By Christian Dischler
Carrots can be inserted into almost any recipe that allows room for interpretation. It’s the main component in soups, stir-fry, cake, gravy, salads, you name it!
Known for their versatility as a healthy snack or an ingredient in a robust soup, carrots carry an abundance of health benefits parallel to their flavor profile. One of nature’s less polarizing vegetables, they are welcome additions to dinner plates and snack boxes worldwide. What makes this sweet veggie such a crucial part to a balanced diet? Simply put, carotenoids—phytonutrients first discovered in carrots and aptly named after them.
Carotenoids can be found in a multitude of fruits and vegetables. They’re best categorized as the antioxidant rich phytonutrients that give certain plants their colors, and can be determined by which color they provide. In the case of carrots, beta-carotene gives them their vibrant orange color (and sometimes a rainbow of color). But aside from providing this world with a splash of vibrancy, carotenoids assist the human body with many functions and provide necessary health benefits.
You’re likely familiar with carrots being responsible for helping with eyesight. Well, it’s not simply a rumor—there’s scientific validity to that statement. B-carotene helps counteract certain age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Moreover, b-carotene is classified as a provitamin A carotenoid. Meaning our bodies convert some of it to valuable vitamin A, which is also responsible for aiding eyesight and boosting the immune system.
Even more impressive, carotenoid’s antioxidant properties are recognized for their cancer fighting abilities. B-carotene actively fight against harmful free radicals and are particularly strong in the prevention of breast cancer. Additionally, carotene gives our heart support by increasing our defenses against cardiovascular disease. Carrots also carry lutein, biotin, retinol and lycopene—making them resourceful in giving us healthier skin.
All of this without even mentioning how the fiber content of a carrot comprises 10 percent of our daily intake, and works overtime to balance gut bacteria. It’s clear why this bright veggie is important to incorporate in your diet. And it’s easy! Carrots can be inserted into almost any recipe that allows room for interpretation. It’s the main component in soups, stir-fry, cake, gravy, salads, you name it. But remember that a lot of these health benefits require the help of a fat, in order to ensure total absorption and maximize potential. So splash a little olive oil in the pan, toss an avocado in the salad, or get crazy with a dollop of butter and a drizzle of cane syrup on your steamed carrots.