carrots

Carrots Health Benefits

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All fruit and veg contain antioxidant compounds needed to protect and repair cell damage caused by free radicals.

The common carrot is among the very best antioxidant rich foods you can eat, and provide significant cardiovascular and cancer fighting benefits.

As well as the antioxidant nutrient ‘beta-carotene’ that this vegetable is best known for, it contains a whole host of other health promoting antioxidants.

Carrots are one of the most accessible, inexpensive and nutrient packed vegetables available today and justify their place as a top 10 vegetable. Just one medium carrot provides you with over 200% of your recommended allowance of vitamin A.

Carrots are a great source of dietary fiber and potassium required for a healthy heart, immune boosting vitamin C, and bone building vitamin K. They also contain good quantities of B vitamins, folate and manganese.

Background

Carrots are a root vegetable which means the piece you eat grows in the ground, similar to potatoes, turnips and parsnips.

There are more than 100 different types that come in a variety of sizes and colors including white, yellow, red and purple.

The yellow and orange varieties that most people are more familiar with have only been cultivated since the 15th century.

Carrots are grown all over the world and are one of the easiest vegetables to add to your garden.

They can grow in a range of temperatures and are best suited for sandy soils that are rich in organic matter.

They taste delicious, are full of vital nutrients, and can be added to either hot or cold dishes.

Health Benefits

Can Help Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Recent studies form Holland have shown that greater consumption of carrots can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular related conditions such as heart attack and strokes.

Carrots are packed with a number of different antioxidants that work to protect our arteries from the build-up of plaque.

It is this plaque that sticks to the artery walls and causes them to narrow and prevent good blood flow. If a blood clot is formed then it could stop the blood flow and cause a heart attack or stroke.

This exciting new study from Holland clearly highlights carrots as the single most beneficial food you can eat in regards to the amount of antioxidants they contain and their ability to reduce cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease is the single biggest killer in the US and western cultures. Including carrots in your daily diet has shown to significantly reduce this risk. This fact alone should be enough for you to start eating more carrots!

Cancer Prevention

Research conducted on humans has shown that the antioxidant compounds in carrots – particularly the compound falcarinol, can significantly reduce cancer cell growth in the colon.

Falcarinol is a natural pesticide found in carrots that protects them from various fungal diseases. Studies involving participants drinking fresh carrot juice every day showed a small but an important effect on colon cell health.

These findings are not surprising considering the fiber content and antioxidant rich nutrients carrots contain in supporting the digestive system and colon.

Improved Eyesight

It is not just an ‘old wives tales’ that eating carrots help you to see in the dark.

If you are like most people, you were told to eat your carrots at a young age so you could have healthy eyesight. Believe it or not, this was not a ploy to get you to eat your vegetables.

The vitamin A contained in carrots is essential to the health of your retina. Lack of this vitamin in your diet can lead to poor vision and even night blindness.

The liver creates vitamin A from the beta-carotene in the carrots. This is then turned into a purple pigment called rhodopsin, a needed component for your night vision. Not to mention, beta-carotene protects against senile cataracts and macular degeneration.

Good for your Teeth

Don’t have time to brush your teeth after a meal? Grab a carrot to head out the door with you. This beneficial vegetable actually cleans your teeth while you eat it.

Carrots stimulate gums and help eliminate food particles and plaque from teeth because they act like natural abrasives. They also trigger the production of saliva while you chew them which wash stains away.

Carrots also promote dental health because the minerals they contain kill mouth germs which could otherwise result in tooth damage.

Improved Appearance

As well as providing significant health benefits for your health, you might be interested to learn that carrots can also improve your appearance. The beta-carotene in carrots serves as an essential, anti-aging antioxidant.

These antioxidants fight cell damage that occurs in and on the body every day and helps slow down the aging process.

Carrots also help to detoxify the liver with their natural cleansing properties. This improves your skin’s appearance because toxins in the bloodstream that traditionally cause acne are removed.

Carrots can even keep you from spending money on those expensive products that even out skin tone because their vitamins and minerals address pigmentation concerns. These nutrients nourish the skin and help to prevent blemishes and dry skin conditions.

Selecting Carrots

When buying carrots you should look for ones that have the following:

  • Bright orange color
  • No blemishes or cracks on the skin
  • A strong weighty feel to them – avoid rubbery or soft texture ones

Preparing Carrots

If you have organic carrots, you don’t need to peel them. Just give them a wash and perhaps gently scrub them with a vegetable brush immediately before eating.

For non-organic carrots I recommend you wash them and then peel them. They will contain a number of chemicals such as pesticides that are used to protect them and to speed up the growing process.

The green color that is often present at the stem is quite bitter and should be cut off.

You can now cut and cook your carrots however you like. They taste delicious eaten raw and unlike other vegetables carrots don’t lose their nutrients when cooked – as long as they are not over-cooked. This is due to their high concentration of beta-carotene.

Steaming or microwaving is still the best cooking option in order to preserve the carrots’ taste and nutritional values.

Storing Carrots

Always remove any green foliage attached to them as this will deplete the carrots of nutrients and water.

Store them in the crisper section of the refrigerator but don’t wash them before doing so as the moisture will deplete their freshness. Or you could store them in a cold, dark place such as a pantry.

They should keep fresh for up to 2 weeks.

Adding Carrots to Your Diet

Even people with busy lives can easily add carrots to their daily diet. Like other fruits and vegetables, eating them in their raw state is always going to offer the most health benefits.

When you come home from grocery shopping, take 10 minutes to wash them and cut them into snack size. Carrots stay fresh for quite a while in a Tupperware container or a zip-lock bag. The more convenient they are, the more likely you are to snack on them. They should stay fresh for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.

Grab a few to eat in the car on the way to work or while you’re out walking the dog. When you get that late night rumble in your stomach, eat some carrot sticks and then see if you’re still craving those potato chips.

Carrots are very filling and make perfect snack food. Instead of unhealthy potatoes chips and sauces, try snacking on carrots and a hummus dip (which is very low in calories and carbohydrates).

If you do cook them or if you simply want to add more to your diet in addition to the raw ones that you’re consuming, they are easy to add to nearly any dish. Steam or microwave them as a side or add them to salads, soups, stews or a stir-fry.

I make a delicious carrot and coriander soup from a YouTube video recipe I found a while ago. I get a double whammy from the health benefits of carrots and coriander!

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