Carrots are one of the most widely used and enjoyed vegetables in the world, partly because they grow relatively easily, and are very versatile in a number of dishes and cultural cuisines. They are scientifically classified as Daucus carota and categorized as a root vegetable. They are typically orange in colour, but there are purple, white, yellow, and red carrots also out there, just not as common.
It’s no coincidence that “carotene” sounds like “carrot.” The name “carrot” comes from the Greek word “karoton.” The beta-carotene that is found in carrots was actually named for the carrot itself.
Carrots are often thought of as the ultimate health food. Generations of parents have told their children: "Eat your carrots, they are good for you," or "Carrots will help you see in the dark."
The taproot of the carrot is the part of the vegetable most commonly eaten, although the greens are still beneficial in salads and other forms.
Both adults and children like them because of their crunchy texture and sweet taste.
Carrots are native to large sections of the world's geography, including Africa, Asia, and Europe. They have become naturalized to many other parts of the world and are widely cultivated as a food crop. On a global basis, over 40 million tons of carrots are grown each year. Among all countries, China is the world's top carrot producer, growing about 45% of the world's total crop.
Health Benefits of Carrots
Health benefits of carrots include the following:
Prevent Heart Diseases
High cholesterol is a major factor for heart disease. Since regular consumption of carrots reduces cholesterol levels, it is a good idea to consume a healthy dose of carrots, in order to prevent heart-related problems.
Lower Blood Pressure
Next time you start getting riled up about something and your blood begin to boil, eat a carrot! They are rich sources of potassium, which is a vasodilator and can relax the tension in your blood vessels and arteries, thereby increasing blood flow and circulation, boosting organ function throughout the body, and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system. High blood pressure is also directly linked to atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks, so this is yet another heart-healthy aspect of carrots. The coumarin found in them also has been linked to reducing hypertension and protecting your heart health.
Help in Digestion
Carrots, like most vegetables, have significant amounts of dietary fibre in those orange roots, and fibre is one of the most important elements in maintaining good digestive health. Fibre adds bulk to stool, which helps it pass smoothly through the digestive tract, and stimulates peristaltic motion and the secretion of gastric juices. Altogether, this reduces the severity of conditions like constipation and protects your colon and stomach from various serious illnesses, including colorectal cancer. Fibre also boosts heart health by helping to eliminate excess LDL cholesterol from the walls of arteries and blood vessels.
Furthermore, carrot juice improves stomach and gastrointestinal health.
Carrots contain a number of antiseptic and antibacterial abilities that make them ideal for boosting the immune system. Not only that, they are a rich source of vitamin C, which stimulates the activity of white blood cells and is one of the most important elements in the human immune system.
Beta-carotene consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of several cancers, notably lung cancer. Carrots contain beta-carotene. Past studies have concluded that beta-carotene supplementation may reduce the risk of lung cancer.
In a separate study, researchers found that eating fibre-rich carrots reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 24 percent. Another study shows that women who ate raw carrots were five to eight times less likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not.
Studies have found a possible link between diets rich in carotenoids and a lower risk of prostate cancer, but more evidence is needed to confirm whether the link is causal.
Further research into the application of both carrots and beta-carotene in relation to other forms of cancer is ongoing.
This is a common eye disease of the elderly that impairs the function of the macula. Research has found that people who ate the most amount of beta-carotene had a forty percent lower risk of macular degeneration compared with those who consumed the least.
Beta-carotene can also split itself via an enzymatic reaction to form pro-vitamin A, which is often associated with antioxidant capacity in relation to vision. While they may not help you see in the dark as often said, the vitamin A in carrots helps prevent vision loss, preventing conditions like night blindness from developing as we age.
Improve Oral Health
The organic compounds in carrots all by themselves are good for mineral antioxidants, but carrots also stimulate the gums and induce excess saliva. Saliva is an alkaline substance and combats the bacteria and foreign bodies that can often result in cavities, halitosis, and other oral health risks.
Reduce the Risk of Stroke
Eating a carrot every day reduces the risk of stroke by 68%. Many studies have strengthened the belief in the “carrot effect” on the brain. Studies conducted on stroke patients revealed that those with the highest levels of beta-carotene had the highest survival rate.
