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
Visit Our Food Facts Library for Empowering Nutrition Information
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