishes prepared with peeled carrots taste fresher and better. Cook carrots in a small amount of water until they are tender, or save time and cook them in the microwave. Season with dill, tarragon, ginger, honey, brown sugar, parsley, lemon or orange juice.

Remove the tops of carrots before storing them in the refrigerator. Those little green tops drain carrots of moisture.

The carrot is a truly versatile vegetable and an excellent source of vitamins B and C as well as calcium pectate. Calcium pectate is an extraordinary pectin fiber that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties.

The carrot is an herbaceous plant containing about 87 percent water, rich in mineral salts and vitamins B, C, D, and E. Raw carrots are also an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium; they contain vitamin B6, thiamin, folic acid, and magnesium.

Cooked carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of potassium, and contain vitamin B6, copper, folic acid, beta carotene and magnesium.

Carrot Companions

The best “go-with” seasonings for carrots are: Cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary and sage.

Carrots are a wonderful addition to comfort foods such as soups and stews, stuffing, meatloaf, casseroles or salads. For an easy flavorful dish, try adding lemon juice, honey, orange juice, a bit of brown sugar or dried fruits to steamed carrots.

In order to assimilate the greatest quantity of the nutrients present in carrots, it is important to chew them well — they are the exception to the rule — they are more nutritious cooked than raw, except when juiced. Cooking partially dissolves cellulose-thickened cell walls, freeing up nutrients by breaking down the cell membranes.

Carrots are one of the best sources of carotene which is a strong antioxidant. But carrots also contain other phenolic compounds that are antioxidants. Many people do not realize that numerous phenolic compounds are located in the skin of fruit and vegetables, many of which are removed by peeling prior to processing.

Nutrition: If you eat carrots and tomatoes together, the lycopene in the tomatoes will enhance the body’s absorption and utilization of beta-carotene.

Chef’s Tips

  • If fresh, whole carrots (even baby ones) clog your blender, try supermarket preshredded julienne carrots. Blend 1/2-cup with 1-cup of orange juice and you get a serving of fruit and a vegetable all in one!
  • If carrots get over-cooked, mash them well and serve with butter or use it as a batter for preparing cutlets.
  • Replacing some of the ground meat in a recipe with shredded carrots is an easy way to lower fat and add nutrients.

Noteable Notes

  • Eating too many carrots can cause the skin to turn yellow because of their rich orange-yellow pigment, but this condition is completely harmless. The skin will return to normal within a few weeks after reducing carrot consumption.
  • Mature carrots are often sweeter than young carrots with the sweetest part of the carrot being closest to the outer layers.
  • Carotenoids, the yellow and orange pigments found in fruits and vegetables are named after carrots, the vegetable in which they were first identified.

Baby Carrots & “White Blush”

Baby carrots are not as nutritious as full whole carrots, because a lot of the goodness in carrots is contained in the skin and just below it. This is removed in the baby carrot making process.

Mini carrots are a great way to eat more vegetables; keep them handy for snacking or cook them for a side dish. Some worry about the white patches that can develop in bagged baby carrots. Don’t worry about the “white blush”; it is safe, doesn’t affect taste and is not a sign the carrots are bad.

The reason for “white blush” is that most “baby carrots” are not young carrots; they’re simply cut from full size carrots that are too twisted or knobby to be appealing and then made to look mini. After that, they are washed and rinsed in a chlorine solution, as are other ready-to-eat vegetables, even bagged salads. So why the white blush? It’s from abrasion and loss of moisture from the cutting and peeling.

Some finished baby carrots are washed, or dipped, by a further chlorine solution to prevent white blushing once in the store. Organic growers use a citrus based non toxic solution called Citrox, the natural alternative to synthetic biocides for the decontamination of fresh produce, food and beverages.

Note on baby carrots: True “baby carrots” have an intact peel and a characteristic “shoulder” on the top of each carrot.

