Naturally sweet, delicious and crunchy, carrots are healthy additions you can make to the vegetable list in your diet. Indeed, these root vegetables come with wholesome health benefiting compounds such as beta-carotenes, vitamin A, minerals and anti-oxidants in ample amounts.
Botanically these taproots belong to the Apiaceae or umbelliferous family of the genus; Daucus and known scientifically as Daucus carota. The other close Apiaceae members include parsnips, parsley, dill, cumin, etc.
carota, European type.
Note for bright orange color and
|Note for different colors!
Photo courtesy: wordridden
Carrot plant is cultivated across the world for its prized taproot. The plant is biennial and bears flowers during second year of life. However, in general, the whole plant is harvested prematurely when the root reaches about an inch in diameter, tender and juicy.
|Asian (oriental) variety.
Note for Saffron red
color and tail like
tapering lower ends.
Carrots vary widely in color and shape depending on the cultivar types. Generally, oriental taproots are long, flat upper ends with tapering, tail like, lower ends. They are winter season crops in many parts of Asia. European carrots, on the other hand, have more rounded ends with almost cylindrical body. In addition, European-variety feature bright orange color in contrast to saffron colored Asian cultivars.
Sweet and succulent carrots are notably rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and dietary fiber; however, they provide only 41 calories per 100 g, negligible amount of fat and no cholesterol.
They are exceptionally rich source of carotenes and vitamin-A. 100 g fresh carrot contains 8285 µg of beta-carotene and 16706 IU of vitamin A. Studies have found that flavonoid compounds in carrots help protect from skin, lung and oral cavity cancers.
Carotenes are converted into vitamin A in the liver. Beta-carotene is the major carotene that is present in these roots. Beta carotene is one of the powerful natural anti-oxidant helps protect body from harmful oxygen-free radical injury. In addition, it also has all the functions of vitamin A such as vision, reproduction (sperm production), maintenance of epithelial integrity, growth and development.
Carrots are rich in poly-acetylene antioxidant falcarinol. Research study conducted by scientists at University of Newcastle on laboratory animals has found that falcarinol in carrots may help fight against cancers by destroying pre-cancerous cells in the tumors.
Fresh roots are also good in vitamin C; provide about 9% of RDA. Vitamin C is water soluble anti-oxidant. It helps the body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth and gum. Its anti-oxidant property helps the body protect from diseases and cancers by scavenging harmful free radicals.
In addition, this root vegetable is especially rich in many B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, pantothenic acid, etc., that acts as co-factors to enzymes during substrate metabolism in the body.
Further, They also compose healthy levels of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.24 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.8 g||7%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.273 mg||5.5%|
|Vitamin A||16706 IU||557%|
|Vitamin C||5.9 mg||10%|
|Vitamin K||13.2 µg||11%|
|Fresh carrots and green bell peppers in a
Fresh carrots are available in the markets around the season. While buying, look for young, tender, bright-colored roots with firm consistency. Avoid soft, flabby roots, with cuts or mold. Furthermore, avoid very large-sized roots as they indicate over maturity; resulting in their poor eating quality.
light exposure of the root aboveground level would result in greenish
discoloration near the top end due to chlorophyll photo-pigment
deposition. Although this may not affect health badly, however, it
depletes sweet taste of the roots. Forking or twisted carrots may be
the indication of either disease infestation or close crop cultivation.
Once at home, wash them thoroughly in water to remove dust, soil, or insecticide/fungicides. Generally, the top greens are trimmed from the root and stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator where they keep well for 1-2 weeks. Set refrigerator temperature level below 35 degree F and high humidity to maintain vitality.
Wash carrots thoroughly before use. Trim both ends; gently scrape off outer skin and smaller hairy roots. The younger roots have crispy, pleasant taste, and rich flavor. Raw carrots are naturally sweet and juicy; however, boiling them in water for few minutes enriches their flavor and enhances the bioavailability of nutrients.
Here are some serving tips:
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