As a kid I used to love to eat carrots just so I could say “What’s up Doc,” like Bugs Bunny. Am I showing my age? I wish that nowadays they made cartoon characters eat healthy. If SpongeBob had a hankering for broccoli or Dora carried snap peas in her backpack, my kids would be more likely to down their veggies. My kids like Veggie Tales, but they are just shaped like vegetables, they don’t eat them.
Oh well, until they come up with “Veggie Man,” I will continue to use my method of either hiding the veggies or offering them with dip. But, I still love carrots and the funny thing is that I prefer them raw to cooked. I had hummus with raw baby carrots yesterday for my afternoon snack and it was satisfying and delicious. Last night we ate a Jason’s Deli and I ordered the steamed vegetables and I admit that I actually picked out the cooked carrots.
I probably should have chocked down those cooked carrots because I just found out today that cooked carrots are actually better for you! Don’t get me wrong, both cooked and raw carrots are extremely healthy, but cooking the carrots slightly changes the nutritional content and makes some of the nutrients more bioavailable. It also helps if you eat the carrots with a little bit of fat (like olive oil, hummus or avocado) because that also helps the nutrients more easily absorbed into your system.
I was extremely excited to read that recent studies have shown that as little as one carrot a day can cut the rate of lung cancer in half! That is amazing!
Carrots are high in carotenoids, which is a powerful antioxidant that has a wide range of health benefits. The most staggering of those benefits is that a high carotenoid intake has been associated with a 50% decrease of occurrence of bladder, cervix, prostrate, colon, larynx, and esophageal cancer. You’ve probably heard of beta-carotene, but did you know that beta-carotene is only one of the 500 members of the carotenoid family? Carrots also have alpha-carotene which has been shown to be even more powerful than beta-carotene in inhibiting tumor growth.
Dr. Walt Willett, Ph.D., chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, states that dozens of studies show that a diet high in fruits and vegetables with high carotenoids lead to decreased risk of many types of cancers and cardiovascular disease.
Also, the old wives tale is true, carrots are good for the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthinm, two other carotenoids in carrots, work together to protect the eyes and prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. The vitamin A in carrots also helps the eyes by increasing the amount of rhodopsin, which is needed by the eye to see dim light. Now get this, 3 measly carrots have 586 grams of potassium, 30,000 IUs of vitamin A, 15,000 units of beta-carotene, 6,000 units of alpha-carotene and a whopping 5 grams of fiber! Wow!
Have you been on a low-carb diet, like Atkins or South Beach? If so, you may have been warned to say away from carrots because of their glycemic index. Well, I found out something interesting that you low-carb fanatics will be happy about! The glycemic index actually doesn’t matter at all. You only need to worry about the glycemic load, which is actually extremely low. Carrots only have a glycemic load of 3 on a scale of 0-40. So even low-carb dieters can eat away!
Do you like carrots? What is your favorite way to eat them?