When it comes to carrots, most of us think about what our moms told us as kids, “eat your carrots because they’re good for your eyes.” While mothers are usually right, there are other reasons to include this root vegetable in our diets. Let me start with a little carrot history!
The carrot originated in Afghanistan over 2000 years ago and people around the world have been eating them ever since. They are usually orange in color, though purple, white, red and yellow varieties also exist. Despite the fact that most people discard them, the green leaves are edible as well.
Carrots are known for the beta-carotene they contain, which gives them their deep orange color. Over the past 25 years, Agriculture Research Scientists have bred carrots in a way that provides us with more vitamins and beta-carotenes, making them more nutritious today than they were years ago. Our bodies can then covert beta-carotenes to active vitamin A, which is beneficial in preventing eye disorders and blindness.
But carrots are not only good for our eyes. The vitamin A that we obtain from carrots helps to maintain our body linings and skin, build our immune defences, and is necessary for normal development of cells. Vitamin A is also of critical importance for reproduction. The cholesterol lowering benefits of carrots comes from the soluble fiber they contain. According to a 2008 study, people who ate ¼ cup of carrots in their weekly diets, showed significant decreases in their risk for cardiovascular disease as opposed to those who did not. Carrots are one of only a few vegetables that contain the compound falcarinol, a natural pesticide which protects them from fungal diseases. Preliminary research in rats suggests that this compound could have a protective effect against certain types of cancers.
The best part is that you don’t have to eat a ton of carrots to reap the benefits! In fact, you need very few. By simply adding carrots on a salad or as a side dish a couple times a week, it is easy to get all of their health-promoting properties.
According to the USDAs National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, ½ of a cup of carrots contains:
1.8 grams of fiber
21 mg of calcium
205 mg of potassium
3.8 mg of Vitamin C
10692 IU of Vitamin A
A source of B Vitamins
Carrots are relatively inexpensive and are an easy addition to any diet. They can be steamed to retain all of their vitamins, added raw to your favorite salad or pasta dish, or eaten plain as a snack! One of my favorite ways to prepare them is to grill them. Check out this simple recipe and give them a try.Ingredients: Carrots Olive oil Salt/pepper to taste Tin foil Directions: 1. Cut carrots in thin strips (julienne style) 2. Lightly, evenly coat with olive oil 3. Season with salt and pepper for taste 4. Wrap carrots in foil and place on grill 5. Cook them for 10-15 minutes until tender but firm with a nice golden brown color Click HERE to view our video on making these grilled carrots