Carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour; this is due to a high volume of beta-carotene pigment
Do you know that there are variants of carrots that are purple, black, red, white, and yellow? Yes, such cultivars exist and have nutritional values too.
However, this article deals with only the orange coloured carrots, their nutritional value and health benefits.
Carrots are actually a domesticated form of the wild carrot, Daucus carota, native to Europe and Southwestern Asia (though it is grown in all tropical countries). The plant probably originated in Persia and was originally cultivated for its leaves and seeds. The most commonly eaten part of the plant is the taproot, although the stems and leaves are also eaten. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its greatly enlarged, more palatable, less woody-textured taproots.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that world production of carrots and turnips (these plants are combined by the FAO) for 2018 was 40 million tonnes, with 45% of the world total grown in China. Carrots are widely used in many cuisines, especially in the preparation of salads, and carrot salads are a tradition in many regional cuisines.
Nutritional value of carrot and health benefits
The nutritional value of carrot and its health benefits depends on whether the vegetable is eaten raw or cooked. Studies show that slightly cooked carrots contain more nutrients than raw ones. The following is the nutritional value of raw carrots per 100g.
Nutritional value of carrot
Nutritional value of Carrot per 100 g (3.5 oz)
|Energy||173 kJ (41 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.8 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||104% 835 μg|
|Lutein zeaxanthin||256 μg|
|Thiamine (B1)||6% 0.066 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||5% 0.058 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||7% 0.983 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||5% 0.273 mg|
|Vitamin B6||11% 0.138 mg|
|Folate (B9)||5% 19 μg|
|Vitamin C||7% 5.9 mg|
|Vitamin E||4% 0.66 mg|
|Vitamin K||13% 13.2 μg|
|Calcium||3% 33 mg|
|Iron||2% 0.3 mg|
|Magnesium||3% 12 mg|
|Manganese||7% 0.143 mg|
|Phosphorus||5% 35 mg|
|Potassium||7% 320 mg|
|Sodium||5% 69 mg|
|Zinc||3% 0.24 mg|
μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
IU = International units
†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Raw carrots are 88% water, 9% carbohydrates, 0.9% protein, 2.8% dietary fiber, 1% ash, and 0.2% fat. Carrot dietary fibre comprises mostly cellulose, with smaller proportions of hemicelluloses, lignin, and starch. Free sugars in carrot include sucrose, glucose, and fructose.
The carrot gets its characteristic, bright orange colour from β-carotene, and lesser amounts of α-carotene, γ-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. α- and β-carotenes are partly metabolized into vitamin A, providing more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV) per 100 g serving of carrots.
Carrots are also a good source of vitamin K (13% DV) and vitamin B6 (11% DV), but otherwise have modest content of other essential nutrients. As you can see, the nutritional values of carrots are innumerable.
Health benefits of carrots
The carrot gets its characteristic and bright orange colour from β-carotene, which is metabolized into vitamin A in humans when bile salts are present in the intestines. Massive overconsumption of carrots can cause carotenosis, a benign condition in which the skin turns orange. Carrots are also rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants, and minerals.
Lack of Vitamin A can cause poor vision, including night vision, and vision can be restored by adding Vitamin A back into the diet. An urban legend says eating large amounts of carrots will allow one to see in the dark. The legend developed from stories of British gunners in World War II who were able to shoot down German planes in the darkness of night. The legend arose during the Battle of Britain when the RAF circulated a story about their pilots' carrot consumption as an attempt to cover up the discovery and effective use of radar technologies in engaging enemy planes, as well as the use of red light (which does not destroy night vision) in aircraft instruments.
It reinforced existing German folklore and helped to encourage Britons—looking to improve their night vision during the blackouts—to grow and eat the vegetable.
Ethnomedically, the roots are used to treat digestive problems, intestinal parasites, and tonsillitis or constipation.
How to use Carrot in cooking
Carrot can be used in the recipe of many dishes ranging from salads, desserts, in rice dishes etc.
Use a vegetable brush to remove every speck of soil from carrots.
Peel if desired.
Raw carrots are naturally sweet, but lightly cooked carrots are even sweeter.
Carrots are one of those vegetables that lose very little nutritional value during cooking.
In fact, some nutrients in slightly cooked carrots are more available to the body than raw carrots.
Cooking actually breaks down the tough cellular wall of carrots making some nutrients more useable to the body.
Carrots can be shredded, chopped, juiced, or cooked whole.
They are delicious roasted, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, grilled, and they team up beautifully with almost any vegetable companion.
Carrots boost the nutritional value of soups, stews, salads and are indispensable in the stockpot.
The nutritional values of Carrots have made them an ever-present item in our foods
Facts about carrot
Β-Carotene structure. Carotene is responsible for the orange colour of carrots and many other fruits and vegetables. Polyacetylenes can be found in Apiaceae vegetables like carrots where they show cytotoxic activities.
Carrots can be eaten in a variety of ways. Only 3 per cent of the β-carotene in raw carrots is released during digestion: this nutritional value of carrots can be improved to 39% by pulping, cooking, and adding cooking oil. Alternatively, they may be chopped and boiled, fried or steamed, and cooked in soups and stews, as well as baby and pet foods. The greens are edible as a leaf vegetable, but are rarely eaten by humans; some sources suggest that the greens contain toxic alkaloids.
When used for this purpose, they are harvested young in high-density plantings, before significant root development, and typically used stir-fried, or in salads.
Do you know that some people are allergic to carrots?
In a 2010 study on the prevalence of food allergies in Europe, 3.6 per cent of young adults showed some degree of sensitivity to carrots. Because the major carrot allergen, the protein Dauc c 1.0104, is cross-reactive with homologues in birch pollen and mugwort pollen, most sufferers of this allergy are also allergic to pollen from these plants.