The next time carrots are served at the dinner table, heap up a fair-sized portion on your plate. You will notice how children and older adults will grab for them first. This scene is not as unusual as you’d think.
Recent studies show that children and seniors favor carrots over other vegetables.
But these findings alone don’t prove why carrots are good for you.
You may not be fond of them. But, keep reading. Your opinion will soon change.
Did you know that up to the middle ages carrots were not orange in colour, but in fact purple? And they didn’t embody the sweetness that carrots are today. They were small and bitter.
Until that era, the cultivation of carrots made its way across Europe from central Asia and the Middle East. The first batch of orange carrots came out of Holland in the 16th century.
This is not a coincidence.
So why orange?
Giving carrots their brilliant orange hue is the antioxidant, beta-carotene. Once absorbed, this amazing antioxidant is converted into vitamin A.
What’s so good about vitamin A?
The age-old belief that eating carrots promotes good vision is not entirely correct. There is little evidence to prove that carrots are actually good for your eyes. However, if your eyesight is poor due to vitamin A deficiency, eating carrots helps.
The fact is, carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, as well as biotin, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, vitamins B6 and vitamin C. And they’re a good source of manganese, niacin, vitamin B1, panthothenic acid, phosphorus, folate, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin B2.
That’s a whole lot of vitamins.
Antioxidants and phytochemicals
Antioxidants and phytochemicals in carrots are hailed for their phenomenal health benefits. These perks are miraculously responsible for regulating blood sugar, slowing the human ageing-process and improving immune function.
Find that hard to believe?
Pour yourself a glass of freshly squeezed carrot juice and sit down for the rest of the story. The evidence I’m about to share is pretty darned awesome.
Conclusive evidence presents
A 10-year study from the Netherlands has given us conclusive evidence that eating less than one-quarter of a cup of carrots daily reduces our risk of cardiovascular disease significantly.
The colour of the fruit or vegetable that you eat makes a huge difference to your health as well. Not surprisingly, deeper shades of orange and yellow protect you the most from cardiovascular disease.
All those benefits
So far we have learned that carrots have antioxidant benefits and cardiovascular benefits. Did you know they also give you anti-cancer benefits?
Again, there’s a lot of research in the field of nutritional science to back up these facts.
For instance, recently scientists have identified another category of phytonutrients in carrots called polyacetylenes. These carrot polyacetylenes can slow or stop the growth of colon cancer cells. It’s interesting to note the most research on anti-cancer benefits of carrots is with respect to colon cancer looking at the intake of carrot juice by study participants.
What is the best way to eat a carrot?
I’m tempted to say, one bite at a time. But the research is far more exciting…
While crunching on raw carrots is good for you, there is evidence suggesting the best way to consume carrots is steamed. Amazingly, the beta-carotene found in carrots does not degrade with heat, as with most phytonutrients in vegetables.
There is some evidence showing many of these benefits can be achieved with 2 servings of carrots per week. This is not a difficult goal.
Here are some ideas:
Try raw carrot dipped in hummus or veggie dip at lunch.
Add chunks of carrots to your soup during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Steam your carrots and then glaze with brown sugar and cinnamon for a treat with your roast chicken.
Grate carrot into salads.
Add whole peeled carrots to the roasting pan when roasting meat.
Roast carrot chunks along with parsnips or sweet potato.
Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.Jim Davis
The world’s healthiest foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=21, 2001-2016
Lin BH and Lucier G. Carrot Consumption Varies With Age, Income, and Race. Amber Waves. Washington: Apr 2008. Vol. 6, Iss. 2; p. 4. 2008
Morizet D, Depezay L, Masse P et al. Perceptual and lexical knowledge of vegetables in preadolescent children. Appetite. 2011 Aug;57(1):142-7. Epub 2011 Apr 16. 2011.
Oude Griep LM, Monique Verschuren WM, Kromhout D et al. Colours of fruit and vegetables and 10-year incidence of CHD. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jun 8:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]. 2011.