Sweet Baby Carrots Quick Recipe

Roast baby carrots until golden and tender before drizzling with a little honey and sprinkling with an almond dukkah (blend of roasted nuts, spices and seeds) made with toasted almonds, fennel and cumin seeds.

Tasty Tidbit…
Add pine nuts, a squeeze of lime, and crushed red pepper to carrots.

“Sow Carrots in your Gardens, and humbly praise God for them, as for a singular and great blessing.” –Richard Gardiner (1599)

Carrot Coolers

Carrot Body Cooler

Excellent summertime juice to keep your body cool.

4 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 apple, cored

Juice all ingredients in a juicer. Drink immediately.

Alkalizing Juice Cooler

3 carrots
1/2 cucumber
1/2 beet with greens

Juice all ingredients in a juicer. Drink immediately.

Tipsy Carrots

Slice carrots into pennies. Cook the carrots, then drain them and return them to the pan. Add a little butter and a couple of teaspoons of amaretto (almond flavored liqueur) and cook until the butter melts. Brown sugar may be substituted for the amaretto.

Fast Carrot Facts

The crunchy texture and sweet taste of carrots is popular among both adults and children. This is a truly versatile vegetable and an excellent source of vitamins B and C.

Carrots’ antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision.

Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family, named after the umbrella like flower clusters that plants in this family produce. As such, carrots are related to parsnips, fennel caraway, cumin and dill. There are over 100 different varieties that vary in size and color.

Unlike most other vegetables (though not all), carrots are more nutritious when eaten cooked than eaten raw (except when juiced).

The body absorbs the iron in carrots more efficiently than that from most other vegetables.

So long as the cooked carrots are served as part of a meal that provides some fat the body can absorb more than half of the carotene. Also, it usual for carrots to be cut into pieces and eaten after boiling or steaming, but done in this way, half the proteins and soluble carbohydrates will be lost so it is more advisable to cook them whole and then cut up.

Carrots are available all year. Carrots should have smooth skins, good orange color and be well formed. Do not purchase if wilted, cracked or flabby or if tops are green. Keep refrigerated. Carrots are high in vitamin A if not kept soaking in water.

To slip the skins off carrots, drop them in boiling water, let stand for five minutes, then drop them into cold water.

To curl carrots, peel slices with a potato peeler, then drop them in a bowl of ice water.

The tops of carrots should be removed before storing them in the refrigerator. Tops will drain the carrots of moisture, making them limp and dry. Carrots will stay fresh longer if tops are removed before storing in the refrigerator.

Keep carrots away from apples and tomatoes. These fruits give off higher amounts of ethylene gas and may make the carrots bitter.

When grating carrots, leave part of the green top on to use as a handle. Keeps your fingers intact.

Carrot greens are high in vitamin K, which is lacking in the carrot itself. In the United States, carrot greens are not eaten. In France and other European countries the leaves are minced into salads and soups, where the fresh, slightly bitter taste is greatly prized.

Carrot skins contain 10 percent of all nutrients found in carrots.

Extreme carrot noshing can actually turn skin yellow.

The USDA completed studies showing that 7 ounces of carrots consumed every day for three weeks lowered cholesterol levels by 11 percent. This was probably due to the calcium pectate, a type of fiber found in carrots. A good percentage is lost in juicing as mentioned above.

Before the 15th century, orange carrots were nowhere to be seen. There were only purple, yellow, red, and white carrots cultivated. These old varieties are making a comeback in green markets and farm stands across the country.


Carrot History

  • The longest carrot, recorded in 1996, was 5.14 meters (16 feet 10-1/2 inches).
  • Carrots were first grown as a medicine, not a food.
  • Anglo Saxons included carrots as an ingredient in a medicinal drink to ward off the devil and insanity.
  • The heaviest carrot on record, so far, weighed 18.985 pounds, and was harvested in 1998 by John V. R. Evans, an American farmer.
  • Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially.
  • Holtville, California is known as “The Carrot Capital of the World.”
Carrot benefits and nutrition

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