Thanks to that carrot-eating icon, Bugs Bunny, generations of children around the world  have grown up knowing that carrots are good for your health. Packed with health-promoting beta carotene, they promote good vision, especially night vision, and help combat health-damaging free radical activity. Easy to pack and easy to carry, carrots are a nutritious, low calorie addition to your Healthiest way of eating any time of day.

Nutritional Profile

Carrots are perhaps best known for their beta-carotene content. (The nutrient beta-carotene was actually named after the carrot!) While they can be an outstanding source of this phytonutrient, carrots actually contain a fascinating combination of phytonutrients, including other carotenoids (especially alpha-carotene and lutein); hydroxycinnamic acids (including caffeic, coumaric, ferulic); anthocyanins (in the case of purple and red carrots); and polyacetylenes (especially falcarinol and falcarindiol). Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). In addition, they are a very good source of biotin, vitamin K, dietary fiber, molybdenum, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They are a good source of manganese, niacin, vitamin B1, panthothenic acid, phosphorus, folate, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin B2.

Health Benefits

Carrots are perhaps best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient that was actually named for them: beta-carotene. However, these delicious root vegetables are the source not only of beta-carotene, but also of a wide variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients. The areas of antioxidant benefits, cardiovascular benefits, and anti-cancer benefits are the best-researched areas of health research with respect to dietary intake of carrots.

Excessive consumption of carotene-rich foods may lead to a condition called carotoderma in which the palms or other skin develops a yellow or orange cast.

How to Select and Store

Carrot roots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight and bright in color. The deeper the orange-color, 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 colored as this is also a sign of age. If the green tops are attached, they should be brightly colored, 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.

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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. They should be able to keep fresh for about two weeks.

Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter.

History

The carrot can trace its ancestry back thousands of years, originally having been cultivated in central Asian and Middle Eastern countries, along with parts of Europe. These original carrots looked different from those that we are accustomed to today, featuring red, purple, and yellow coloring rather than the bright orange.

In today’s commercial marketplace, China currently produces about one-third of all carrots bought and sold worldwide. Russia is the second largest carrot producer, with the U.S. following a close third. Many European countries produce substantial amounts of carrots (over 400,000 metric tons) and Turkey, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Australia and Canada are also important countries in the worldwide production of carrots.

Nutrition Chart

Carrots  sliced, raw| 1 cup | 122.00 g | Calories: 50

NUTRIENTAMOUNTDRI/DV (%)
Vitamin K16.10 mcg18
Vitamin C7.20 mg10
Vitamin A1019.07 mcg113
Vitamin E 0.81 mg5
Vitamin B10.08 mg7
Vitamin B20.07 mg 5
Vitamin B31.20 mg8
Vitamin B60.17 mg 10
Biotin6.10 mcg20
Choline10.74 mg3
Folate23.18 mcg6
Alpha-Carotene4241.94 mcg
Beta-Carotene10,107.70 mcg
Lutein and Zeaxanthin312.32 mcg
Lycopene1.22 mcg
Boron315.16 mcg0
Calcium40.26 mg 4
Chromium0.49 mcg1
Copper0.05 mg 6
Iron0.37 mg2
Magnesium14.64 mg4
Manganese0.17mg9
Molybdenum6.10 mcg14
Phosphorus42.70 mg6
Potassium390.40 mg11
Selenium0.12 mcg0
Sodium84.18 mg6
Zinc0.29 mg 3
Protein1.13 g 2
Carbohydrates11.69 g5
Fiber3.42 g 14
Omega-6 Fatty Acids0.14 g0

Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.

Preparing and Cooking with Carrots

Wash carrot roots and gently scrub them with a vegetable brush right before eating. Unless the carrots are old, thick or not grown organically, Depending upon the recipe or your personal preference, carrots can be left whole or julienned, grated, shredded or sliced into sticks or rounds.

Related: Vegetables

Carrots are delicious eaten raw or cooked. While heating can often damage some of the delicate phytonutrients in vegetables, the beta-carotene as found in carrots has been shown to be surprisingly heat-stable. In fact, carrots’ beta-carotene may become more bioavailable through well-timed steaming. Still, be careful not to overcook carrots if you want to your carrots to retain their maximum flavor and strong overall nutritional value.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking With Carrots read: Recipes.

 Source: www.whfoods.com

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