The health benefits of eating carrots range from improving vision and warding off certain cancers to anti-aging and reducing the risk of heart disease, carrots pack a pretty awesome punch.
They are loaded with beta carotene which boosts the immune system, protects cells
from damaging free radicals, and helps the reproductive system function properly.
They build healthy skin, tissue and teeth.
They reduce the risk of macular degeneration when eaten daily.
But if you want to get the most benefit from consuming carrots, follow these three simple rules:
1 - But whole carrots, not baby carrots.
It is rumored that baby carrots are soaked in chlorine or bleach. The interwebs give conflicting information on this one, but the owner of our local grocery store literally handed me a bag of whole carrots and told me to put the baby carrots back on the shelf while telling me that they bleach baby carrots so they are all the same bright orange color. (Why he doesn't just stop carrying them, I'm not sure).
Baby carrots also do not contain all the awesome phytonutrients found in wild carrots. This may be because companies are more interested in a longer shelf life than the nutrient profile. But why miss out on the health benefits of whole carrots? They are just as convenient as the babies - see the point below.
2 - Buy organic and keep the skin on.
If you buy organic carrots, you do not need to peel the skin off. Simply wash and scrub the carrot and enjoy - easy peasy. The skin has nutrients too!
3 - Eat a carrot every day.
In a study done in the Netherlands, participants who ate as little as 1/4 cup carrots every day significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat carrots:
Slightly steamed and topped with a little olive oil. This is probably the most simple way to enjoy a cooked carrot, just slice and steam until fork tender. Drizzle with salt and a good quality olive oil and enjoy.
Roasted carrots are to die for! I'm a big fan of Ina Garten's recipe for roasted carrots. You just roast carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper. Once they are fork tender serve topped with fresh cut dill! Literally doesn't get much easier than this.
Juice them. Carrot Ginger Juice is pretty common in most juice bars these days and for great reason. Toss a 1.5 cups of carrots with a 1/2" of fresh grated ginger, 8 oz. coconut water, 1 clementine and the juice of one lemon into a high-speed food processor. Puree until smooth and enjoy immediately. Here's another great recipe to try.
Toss into your salad. Using a large grater, grate a few carrots and toss into your salad. Add beets and apples too for a deliciously well balanced, nutrient-rich combo.
Our Spring meal plans are loaded with healthy doses of carrots. Get a free taste!