Bugs Bunny isn’t the only one crazy about carrots – they’re one of America’s favorite vegetables, possibly because they’re sweet, crunchy and easy to eat.
COOKING NOTES: This golden root is part of the same family as fennel, celery, parsley and parsnip, and contains some of the same powerful antioxidants. Carrots can be eaten raw, cooked into soups and are featured in the famous French “mirepoix”. But carrots weren’t always the bright orange color we’re familiar with today. Older varieties were multi-colored, and now “Rainbow Carrots” are showing up in the markets, sporting colors ranging from dark-red to yellow and white.
KEY NUTRIENTS, PHYTONUTRIENTS AND THE HEALTH CONDITIONS THEY MAY BENEFIT: Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that is a pro-vitamin A. The darker red varieties have higher levels of anthocyanins, a set of purplish blue-pigmented antioxidants that stabilize blood vessel walls, enhance vitamin C levels and collagen. Beta-carotene, as well as lutein, is known to fight macular degeneration and cataracts, both leading causes of blindness as we age. Several studies have shown that eating just one carrot per day is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
DOCTOR’S NOTE: More is not necessarily better when it comes to carrots. People who drink several cups of carrot juice daily eventually develop an orange hue to their skin from the excess beta-carotene. Plus, carrots soak up more pesticides than other vegetables, prompting the Environmental Working Group to put them on their Dirty Dozen Link. Check it out at www.ewg.org. Make sure you eat organic carrots and shoot for an average of 1-2 carrots per day.
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