What Are Carrots Good For?


Dr. Mercola

The average American adult eats about 12 pounds of carrots a year, making them one of the most popular root vegetables in the U.S. (even though that works out to only about one cup per week).

Carrots were originally grown in central Asian and Middle Eastern countries, but they were viewed as more of a medicinal herb than a food.

Early carrots (some believe they may even date back to early Egypt) were not orange. Instead, they came in a variety of colors like purple, white, red, yellow and black. The orange carrots known and loved today are the result of cross breeding red and yellow carrots, which was done back in the 16th century.1

The word “carrot” has its origins in the Greek word “karoton,” as “kar” describes anything with a horn-like shape. Many believe carrots were named after beta-carotene, which is found in abundance in this vegetable.

However, the opposite actually holds true; beta-carotene was named after carrots.2 I generally recommend eating carrots in moderation because they contain more sugar than any other vegetable aside from beets.

However, when eaten as part of an overall healthy diet, the nutrients in carrots may provide multiple health benefits, including protection against heart disease and stroke and helping to build strong bones and a healthy nervous system.

9 Top Reasons to Eat Carrots

Carrots make an excellent, crunchy go-to snack. You can eat them raw or cooked, with dip or without, and added to just about any meal you can think of.

Their slightly sweet taste and versatility are part of what make carrots so popular, but beyond this, you should strive to eat more carrots because of what they can offer your health.

How to Store and Prepare Your Carrots for Maximum Nutrition

Carrots are great to eat raw, but if you enjoy them cooked, that’s a healthy way to enjoy them as well. One study even found that cooked carrots had higher levels of beta-carotene and phenolic acids than raw carrots, and the antioxidant activity continued to increase over a period of four weeks.

Root vegetables like carrots work well when fermented, and they’re delicious when added to homemade sauerkraut alongside cabbage. You can also juice them, but do this sparingly because of the high sugar content.

Adding carrot peels to a carrot puree also boosted antioxidant levels.23 Another option is to simply eat your carrots without peeling them, as much of their nutrition lies just below the skin. It’s important to choose organic carrots, especially when eating the skin.

Consumer Reports analyzed 12 years of data from the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program to determine the risk categories (from very low to very high) for different types of produce, and carrots came back at the high end for pesticide residues. Because of this, carrots are one food you should always try to buy organic.

As for storage, keep them in the coolest part of your refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which should keep them fresh for about two weeks. Avoiding storing them near apples, pears or potatoes, as the ethylene gas they release may turn your carrots bitter.24

If you purchase carrots with the green tops still attached, they should be removed prior to storing them in the fridge (they’ll cause the carrot to wilt faster). However, don’t throw them away. Carrot tops are nutritious, too, and can easily be added to your fresh vegetable juice.

Also, you’re typically better off buying whole carrots instead of baby carrots — not only price wise but also health wise. Baby carrots, which are now one of the most popular carrot forms, were not invented until 1986 when a California carrot farmer created them to save some of the broken and misshaped carrots in his harvest.25

Baby carrots are not actually “baby” carrots at all but rather are less-than-perfect carrots that have been shaved down to a smaller size. Not only are baby carrots more expensive than whole carrots, they’re also typically given a chlorine bath to prolong shelf life.

Try This: Carrot Coconut Soup

Are you tired of eating plain carrots? Here’s another way to use carrots that will wake up your taste buds. This soup takes only about 30 minutes to make, but is packed with flavor and nutrition:

Carrot Coconut Soup26

Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. + 3 cups bone broth
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, sliced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. curry powder or turmeric
  • 2 cups sliced carrots, about 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup sweet potato, cut into about 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 oz. coconut milk
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop onion and let it sit for at least five minutes to bring out its health benefits.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp. broth in a medium soup pot. Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another minute.
  4. Add curry powder or turmeric and mix well with onions.
  5. Add broth, carrots, and sweet potato and simmer on medium high heat until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Add coconut milk.
  7. Blend in batches making sure blender is not more than half full. When it’s hot, and the blender is too full, it can erupt and burn you. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Return to soup pot and reheat.

Serves 4

Visit Our Food Facts Library for Empowering Nutrition Information

If you want to learn even more about what’s in the food you’re eating, visit our Food Facts library. Most people are not aware of the wealth of nutrients available in healthful foods, particularly organic fruits and vegetables. By getting to know your food, you can make informed decisions about how to eat healthier and thereby boost your brain function, lower your risk of chronic disease, lose weight, and much more.

Food Facts is a directory of the most highly recommended health foods to add to your wholesome diet. Its purpose is to provide you with valuable information about various types of foods including recipes to help you maximize these benefits. You’ll learn about nutrition facts, scientific studies, and even interesting trivia about each food in the Food Facts library.

Remember, knowing what’s in your food is the first step to choosing and preparing nutritious meals each and every day. So visit our Food Facts library today to get started.

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One thought on “What Are Carrots Good For?

  1. How is it that a libertarian site has a food nazi on it? I’m not even going to go into how much total BS is in this post. Paying attention to phony expert and professional busy bodies who want to tell you what to eat, how to eat, how to exercise, how to be happy or any of the other crap information, diets, etc, these people push is a waste of your time. You want to help yourself? Ignore all of them.

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