What’s in Season: Carrots

A long time favorite of the beloved Bugs Bunny, carrots are emblematic of fall and winter.  Root vegetables are particularly in-season during cold weather, as they are protected by the earth from the colder temperatures.  As you may already know, brightly colored vegetables are particularly healthy, as they tend to contain lots of wonderful nutrients that do a body good.  Further, because of their sweet taste, carrots are loved by all ages!

Health Benefits

  1. I Spy with My Little Eye: We had an optometrist in our family who would always discourage eating carrots…he felt that they would put him out of business!  Carrots are high in beta-carotene which helps to protect vision, especially night vision, as well as provides protection against macular degeneration and senile cataracts.
  2. Heart Protection: Carrots are very high in carotenoids, a type of antioxidant.  Studies have shown that diets high in carotenoids showed reduced risk of heart disease.
  3. Cancer Prevention: Also, because of their high antioxidant content, carrots are helpful in reducing risk for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer among others.
  4. Healthy Lungs: Diets deficient in Vitamin-A are said to potentially increase chances of emphysema…especially in those who smoke, or who are often exposed to second-hand smoke.  Cigarette smoke contains benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogen, which tends to cause vitamin A deficiency.  Eating carrots, however, boosts your Vitamin A intake which can help ward off lung disease.
  5. Blood Sugar Stabilization: Studies show that intake of carotenoid rich foods may be inversely associated with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels.
  6. Colon and Digestive Health: Because of their high fiber content, carrots help promote regularity.  Further, because they contain a phytonutrient called falcarinol, which may be beneficial in reducing the risk of colon cancer.

And for the Trivia Fanatics…

  1. Carrots are part of the parsley family, which also includes celery, parsnip, fennel, dill and coriander.
  2. Carrots were first grown for medicinal purposes, not for food.
  3. Carrots can be found in other colors then orange: purple, white, red or yellow.
  4. Carrots have one of  the highest content of beta carotene (vitamin A) of all vegetables.
  5. Carrots were the first vegetable to be commercially canned.

Ways to Enjoy Carrots

  1. Soups: Carrots are a strong vegetable which makes it hold up in soups and stocks.
  2. Salads: Raw carrots provide a great flavor and crunch to salads.
  3. Muffins and Breads: They provide a natural sweetness which helps you to cut down on the sugar required during baking.
  4. Snacks: Dip raw carrots into hummus or yogurt dips to have a balanced, nutritious snack.
  5. Side: Steam carrots to create a healthy side-dish with dinner or lunch.
  6. Smoothies: Mix with spinach, tomato juice and cucumber to get a delicious veggie smoothie, rich in vitamins and minerals.

How do you eat carrots?  Are you getting a healthy dose a day?

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