They say ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ and something similar could well be true for the humble carrot. Packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fibre and antioxidants a carrot is a pretty incredible and delicious addition to your plate. Available most of the year round it is also a readily sourced, accessibly priced local vegetable.
Carrots provide very high provisions of Vitamin A (carotenes). Two carrots will roughly give you the equivalent of 4,050 which is about four times the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake). So, it is not a myth, carrots do indeed provide fantastic nutrition to support your eye health. Beta-carotene provides protection against macular degeneration and cateracts, as well as aiding night vision.
The antioxidant value found in carrots is very high and including a daily intake of carotenoid-rich foods can support cardiovascular and immune system health. It has also been suggested that a high carotene intake may also be linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer.
Carrots also provide excellent levels of vitamin K, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, thiamine and fibre. It is advisable to purchase and consume certified organic carrots where possible, as a carrot can commonly retain high levels of pesticide residue.
Although a raw carrot is healthy, fibrous and packed with enzymes, your body will utilise the nutrients in a carrot better (especially the beta-carotene) if cooked. It is also important to check the quality of your carrots before consuming; a carrot with a green top, near the stem end, will be bitter and this green end should be cut away.
It is wise to store carrots away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruit and veg’ that produce ethylene gas, as this will also cause the carrots to taste bitter. It is always a good idea to avoid eating a carrot if it has mould growing on it for obvious reasons too.
There are over a hundred different varieties of carrot, both wild and cultivated. Generally associated with the colour orange, carrots also come in varying shades of yellow, red, purple and white. Over many centuries and in many areas across the Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia and Europe carrots were widely cultivated and appreciated. Historical images and records mostly depict carrots as yellow or purple. The modern commercial carrot variety familiar to us all (a long, succulent, orange tap root) is thought to have been cultivated in Holland in the 1700s.
The carrot is a humble but extremely rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, energy enhancing sugars and carbohydrates as well as antioxidants with the potential to support wellness into longevity. It is easily grown at home and readily accessible in local organic stores most of the year round. Equal in status to the aforementioned apple if we are to be recommending something good to eat on a daily basis.
Roasted Organic Carrots with Gremolata
(For an even healthier/nutritious dish you could steam your carrots and drizzle a raw nutritional oil, like hemp, linseed or olive, onto your cooked carrots before adding the gremolata, therefore optimizing your uptake of fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.)
1⁄2 cup flat leaf parsley
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. In a roasting pan, combine carrots and olive oil. Roast carrots 30 minutes, stirring halfway through baking time.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, lemon rind, and salt. Toss carrots with parsley mixture and bake 5 minutes longer. Transfer carrots to a serving dish. Enjoy!