From Danvers and Nantes to Imperator and Chantenay, there are a vast number of unique carrot varieties to try and countless ways to use them, too. Purée them into a thick soup. Eat them raw for a snack. Steam, glaze, can or pickle them. Carrots are an extremely versatile vegetable for your culinary endeavors, and they have the nutritional value to match. Incorporate carrots into your weekly meal prep or go-to snack list and gain a nutritional boost in the following areas.
Antioxidants are a unique type of nutrient that stabilizes free radicals, substances that damage cells and may cause cancer. Antioxidants typically come from a wide range of veggies, and carrots are no exception! Specifically, carrots contain beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopenes, polyacetylenes, and anthocyanins. The exact amounts of each kind may differ from one carrot variety to the next as antioxidants are generally linked to a vegetable’s color. For instance, purple carrots contain more anthocyanin, while red carrots offer more lycopene.
Vitamin A deficiency is linked to xerophthalmia, an umbrella term for ocular diseases, including dryness, retinal damage, and even blindness. Thankfully, carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, with about 509 micrograms per medium-sized raw carrot. Plus, the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may play a role in preventing macular degeneration, a disorder of vision loss due to age.
Low On The Glycemic Index
Carrots make a sweet and healthy snack for everyone, especially for those with diabetes. The two main components of carrots are water and carbs, yet carrots rank very low on the glycemic index, anywhere from 16 to 60. In other words, the starches and sugars in carrots are slow to digest and therefore raise your blood sugar levels at a slower rate.
A medium-sized carrot contains about 2 grams of fiber and about 86% to 95% water. Water and insoluble fiber aid with digestion and help resolve constipation. Plus, the soluble fiber in carrots slows down the digestion of sugar, further moderating blood sugar levels for those with diabetes. Soluble fiber also supports healthy gut bacteria and prevents cholesterol absorption, potentially lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Good Source of Vitamins & Minerals
Aside from vitamin A, carrots contain significant amounts of other vitamins and minerals. Each of these micronutrients poses unique nutritional benefits.
- Vitamin B – Biotin aids in the metabolism of fat and protein, while B6 helps process food molecules into usable energy.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a crucial substance for immune cells, helping to prevent sickness and manage stress. It also plays a role in collagen production, which keeps your skin healthy and promotes wound healing.
- Vitamin K – K1 plays a role in blood coagulation, the process in which blood clots are formed.
- Potassium – Potassium regulates blood pressure and helps nerves and muscles to operate correctly.
- Calcium and Phosphorus – These minerals show up in trace amounts in carrots, but they are critical players in keeping bones strong and preventing osteoporosis.
Carrots are a surprisingly powerful superfood for a strangely colored tuber that comes out of the ground. Don’t just shop for them at your grocery store, either. You can find a refreshing variety of carrots in all sizes and colors at your local farmer’s market. Or, try growing them yourself in indoor containers or an outdoor garden. Given all these unique nutritional benefits, you can never have too many carrots and should always include them as a staple in your diet!