One of the most popular carrot forms currently on the market is baby carrots. They were invented by a California carrot farmer in 1986, who wanted to save some of the misshaped and broken carrots in his harvest. So this type of carrots doesn’t mean that it’s consisted of real “baby” carrots, but less-than-ideal carrots are reduced to a smaller size. These baby carrots are usually given a chlorine bath for prolonged shelf life but are still more expensive than the normal whole carrots.
This is why we recommend buying and consuming whole carrots rather than baby carrots. Carrots used to be part of the list of most heavily pesticide-loaded products, and even though they were removed from it in the past couple of years, the safest option is to choose organically grown varieties.
Why Consume Carrots?
This vegetable is quite common in the U.S as a popular snack food with dips, or in addition to fresh veggie smoothies, juices, stews, and soups. Besides their various usage, carrots were considered a beneficial vegetable because of their medicinal properties. The US Department of Agriculture explains that the early Virginia colonists first brought the cultivated carrots in North America. Along with anise, celery, and dill, carrots are members of the Medicine Net family. The early history of this orange vegetable was focused on its different medicinal properties regarded as suitable for healing various ailments and conditions.
What Nutrients Are Found in Carrots?
One medium carrot or half a cup of chopped carrot provides:
- 210 percent of the average recommended daily intake of vitamin A
- 10 percent vitamin K
- 6 percent vitamin C
- 2 percent calcium
Carrots are widely known for their high vitamin A content that comes from beta-carotene which is transformed into vitamin A in the liver.
Moreover, the content of carrot seed oil includes vitamin B6, potassium, thiamine, folic acid, copper, and magnesium. However, since they also contain sugar, and in higher amounts than any other vegetable except for beetroot, we recommend limiting their consumption.
If you consume carrots in an overall healthy diet, their nutrients might provide protection against stroke and heart disease, at the same time helping you to build a healthy nervous system and strong bones.
Research About Carrots
According to science, carrots help in the reduction of the risk of chronic disease, so it’s a good idea to add them to your everyday diet.
Researchers state that carrots consumption is related to a 32% lower risk of CHD, coronary heart disease, as well as to lower heart attacks risk in women.
Beta-carotene and other antioxidants in carrots might have an important role in the prevention of cancer. According to research, smokers who consume this vegetable more than once a week have shown a decreased risk of lung cancer, whereas a diet high in beta-carotene can protect against cancer on the prostate.
Falcarinol is a natural toxin found in carrots, which protects them against fungal disease. It is considered that this toxic is able to provoke cancer-fighting mechanisms in the body since it was proven that it reduces the risk of cancer development in rats.
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to deterioration of the eye’s photoreceptors, which might result in vision problems. Consuming food high in beta-carotene might restore eye vision, confirming the old saying that carrots are beneficial for the eyes.
It was discovered that carrot extract is beneficial in cases of cognitive dysfunctions, and can reduce cholesterol levels as well as improve memory.
You can also protect your liver from the harmful effects of environmental chemicals with a carrot extract.
The extract from this vegetable provides significant anti-inflammatory effects even in comparison with anti-inflammatory medicines like Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Celebrex, and Naproxen.
Cooking Might Increase the Carrots’ Health Benefits
Raw carrots are surely delicious, but according to research cooked carrots might help to enhance their nutritional content. Surprisingly, once a study proved that cooked carrots contain higher amounts of phenolic acids and beta-carotene than raw carrots, and plus their anti-oxidant properties proceeded to grow over a 4 week period. The antioxidant levels were also improved by adding carrot peels to a carrot puree.
Although most vegetables are recommended to be consumed raw, carrots are one of the rare ones which are said to be more beneficial when consumed cooked, especially steamed.
When it comes to their storage, keep them wrapped in a paper towel or in a sealed plastic bag in the coolest part of your fridge. This should keep your carrots fresh for approximately 2 weeks. Avoid keeping them near pears, apples, or potatoes, since the ethylene gas these foods release might cause the bitter taste of your carrots.
Fun Facts about Carrots
Over 11 pounds of carrots are eaten per year by the average American. And, have you heard that before the 17th or 18th century, most carrots were yellow, purple, or white? The “carrot” word derives from the Greek word “karoton”, whose first 3 letters indicate a horn-like shaped object.
On a global level, there are hundreds of carrots’ varieties, and America is the 3rd world-leading producer (after China and Russia). The largest amount of carrots in the U.S is produced in Washington, California, and Michigan.