As a certified healing foods specialist, I love eating healing foods for vibrant health. This post on carrots is the first in a series of posts on my favorite superstar vegetables, fruits, spices, and herbs for helping you get more energy, strength, and immunity. I will provide information on the health benefits of my favorites and create recipes which will help you to find creative ways to include these amazing healing foods into your daily diet.
My first superstar vegetable is carrots. I love carrots because they are a nutrient-rich root vegetable that tastes great and is extremely versatile. Carrots are delicious either raw or cooked and can be used in a variety of different recipes. Carrots are reported to have potent medicinal properties. Some of these include the ability to cleanse the intestines, act as a diuretic, and remineralize the body, along with purifying and revitalizing the blood.
Carrots are best known for being high in the antioxidant beta-carotene but they also are a great source of phytochemicals, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin D, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, water, and fiber. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. Vitamin A is crucial for helping strengthen our immune system and promote healthy skin, cells, and vision. Carrots flavor is from Terpineol a phytochemical that protects our bodies from cancer and fungi.
Carrots come in a variety of colors with different health properties for each color. Many people are used to just enjoying the popular orange carrot but there are many other varieties of carrots that you should add into your diet because they each have unique health properties and flavor. You can find many of the more exotic varieties of carrots at your local farmers’ markets and they are definitely worth seeking out.
Orange Carrots—Orange carrots are a great source of both alpha-carotene and beta-carotene which are phytochemicals that function as antioxidants. Our bodies convert both alpha-carotene and beta-carotene into vitamin A which is the key to maintaining healthy cells, healthy skin, healthy eyes, well-being, and immunity. Orange carrots originate from Europe and the Middle East.
Yellow Carrots—Yellow carrots contain xanthophylls which are a phytochemical and carotenoid that are responsible for the yellow pigment. Lutein is one of the most commonly know Xanthophylls and it is found in yellow carrots. Xanthophylls function similar to beta-carotene, and help protect against macular degeneration and may help prevent some cancers. This pigment may also reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Yellow carrots originate from the Middle East.
Red Carrots—Red carrots are tinted by lycopene a pigment and carotenoid which is also found in tomatoes and watermelon. Enjoying red carrots with a healthy fat source can help increase absorption since lycopene is fat-soluble. Cooking lycopene-rich vegetables can also increase the amount of lycopene that you absorb because the cooking process frees the pigment from the cell walls of the plant. Lycopene is associated with the reduced risk of macular degeneration and serum lipid oxidation. Red carrots also help prevent heart disease and a wide variety of cancers including prostate cancer. Red carrots originate from India and China.
Purple Carrots—Purple carrots contain more beta-carotene than their orange cousins, and their purple pigment comes from anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are phytochemicals which act as powerful antioxidants which help protect the body against free radical damage along with repairing collagen. Anthocyanins also help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting and strengthening blood vessels and they have good anti-inflammatory properties. Purple carrots originate from Turkey, the Middle East, and Far East.
Black Carrots—Black carrots are also an excellent source of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) along with helping protect the arteries against oxidation. Anthocyanins also help protect us against various forms of cancer. The “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” published a study in April 2011 that investigated the anthocyanin content in four varieties of black carrots including the Antonina, Beta Sweet, Deep Purple and Purple Haze and found a range of anthocyanin levels, from 1.5 milligrams per 100 grams up to 97.9 milligrams per 100 grams. Black carrots originate from Turkey, the Middle East, and Far East.
White Carrots—White carrots are pigment-free and they contain phytochemicals that work with nutrients and dietary fiber to protect against diseases like colon cancer. The phytochemicals in white carrots can also help reduce the risk of stroke. White carrots are good for carotene allergy sufferers. White carrots originate from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
I will be posting recipes that feature some of these varieties of carrots so check back soon.
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Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry; Anthocyanin Composition of Black Carrot (Daucus Carota Ssp. Sativus Var. Atrorubens Alef.) Cultivars Antonina, Beta Sweet, Deep Purple, and Purple Haze; E.C. Montilla, et al.