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Carrots nutrition facts

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.



carrots colorful carrots
Carrots-Daucus carota, European type.
Note for bright orange color and
cylindrical shape.
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.

carrot-oriental
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.


Health benefits of carrots

  • 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.




See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Carrots (Daucus carota), Fresh, raw,
Nutrition value per 100 g. Total-ORAC value 666 umol TE/100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 41 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 9.58 g 7%
Protein 0.93 g 1.5%
Total Fat 0.24 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g 7%
Vitamins
Folates 19 µg 5%
Niacin 0.983 mg 6%
Pantothenic acid 0.273 mg 5.5%
Pyridoxine 0.138 mg 10%
Riboflavin 0.058 mg 4%
Thiamin 0.066 mg 6%
Vitamin A 16706 IU 557%
Vitamin C 5.9 mg 10%
Vitamin K 13.2 µg 11%
Electrolytes
Sodium 69 mg 4.5%
Potassium 320 mg 6.5%
Minerals
Calcium 33 mg 3%
Copper 0.045 mg 5%
Iron 0.30 mg 4%
Magnesium 12 mg 3%
Manganese 0.143 mg 6%
Phosphorus 35 mg 5%
Selenium 0.1 µg <1%
Zinc 0.24 mg 2%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-α 3427 µg --
Carotene-ß 8285 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 256 µg --

Selection and storage

carrots and green bell peppers in a market
Fresh carrots and green bell peppers in a market.

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.

Excessive sun 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.


Preparation and serving methods

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:

  • Fresh carrots can be enjoyed as they are, or can be used raw in vegetable as well as fruit salads.

  • Slices mixed with other root vegetables like radish, beets, tomato, kohlrabi or with greens in mixed salads.

  • Carrot juice is a refreshing drink, enjoyed either alone or with fruit juice.

  • Carrots blend well with vegetables like green beans, potatopeas in variety of recipes either stewed, in curry, stir fries, etc.

  • In South Asia, delicious sweet dish, "gaajar ka halwa," is prepared using grated carrot, almonds, cashews, pistachio, butter, sugar, and milk.

  • The root is also used in the preparation of cakes, tart, pudding, soups, borscht, etc.

  • They are also used in the preparation of healthy baby-foods.


<<-Back to Vegetable Nutrition from CarrotsPlease visit here for an impressive list of vegetables with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

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Further reading:

Refer Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.