Carrots are good for blood sugar regulation due to the presence of carotenoids in this delicious vegetable. Carotenoids inversely affect insulin resistance and thus lower blood sugar, thereby helping diabetic patients live a normal, healthy life. They also regulate the amount of insulin and glucose that is being used and metabolized by the body, providing a more even and healthy fluctuation for diabetic patients.
Promote Healthier Skin Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes and uneven skin tone. Carrot oil is good for dry skin because it makes the skin softer, smoother, and firmer.
Carrots are also used as an inexpensive and very convenient facial mask by mixing grated carrot with a bit of honey.
Slow Down Aging The high level of beta-carotene in carrots acts as an antioxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism. It help slows down the aging of cells.
Aid Weight Loss
Carrots, as parts of meals, can increase satiety and decrease calorie intake in subsequent meals.
For this reason, carrots may be a useful addition to an effective weight loss diet.
How to Eat Carrots
Carrots should be washed thoroughly before consuming. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, roasted, and as an ingredient in many soups and stews.
You can use shredded carrots in coleslaws, salads, wraps
You can add shredded carrots to baked goods, such as cakes and muffins
Snack on carrot sticks or baby carrots as snack or with herbed dips and hummus
Use carrots in juice for a sweet, mild flavour
Raw or steamed carrots provide the most nutritional value.
Baby carrots are a term for small and/or immature carrots, which have become very popular as a snack food in recent years.
There are actually two kinds of carrots that are called baby carrots, which can be a little misleading.
On one hand, there are whole carrots that are naturally small, or carrots that are harvested before they grow large.
On the other hand, there are baby-cut carrots. These are pieces from larger carrots that have been machine cut into the preferred size, then peeled, polished and sometimes washed in small amounts of chlorine before packing.
There is very little difference in nutrients between regular and baby carrots, and they should have the same health effects.
Carrots Nutrition Facts
Most of the benefits of carrots can be attributed to their beta-carotene and fibre content. This root vegetable is also a good source of antioxidant agents. Furthermore, they are rich in vitamin A, C, K, and B8, as well as pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese.
How to Select and Store Carrots
Carrot roots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight and bright in colour. The deeper the orange-colour, the more beta-carotene is present in the carrot. Avoid carrots that are excessively cracked or forked as well as those that are limp or rubbery. In addition, if the carrots do not have their tops attached, look at the stem end and ensure that it is not darkly coloured as this is also a sign of age. If the green tops are attached, they should be brightly coloured, feathery and not wilted. Since the sugars are concentrated in the carrots' core, generally those with larger diameters will have a larger core and therefore be sweeter.
Carrots are hardy vegetables that will keep longer than many others if stored properly. The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture they lose. To do this, make sure to store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. Loss of some nutrients in carrots (for example, its vitamin C content) is likely to be slowed down through refrigeration.
They should be able to keep fresh for about two weeks. Carotenoids in carrots, including beta-carotene, tend to be well-retained if the carrots are properly stored. Carrots should be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it may cause them to become more bitter in taste.
If you purchase carrot roots with attached green tops, the tops should be cut off before storing in the refrigerator since they will cause the carrots to wilt prematurely as they pull moisture from the roots. While the tops can be stored in the refrigerator, kept moist by being wrapped in a damp paper, they should really be used soon after purchase since they are fragile and will quickly begin to wilt.
Here is some background on why it is recommended to refrigerate carrots. Whenever food is stored, four basic factors affect its nutrient composition: exposure to air, exposure to light, exposure to heat, and length of time in storage. Vitamin C, vitamin B6, and carotenoids are good examples of nutrients highly susceptible to heat, and for this reason, their loss from food is very likely to be slowed down through refrigeration.
Can you Eat too Many Carrots?
Carrots are generally considered safe to eat, but may have adverse effects in some people.
Eating too much carotene can cause the skin to become a little yellow or orange, which is harmless.
People who are taking medications derived from vitamin A, such as isotretinoin (Roaccutane) for acne or acitretin for psoriasis, should avoid eating large amounts of carrots, as they could lead to hypervitaminosis A, an overdose of vitamin A.
Anyone who is starting a new medication should check with their doctor about any recommended dietary changes.
Carrots may cause allergic reactions in some people who are allergic to pollens. Carrots grown in contaminated soils may contain higher amounts of heavy metals, affecting their safety and quality.
Carrots are the perfect snack, crunchy, full of nutrients, low in calories, and taste sweet.
....making effort to "STAY WELL"