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Eating Well with Whole Foods: Carrots

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski


Carrots are scientifically known as Daucus carota, a name that can be traced back to ancient Roman writings of the 3rd century. Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family along with parsnips, fennel caraway, cumin and dill which all have the umbrella-like flower clusters that characterize this family of plants. While we usually associate carrots with their vibrant orange hue, in fact, carrots grow in a variety of other colors including white, yellow, red, and purple –the color of the original variety. Carrots can be as small as two inches or as long as three feet, ranging in diameter from one-half of an inch to over two inches. Owing to its heightened popularity, in the early 1800s, the carrot became the first vegetable to be canned. Although carrots are available throughout the year, they are freshest and most flavorful in the summer and fall when they are locally grown in season. Today, the United States, France, England, Poland, China and Japan are among the largest producers of carrots.

Popular among adults and children alike for their sweetness and crunchy texture, carrots not only taste good but are good for us too! While predominantly known for their eye protective benefits, carrots provide a host of other health promoting benefits as well. Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds, and the richest vegetable source of the pro-vitamin A carotenes – just one cup provides 16,679 IUs of beta-carotene and 3,432 REs (retinol equivalents), or roughly 686.3% the RDA for vitamin A. Studies suggest that carrots may help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision. High carotenoid intake has been linked with a 20% decrease in postmenopausal breast cancer and an up to 50% decrease in the incidence of cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus. A carotenoids rich diet has also been associated with helping to regulate blood sugar. Additionally, studies suggest that including as little as one carrot per day could possibly cut the rate of lung cancer in half!

When buying carrots select ones that are firm, smooth, and fairly straight with a bright color. The deeper the orange hue, the more beta-carotene present in the carrot. Avoid those that are cracked, limp, and rubbery, with wilted green tops. If you prefer sweeter carrots, opt for larger ones. When stored properly carrots will keep for about two weeks. Place them in a plastic bag in the coolest part of the refrigerator and be sure to remove the green tops in order to prevent premature wilting. Wash carrots and gently scrub with a vegetable brush before eating. It is not necessarily to peel them unless they are not organically grown. Carrots are delicious eaten raw or cooked. Cooking will bring out its natural sweetness and make the beta-carotene more available by breaking down the fiber. Just be sure not to overcook the carrots in order to ensure that they retain their high nutrient level and maximum flavor.

Gingered Carrots

Makes: 4 servings

16-oz package peeled baby carrots

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon organic honey

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, snipped

Orange peel, finely shredded

(optional)

Use a large covered saucepan to cook the carrots in a small amount of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well. Set aside. Mix the orange juice, honey, and ginger in a small bowl. Drizzle over the carrots. Toss to coat. Transfer the carrots to a serving bowl. Top with parsley and, if desired, orange peel. Enjoy!

 

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com,  or you can email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com,  or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.


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