Benefits of Including Carrots in the Diet
The benefits of including carrots in the diet have been known since ancient Greece, and they were consumed as a food or as a medicine.
In ancient times, the carrot, Daucus carota, was grown for its leaves and aromatic seeds, not its root. In the first century of our era, the root was first mentioned in classical sources.
Carrot is the common name of this plant that originated in Eurasia and North Africa and is widely distributed throughout the warm regions of the northern hemisphere.
Because of its high content of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, it is considered a very healthy food.
Nutritional Value of Carrots
Of every 100 grams of carrot, almost 90 grams are water, 7 grams are carbohydrates, nearly 1 gram is vegetable protein, practically 0 grams is fat, less than 3 grams are fiber and only provides 40 calories.
The most remarkable aspect of this food from a nutritional point of view is its vitamin A content, as an average-sized carrot covers 90% of the daily requirement of this vitamin for men aged 20 to 40 and 110% for women of the same age.
Carrots are an exceptionally rich source of carotenes, responsible for their characteristic color, as 100 grams of fresh carrots contain about 8,000 micrograms. Carotenes are precursors of vitamin A. Therefore, they also favor the skin, mucous membrane, and eye care.
The carotenoids have provitamin A activity, which, once in the body, in the liver are transformed into vitamin A, necessary for the proper functioning of the retina and especially for night vision or low light, and the healthy condition of the skin and mucous membranes.
Its most abundant form is beta carotene. Some studies have attributed a defensive role against diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration, given its antioxidant and immune response modulating capacity.
Another carotenoid, lutein, is located in the eye’s retina and lens and can prevent light-induced oxidative damage and thus protect against age-related deterioration such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
It is involved in all vitamin A functions, such as reproduction in sperm production, maintenance of epithelial integrity, growth, and development.
One 1/2 cup serving of cooked carrots has four times the recommended daily amount of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.
This root is especially rich in vitamin B complex groups, such as folic acid, vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine, thiamine, and pantothenic acid.
Fresh carrots also contain vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant. It helps our body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth, and gums.
Carrots also provide healthy levels of minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Potassium is an essential component of cell and body fluids that help control heart rate and blood pressure by counteracting sodium effects.
Our body uses manganese as a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Carrots are rich in antioxidant polyacetylene-falcarinol. In research conducted on laboratory animals, it was found that the falcarinol in carrots could help in the fight against cancer by destroying pre-cancerous cells in tumors.
Carrots for People with Diabetes
Vegetables are generally suitable for people with diabetes. Most of them do not cause any problems, except those with a high glycemic index. And the carrot, depending on how it’s eaten, could be one of them.
People with diabetes should eat carrots, preferably raw. They have a low glycemic index because they contain complex carbohydrates that need to be digested to become simple sugars.
Therefore, the carbohydrates in raw carrots are slowly absorbed and do not cause hyperglycemia.
In cooked carrots, simple sugars’ content is higher because, during cooking, the complex carbohydrate chains have been broken.
In this case, it is not recommended for people with diabetes because simple carbohydrates are absorbed directly without the need for digestion and quickly raise glycemia in a short period.
In cooked carrot, the glycemic index is 85, that is, a very high number for diabetics, and of course, it should not be consumed.
In contrast, raw carrots have a glycemic index of 30, which is acceptable and can be consumed in moderate amounts. This is noticeable in the taste, as cooked carrots are sweeter than raw.
In all cases, it is much better to consume vegetables raw than cooked, not only because of the glycemic index but because when cooked, they lose a lot of their nutritional properties.
Carrot in Health
This vegetable is diuretic, that is, it speeds up the process of urinating, and also menstruation in women who present irregularities in their menstrual cycle or suffer from pre- and post-menstrual pain. It also helps the disintegration of kidney stones and the secretion of breast milk.
Carrot is a very rich source of antioxidants, substances that protect against free radical damage, premature aging, and cardiovascular health.
It serves to delay skin aging and the appearance of wrinkles, as it is a natural sunscreen.
On the other hand, the fiber it contains decreases intestinal absorption of cholesterol and triglycerides, and its richness in potassium and antioxidant vitamins helps maintain healthy arteries and blood vessels.
Carrot in Our Kitchen
We can eat it raw, grated in salads and cold dishes, in vegetable purees, in stews, in the oven, or as a carrot extract.
Its price is accessible, and it is easy to find in season. Because of the aromatic substances, the carrot is very good for stimulating the appetite.
When consumed as an extract, it should be blended to avoid losing the fiber. This juice mixed with honey and lemon juice is great for relieving respiratory diseases, chest conditions, asthma, and bronchial colds.
Other Benefits of Carrot
Carrot is an activator of tanning, especially thanks to its provitamin A composition, which is why many tanning oils now use carrot extract as their main ingredient, and it is useful for protecting against the effects of ultraviolet rays.
It can also be used to prepare masks, which help reduce wrinkles and give the skin a more youthful appearance.
Recipes for Including Carrot in Our Diet
Carrot and Cabbage Salad
2 cups of cabbage cut into strips
1 medium-size carrot, grated
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 sweetener sachet
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 chopped cilantro leaf
1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil
- Mix the ingredients and stir them well.
Carrot Soup with Chicken Breast
2 pounds of carrots
2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion, chopped
3 cups of defatted, unsalted chicken broth
1/2 pound boiled chicken breast
- Wash the carrots and cut them into small pieces after removing the tips and crowns.
- Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add the onion until transparent.
- Add the garlic cloves and the chicken breast cut into pieces. Mix and stir for 2 minutes
- Add the vegetable broth. When it boils, add the carrot.
- Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and serve piping hot.
Carrots and Pumpkin Cream
1 pound of pumpkin
- Peel the carrots and chop the pumpkin.
- Put both of them in a pan of water with salt until they are ready.
- Puree and strain the carrots together with the pumpkin until you get a homogeneous mixture.
- Add the Parmesan cheese on top to taste and ready to enjoy.
- Chopped parsley can be added to add flavor and improve the presentation.
Carrot Cream with Honey
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
6 chopped carrots
3 cups of chicken broth
4 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil
- Fry the onion, garlic, and chopped carrot in a pot with the butter over medium-high heat.
- After 3 minutes, add the honey and cook until it takes on a slightly dark color.
- Add the chicken broth and thyme.
- Cook for 20 minutes or until the carrot is soft.
- Blend to a smooth consistency, strain through a fine sieve and cook the cream for another 3 minutes.
- Serve and decorate with a dash of virgin olive oil.
Carrot, Broccoli and Pear Juice
1 peeled carrot
4 broccoli florets
1 cup of cold water
- Place the carrot, pear, and broccoli in the juice extractor.
- Add the water to mix with the juice.