The humble carrot, or Daucus carota subsp. Sativus is undoubtedly not to be dismissed as one of the most potent super- ingredients!
Grown beneath the earth, the common carrot houses some powerful antioxidants that can help you towards excellent health in one little orange vegetable, which we will go into shortly!
Carrots are part of the root vegetable family and are known to be the orangest orange in color, which is unique for a vegetable! However, the carrot didn’t always start this way!
They can be found in many different colors, such as purple, yellow, red, and white, with the early varieties of carrots being purple or yellow.
Why Consume Carrot In The Morning?
When it comes to digestion in the morning, consuming carrots as the first food of the day may have some increased benefits for optimum vitamin and mineral absorption in the stomach versus consuming a carrot in the evening, for instance.
When it comes to the uptake of essential vitamins and minerals, the stomach is likely to be empty first thing in the morning so will absorb everything it’s given more efficiently.
However, the carrot may be better juiced in the morning, as opposed to just eating it raw!!
Try it whizzed up with a thumbnail of ginger and a small amount of pure orange juice for a superfood shot.
What Do Carrots Contain That’s So Good For You?
It is no surprise to learn that these tiny orange powerhouses pack an awful lot of health benefits into such a small vegetable!
One serving of carrots (which is around a half-cup measure) contains approximately:
- 25 calories
- 6 grams of carbohydrates
- 2 grams of fiber
- 3 grams of sugar
- 0.5 grams of protein
Carrots have an abundance of vitamins and minerals too. The same half-cup measure can give you:
- Up to 73% RDA of vitamin A
- Uo to 9% RDA of vitamin K
- Up to 8% RDA of potassium and fiber
- Up to 5% RDA of vitamin C
- Up to 2% RDA of calcium and iron
(Data referenced From Web MD)
Carrots are also a powerhouse ingredient when it comes to containing antioxidants. With a high proportion of beta-carotene and lutein, they are a fantastic power ingredient when it comes to protecting the body
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants can be found in an abundance of certain whole foods where the compounds are naturally occurring (sometimes the natural compounds of health benefits are so large that the foods will be considered “Superfoods”).
Any foods that have a plethora of antioxidants may prevent a proportion of the damage caused by free radicals, as the antioxidants can neutralize them and reduce the severity of oxidative stress on the body’s organs.
Nutrient antioxidants are the ones that are derived from foods such as carrots and include:
- Vitamins A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Antioxidants are crucial for a well-balanced and healthy diet, as they provide those essential vitamins, minerals, and, as you can see, protection from free radicals that accumulate into oxidative stress on your organs.
Apart from the neutralization of free radicals, and abundance of antioxidants may provide other benefits for the body, such as:
- Improved memory recall
- Reduced chance of inflammatory diseases and ailments
- An improvement in the condition and clarity of your skin
- Improved sleep and more alert waking hours.
What Can A Daily Portion Of Carrots Do Specifically For My Health?
Apart from the elements mentioned above, eating carrots can help you with specific aspects of your overall health.
- They Can Help Keep Your Heart Healthy: Antioxidants are super good for your heart, as they not only protect against oxidative stress from free radicals but may also aid in repair and healing to any heart damage.
- They May Help Keep Your Blood Pressure Under Control: Carrots have a high percentage of your RDA of potassium which may help to keep your blood pressure within normal ranges.
- Carrots May Help To Keep Your Weight Balanced: Carrots have an abundance of fiber, which may help you maintain a healthy weight and, in turn, may lower your chances of developing heart disease.
- They May Help Your Eyesight: Eyesight health is one of the ultimate carrot superpowers! Carrots are incredibly rich in beta-carotene, which your body will convert into vitamin A, which keeps your eyes healthy. Paler-colored carrots also contain lutein, which is also a great compound to improve your eye health as you age.
- Carrots May Lower Your Risk Of Cancers: As we have seen, antioxidants have been proven to fight off harmful free radicals, which may lower your chances of developing cancers. Carrots contain antioxidants called carotenoids and anthocyanins, which are incredibly powerful in the antioxidant stakes.
- Carrots Can Improve Your Digestive Habits: Raw carrots have a high fiber and water content, meaning they may help in easing digestive complaints such as constipation.
- They Can Improve Your Immune System: Carrots contain an abundance of vitamin C which may help your body develops potent antibodies that protect and strengthen your immune system. Vitamin C is also necessary to properly convert iron, which is great for your red blood cell proliferation and may help to prevent seasonal ailments and infections.
- Carrots Can Support Good Bone Health: Carrots contain both calcium and vitamin K, and both of these elements are crucial for strong bones and improved bone health.
- They May Help To Control Blood Sugar Levels: The fiber present in carrots as a non-starchy vegetable can help keep blood sugar levels within more normal ranges, which is especially helpful for people who have diabetes. With an abundance of vitamin A and beta-carotene, carrots may also help to lower the risk of developing diabetes.
How To Prepare Carrots
Carrots are one of the simplest vegetables to prepare and can be used in so many ways, including some sweet treats!
They can be eaten raw or cooked, but beware that the more they are cooked, the more nutrients they will lose during the heating process, so it’s always wise to cook them to al denté and no further, to get the most nutrients per serving.
Carrot Serving Ideas
- Carrot & Ginger Soup is a heartwarmingly rich and deep soup that is great for cooler months that involves carrots, vegetable stock, seasoning, garlic, and ginger blitzed up into a smooth and soothing soup.
- Carrot & Spinach Side Salad With Pine Nuts is a super simple side salad that works perfectly with tofu dishes. It simply involves taking a peeler to a carrot or two and finely shaving them onto a bed of spinach, topped with toasted pine nuts gives the salad another dimension of crunch.
- No-Bake Carrot Cake Bites: You can try these naturally sweetened carrot cake bites with dates, carrots, walnuts, cinnamon, and coconut flour! Optional: you can add chia seeds.
- Wholemeal Carrot Breakfast Muffins- While we don’t often associate muffins with breakfast, these are the ultimate mix of savory with a touch of sweet but are light and fluffy to enjoy with eggs. Create a wholewheat muffin mix and grate up half a cup of raw carrot finely and pop into the mix, adding seasoning and a touch of cumin, and bake until light and fluffy.
All in all, carrots are indeed a super ingredient, regardless of the color you may find or grow them in!
They are full of antioxidants which can be incredibly useful to combat the damage caused by free-radical oxidative stress within the body, potentially reducing your chances of developing some life-altering conditions and diseases such as cancers and heart disease.
The high fiber content found in carrots can be incredibly helpful for those who suffer from digestive complaints such as constipation and may help reduce blood sugar levels in those who have diabetes or those who have blood sugar fluctuations.
And let’s be honest, carrots taste great! They have a perfect sweet and savory balance and can be prepared raw or cooked and is one of the most versatile ingredients you will find in any kitchen. They are supported in soups, stews, salads, and sweet dishes such as muffins and carrot cake.
Be mindful of the number of carrots you eat, as there is a truth too much of a good thing! Eating too many carrots can make your skin tinge a little bit yellow due to the amount of beta-carotene in them, so make sure you don’t consume too much!
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