Twenty Health Benefits of Carrots
Love them or hate them carrots have a great number of heath giving properties. This versatile vegetable can be used in a range of ways, they can be served raw grated into salads or as crudities, roasted boiled or stir fried and also used in a wide range of recipes including cakes, curries, juices and smoothies, stews, soups and even to make vegetables burgers that are perfect for vegetarians and vegans.
As well as the well-known orange variety carrots can also be found in other colours including purple, black and white and it is thought that in fact the first carrots where in fact purple or white in colour and that the popular orange varieties where not bred until the 16th century. Cultivation of the carrot is believed to have first started in Afghanistan around the 900s before later spreading to Spain in the 1100s and then Europe in the early 1600s. Early on carrots where used for their health benefits more than as a food source but over time this information and practice has become lost and forgotten. The popularity of today’s orange carrot is believed to be due to the fact that they were carefully selected to be bred that way buy Dutch growers due to the fact that orange is the Dutch national colour and royal family’s house colour.
Carrot Colours and Health
Orange carrots contain beta carotene and some alpha-carotene. The body is able to convert the beta carotene into vitamin A to be used by the body.
Yellow carrots contain a pigment similar to beta carotene called xanthophylls. This can be used by the body to fight macular degeneration and may help prevent tumours.
Like tomatoes red carrots contain lycopene which is known to be useful in fighting heart disease and cancers. Lycopene is also a form of carotene.
Purple carrots are coloured by a different pigment known as anthocyanins. This is a powerful antioxidant and may help slow blood clotting in those suffering with heart disease.
Cultivation of Carrots
Carrots are widely cultivated and are a popular vegetable for vegetable plots and allotments but can also be found growing wild in some areas. The cultivated carrot is the second most popular vegetable in the world, with the potato being first. Carrots can be grown from seed reasonably easily but require deep stone free soil in order to form their long roots. There are some shorter, baby and globe varieties of carrot seeds available to buy that are also ideal for growing in containers which means that even if you do not have a garden you can still have a go at growing your own delicious carrots.
Carrot and Coriander Soup
1 lb carrots, chopped.
1 small onion, finely chopped.
1 garlic clove, crushed.
3 ½ cups of vegetable stock.
Large bunch of coriander, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil.
Salt and pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in large saucepan. Add the chopped onion, garlic and carrots and cook gently for ten minutes.
2. Stir in the coriander and cook for one minute.
3. Add three quarters of the vegetable stock, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
4. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Stir in the remaining vegetable stock.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Twenty Health Benefits of Carrots
1) Thanks to the high levels of beta carotene in carrots, they really do help you see in the dark. The beta carotene is converted to vitamin A by the liver which is then used by the body to create rhodopsin, a pigment necessary for night vision.
2) Various studies have shown that eating carrots can help reduce the risk of developing lung, breast or colon cancer. This is believed to be due to that fact that carrots contain the natural pesticides falcarinol and falcarindol.
3) Carrots contain high levels of beta carotene which acts as an antioxidant. This can help slow down the aging of cells in the body and also protect the skin from sun damage, wrinkling, acne, drying out and uneven skin tone.
4) Grated and mixed with honey carrots can be used as a face mask to improve skin health.
5) Regular consumption of carrots can help to lower cholesterol levels.
6) Eating a diet that is high in carotenoids has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
7) Carrots help to cleanse the body in two ways: Vitamin A assists the body in flushing out toxins and reduces levels of bile and fat in the liver and the fibre present in carrots helps to clean out the colon and speed up waste removal.
8) Eating raw carrots can help keep your teeth clean and plaque free. Crunching the hard vegetable scraps plaque and food particles from the teeth and stops them from causing bacteria build up and decay.
9) Research carried out at Harvard University found that people who ate more than six carrots a week where less likely to suffer a stroke.
10) Carrots are a rich source of potassium which can help to relax blood vessels and arteries. This increases blood flow around the body and boosts organ function. Because of this carrots can help in cases of high blood pressure which in turn lessen the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
11) Carrots are a good source of vitamin C, which stimulates the activity of white blood cells and helps to boost the immune system.
12) Consuming beta carotene is believed to lower the risk of macular degeneration by as much as 40%.
13) Carrots stimulate the gums and the production of excess saliva. Saliva helps to combat the bacteria and trapped food particles that can lead to cavities, bad breath and other oral health problems.
14) The carotenoids present in carrots help to lower blood sugar and regulate the amount of insulin and glucose that is being used by the body.
15) Carrot juice is beneficial for stomach and gastrointestinal health.
16) Carrots are a rich source of vitamins B, C and E as well as vitamin A, copper, folic acid, thiamine and magnesium.
17) Carrots contain vitamin K which enables blood to be able to clot and contributes to bone strength and kidney health.
18) Internal organs are surrounded by tissues known as epithelial tissues, which are susceptible to cancerous growths. Beta carotene helps to maintain good epithelial tissue health.
19) Carrots can be enjoyed in a variety of recipes types so are an idea vegetable for restricted eaters as they are easily hidden in juices, cakes and purées or sauces.
20) Raw grated carrot can be used to help heal wounds and cuts and reduce inflammation.
© 2014 Claire