Carrot Benefits Information
Carrots are extremely versatile vegetables. They can be eaten raw, in salads, juiced, added to soups, stews, and casseroles, and added to baked goods such as cakes and muffins, and even pancakes!
When preparing your carrots be sure to scrub them well to remove all dirt and bacteria. If your carrots are not organic, lightly scrape the skin away to remove pesticides. If possible, buy organic carrots because you lose a lot of the nutrients by removing the skin. Avoid the bags of cute “baby” carrots. These are actually the inner core of full grown carrots and contain fewer nutrients.
Carrots are high in fiber. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, B1, B2, B3, B6, and E. They also contain potassium, manganese, molybdenum, folate, and phosphorus. All of this nutrition, and yet one cup of carrots only contains about 50 calories! While carrots do have naturally occurring sugars, you would have to eat approximately 3 pounds of carrots to equal the amount of sugar in one soda.
Remember when your mom would tell you to eat your carrots because they are good for your eyes? She was right, in part. A deficiency of vitamin A can cause blindness in children. Carrots are very rich in beta-carotine, which is converted to vitamin A in your liver. This is necessary for night vision and also helps decrease the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. A deficiency in vitamin A can cause dry skin, hair, and nails, so eating your carrots is actually part of a good beauty regime.
Carrots have many more benefits. They serve as an antioxidant to slow down the cell damage that comes with aging, help lower the risk of heart disease, and may reduce the risk of some cancers.
It is believed that carrots were first grown as medicinal plants. They were thought to aid in digestion and were used in a poultice to prevent infection in cuts.
Early carrots were not the familiar orange ones that we see today. They were purple, white, red, or yellow. Carrots in many colors can still be found at some health food stores. Yellow carrots contain pigments that are similar to beta-carotine and have the same health benefits. Red carrots contain lycopene, which is also found in watermelon and tomatoes. Lycopene is helpful in preventing heart disease and many types of cancers. Purple carrots are usually orange inside. They have more beta-carotine than the usual orange ones. They get their pigment from anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory and also slow blood clotting. White carrots contain no pigment, but do have dietary fiber. Black carrots also have anthocyanins, and the oil from the seeds can help control itchy scalp.
The leafy green carrot tops can be eaten, but they have a bitter taste. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and potassium. They can be added to other foods if you like a little bitterness in your salads, soups, etc. Many people just add them to the compost bin.
Carrots are a nutritious vegetable, but just like anything else there is such a thing as too much. If you eat too many carrots or drink too much carrot juice your skin will turn a yellowish-orange, especially your hands. This is because your body is not able to process all the carotene you are consuming or your liver is toxic. If you cease your consumption the color should disappear in a few days, but to continue over consumption can lead to serious medical problems.
Carrots are sweet and crunchy and delicious eaten raw. They are also one of the few vegetables that are more nutritious when cooked. While heat may decrease the amount of vitamin C they contain, cooking actually increases the level of beta-carotine. So enjoy your carrots any way you like them, knowing you are getting the health benefits of an extremely nutritious food.