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Carrots Nutritional Heroes

Carrots Nutritional Heroes

A Goldmine of Nutrients

Carrots are nutritional heroes - they store a gold mine of nutrients. No other vegetable or fruit contains as much carotene as carrots, which the body converts to vitamin A.

Carrots are some of the best things you can munch on for a snack.

Leading Source of Beta Carotene

Slicing Carrots In the American diet, carrots are the leading source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into the active form of vitamin A as needed. Vitamin A is important for its role in promoting vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and cell differentiation.

Carrots are also a good source of fiber. One-half cup of steamed carrot slices contains 35 calories, 9610mcg of beta-carotene, 2-1/2 grams of fiber, 5-1/2mg of vitamin C and 250mg of potassium.

This is a truly versatile vegetable and an excellent source of calcium pectate, an extraordinary pectin fiber that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties. The carrot is an herbaceous plant containing about 87 percent water, rich in mineral salts and vitamins B, C, D, and E.

Raw carrots are also an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium; they contain vitamin B6, thiamin, folic acid, and magnesium.

Cooked carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of potassium, and contain vitamin B6, copper, folic acid, and magnesium. The high level of beta-carotene is very important and gives carrots their distinctive orange color.

Carrots also contain, in smaller amounts, essential oils, carbohydrates and nitrogenous composites. They are well-known for their sweetening, anti anaemic, healing, diuretic, remineralizing and sedative properties.

Nutritionally, eating carrots raw is fine, but cooking them until they are crisp-tender makes the nutrients more available. This is because carrots have a tough cellular wall that is difficult for the digestive system to break down.

Carrots Aid Detox

Fresh carrots help protect the body

Carrots help protect the body from cellular damage. Carrots seem to cleanse the body of heavy metals, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, and promote cardiovascular health.

Carrot Companions

The best "go-with" seasonings for carrots are: Cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary and sage.

Carrots are a wonderful addition to comfort foods such as soups and stews, stuffing, meatloaf, casseroles or salads. For an easy flavorful dish, try adding lemon juice, honey, orange juice, a bit of brown sugar or dried fruits to steamed carrots.

In order to assimilate the greatest quantity of the nutrients present in carrots, it is important to chew them well -- they are the exception to the rule -- they are more nutritious cooked than raw, except when juiced. Cooking partially dissolves cellulose-thickened cell walls, freeing up nutrients by breaking down the cell membranes.

Carrots are one of the best sources of carotene which is a strong antioxidant. But carrots also contain other phenolic compounds that are antioxidants. Many people do not realize that numerous phenolic compounds are located in the skin of fruit and vegetables, many of which are removed by peeling prior to processing.

Nutrition Nibble: If you eat carrots and tomatoes together, the lycopene in the tomatoes will enhance the body's absorption and utilization of beta-carotene.

Storing Carrots

Carrots should not be stored near apples, pears or other ethylene gas producing produce, as this gas will cause carrots to develop a bitter flavor.

Chef's Tips

  • If fresh, whole carrots (even baby ones) clog your blender, try supermarket preshredded julienne carrots. Blend 1/2-cup with 1-cup of orange juice and you get a serving of fruit and a vegetable all in one!
  • If carrots get over-cooked, mash them well and serve with butter or use it as a batter for preparing cutlets.

Noteable Notes

  • Eating too many carrots can cause the skin to turn yellow because of their rich orange-yellow pigment, but this condition is completely harmless. The skin will return to normal within a few weeks after reducing carrot consumption.
  • Carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable, with the exception of beets. Mature carrots are often sweeter than young carrots with the sweetest part of the carrot being closest to the outer layers.
  • Carotenoids, the yellow and orange pigments found in fruits and vegetables are named after carrots, the vegetable in which they were first identified.

Baby Carrots & "White Blush"

Baby carrots are not as nutritious as full whole carrots, because a lot of the goodness in carrots is contained in the skin and just below it. This is removed in the baby carrot making process.

Baby Carrots Mini carrots are a great way to eat more vegetables; keep them handy for snacking or cook them for a side dish. Some worry about the white patches that can develop in bagged baby carrots. Don't worry about the "white blush"; it is safe, doesn't affect taste and is not a sign the carrots are bad.

The reason for "white blush" is that most "baby carrots" are not young carrots; they're simply cut from full size carrots that are too twisted or knobby to be appealing and then made to look mini. After that, they are washed and rinsed in a chlorine solution, as are other ready-to-eat vegetables, even bagged salads. So why the white blush? It's from abrasion and loss of moisture from the cutting and peeling.

Some finished baby carrots are washed, or dipped, by a further chlorine solution to prevent white blushing once in the store. Organic growers use a citrus based non toxic solution called Citrox, the natural alternative to synthetic biocides for the decontamination of fresh produce, food and beverages.

Note on baby carrots: True "baby carrots" have an intact peel and a characteristic "shoulder" on the top of each carrot.

Sweet Baby Carrots Quick Recipe

Roast baby carrots until golden and tender before drizzling with a little honey and sprinkling with an almond dukkah (blend of roasted nuts, spices and seeds) made with toasted almonds, fennel and cumin seeds.

"Sow Carrots in your Gardens, and humbly praise God for them, as for a singular and great blessing." --Richard Gardiner (1599)

Lite Carrot Cake Recipe

Slice of carrot cake 1 cup cake flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour one 9x13 inch pan or two 9 inch round cake pans. Separate eggs and beat egg whites until frothy, then continue whipping and gradually add 1/2 cup of the white sugar. Beat until stiff.

In a large bowl combine; the cake flour, wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, mix until blended. Add the oil and the buttermilk and mix well. Add the egg yolks and mix well. Fold in the egg whites and then the carrots. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite Cream Cheese frosting using light cream cheese. Yield: 24 servings

Nutrition per serving: Calories: 132; Total Fat: 3.9g; Cholesterol: 27mg; Sodium: 94mg; Total Carbohydrates: 22.6g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Protein: 2.3g

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