Our vegetable of the week is Carrots.
It’s time to learn about the health benefits of carrots!
It’s no wonder that carrots are one of the top ten most purchased and consumed vegetable in the US. What’s not to love about the sweet crunch of carrots. Or an even sweeter taste of cooked carrots. Oven roasted and drizzled with a touch of honey! Oh my YUM!!! They are considered a SUPERFOOD for good reason. They are loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Yes, they have a slightly higher carb (6g) and sugar content (3g) but it has been shown to not spike your blood sugar, mostly due to the fiber content. (2g)
Did you know that originally carrots were NOT orange? They were actually yellow, purple or white. It wasn’t until the 17th century when the Dutch cultivated a carrot rich in beta carotene and thus the orange carrot was born! The other carrot colors were set aside in favor of the more “fashionable” orange carrots. Nowadays, we are seeing the traditional, heirloom carrot colors making a comeback! I personally grew white, purple, red and yellow carrots on my garden this past year. I have even seen them available in grocery stores.
A medium sized carrot has 25 calories or 3oz of baby carrots have 35 calories. Carrots are a great weight loss friendly food. And these are 25 nutrient dense calories! If you are trying to lose weight and are reducing calories, you want to consume nutrient dense foods to provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep you healthy and full of energy.
Think of it like this… 20 calories of Cheetos (what, is that like 2 Cheetos?!?! Who even eats only 2 Cheetos!?! LOL) Anyways, 20 calories of Cheetos is not the same as 20 calories of carrots. While foods like Cheetos are super yummy, they don’t provide many, if any nutrients to fuel our bodies and protect it from diseases. I promise you, you would NOT feel satisfied with just 20 calories of Cheetos either!
But…. You would feel more satisfied and way FULLER after eating a cup of carrots. Carrots can help you fill your plate and still lose weight!
So, let’s jump into the health benefits of carrots and the magic that fills them!
Eating just 1 medium sized carrot provides over 200% of the RDA for vitamin A. WOW! Eating vitamin A rich foods like carrots has been linked to a decrease of certain cancers like lung, bladder, breast and ovarian cancer. Vitamin A is vital for both sperm and egg development and has been shown to improve both the male and females’ reproductive systems. Eating more vitamin A rich foods can help improve your night vision and has been shown to help prevent age related vision loss. You can read more about the benefits of vitamin A here.
Carrots are a powerhouse when it comes to several antioxidants! Orange carrots are rich in beta carotene. Our bodies actually convert beta carotene into vitamin A so that is partly why orange carrots are so rich in vitamin A. Beta carotene is great for eye health and helps boost our immune system. Cooking the carrots improves our body’s ability to absorb the beta carotene more readily. Also, eating a healthy fat, with cooked carrots helps to absorb even more beta carotene. You could simply drizzle with olive oil before oven roasting. You can read more details about the amazing benefits of antioxidants here.
Carrots are rich in lutein which has been shown to improve eye health. Red and purple carrots are rich in lycopene which has been shown to reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. The red and purple carrots also contain a powerful antioxidant call anthocyanin. These are cancer fighting warriors! They have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and protect us from heart disease. Anthocyanins can help lower blood pressure.
Yes, the vitamins and nutrients vary with what color carrot you are eating. Try to purchase a variety of colors so you can reap the most health benefits of carrots.
Baby carrots have gotten a bad rap as of late for being washed in chlorinated water. You have to decide this for yourself, but I still eat baby carrots. Here’s why, over 98% of tap water in the USA also contains chlorine as mandated by the EPA. We have used chlorine to disinfect our water for over 100 years. It doesn’t bother me if they are rinsed in chlorinated water. I drink chlorinated water every day. I personally choose to eat and enjoy baby carrots.
Baby carrots and baby “cut” carrots are not the same. Well, kinda, they ARE both carrots. Baby carrots are carrots grown and harvested small. Baby “cut” carrots are grown larger but cut down to baby size. There’s little to no difference nutrient wise.
Can you believe all those health benefits of carrots for only 25-35 calories! That’s why they are a superfood!
How to choose the perfect carrots to maximize the health benefits of carrots
Carrots are readily available all year round, but carrots are a cool weather crop. Peak season is in spring and again in the fall here in North America.
When choosing your carrots, look for ones with the green tops attached. If the greens are a healthy vibrant green (not wilted) the carrots are fresh. Did you know you can eat the carrot greens? They are delish added to a salad or in a wrap. They have a mild carrot taste. If you are purchasing bagged carrots, avoid any that have thin, white hairs (roots) growing on the carrots. This is a sign they are not fresh. Look for carrots that are vibrant in color.
How to store, cook and prepare carrots:
Storing your carrots
Carrots can be stored up to a month in the fridge. Excess moisture leads to rot so be sure to store in paper towels or perforated plastic bags. If possible, wash just prior to use to avoid adding excess moisture.
Ways to cook and prepare carrots:
My favorite way to prepare carrots is to oven roast with a little bit of olive oil. I cook at 350* for about 30-45 minutes. The longer cook time is needed for larger carrot pieces whereas carrot coins cook faster.
Just prior to serving, drizzle with a touch of honey. My kids didn’t like carrots at all until I served them this way. DELISH!
You have so many seasoning options with oven roasted carrots. Garlic and parmesan, garlic butter, balsamic glazed, curried carrots, whatever vegetable seasoning you have on hand. ALL DELISH!
Oven roasted carrots and potatoes are a marriage made in heaven! Add in some celery for a delicious and nutritious medley.
Parmesan roasted carrot fries are on my list to try soon!
Shredded carrots can be easily added into salads and wraps.
Raw carrots are the perfect vessel for any dip or hummus.
Add carrots to your favorite soups like chicken noodle or vegetable beef.
Oh and what’s not to love about carrot muffins or carrot cake or… how about carrot cake oatmeal cookies!
What is your favorite way to eat carrot?
Be sure to share your recipes let us know in the Veggie Obsessed Facebook group!
How to grow Carrots
Now that you know the Health Benefits of Carrots, it’s time to dig into how to grow them!
Even if you don’t have a green thumb and have ZERO intention of growing your own carrots, I think it’s important that we know how our food grows and what it looks like as it grows.
Here is what carrot seeds looks like: They are very tiny and can be a challenge to germinate. Carrot seeds need consistent moisture for 14-21 days. This often means watering them 1-2 times daily. Or you can cover with a cloth to help hold in moisture but daily watering is almost always needed for successful germination.
Here are Carrot Seedlings.
Carrots are slow growing and if the fertilizer isn’t balanced, you could end up with large carrot tops but little roots. When growing, be sure to grow them using a balanced fertilizer like a 10-10-10. Carrots grow best in deeply amended, rock free soil. Weed or rocks will cause deformed carrots. There are so many varieties of carrots to grow. Even if you have hard, clay soil, there are carrot varieties that will still grow for you.
Before long you have many carrots to harvest. A small section in a garden can grow lots of carrots. They can even be grown in pots. They take about 10-12 weeks from seed germination to harvest. Once full grown, they can stay in the soil for an additional 3-4 weeks.
Now you know the Health Benefits of Carrots, will you be adding carrot to your meal plan?
Have additional ways to cook and prepare carrots? I’d love to hear all about them! Be sure to comment below or share them in our Veggie Obsessed Facebook Group!
Hey there my friend! My name is Jodie Crandall and I’m a veggie loving certified health and nutrition coach on a journey to spread the word about how amazing veggies are for our health! I am a self-proclaimed “plant-based meat eater” who has recently lost almost 50 pounds by eating more veggies!