Carrots: what are the benefits?

 

Vitamin A is important for our immune system, sight and reproduction, yet our bodies cannot make it. The best source of vitamin A is real food and the humble low-cost carrot takes care of it.

A root vegetable, carrots are a favourite of mine because they are flexible, happily at the core of many delicious warm welcoming dishes providing comfort and sustenance, or as an element in a salad or even as a healthy baton snack.

Inexpensive, easy to prepare, when it comes to winter dishes they offer virtually endless possibilities for cooking, adding flavour and colour to meals such as soups, stews and casseroles. Preparation possibilities are almost limitless;

  • mash them
  • roast with a drizzle of olive oil
  • roast, stir-fry, baked or sauté

Packed with antioxidants, which help remove toxins and could aid with cancer prevention and cardiovascular health, they are also rich in minerals, having been able to source them direct from the soil. High in fibre, vitamin C and B-vitamins and flush in complex carbohydrates, these break down into sugars in the body providing slow release energy throughout the day. But our focus today is carrot’s golden role in providing us with vitamin A.

Orange magic, gold medal for health

Carrots contain beta-carotene, the carotenoid which gives carrots their vivid colour; our bodies then convert this into vitamin A. As well as being important for our immune system and reproduction, foods rich in carotenoids can also protect against the macular degeneration that comes with aging, which can cause serious damage to vison. So, it turns out carrots really are good for our eyes!

To best absorb carrot’s nutrients eat them raw – think shredded in slaws or sandwiches, or cut into batons as a snack with hummus. If you prefer your carrots cooked and preserving the nutrients is the aim, instead of slicing them before cooking, cook whole and slice afterwards.

Of course, as is the case with so many real foods, there is more than one good reason to eat them – so on top of all the nutrients already mentioned another exciting nutrient in this common vegetable is falcarinol, which researchers have claimed to have cancer protective properties, though more research is needed.

Go one, gnaw on one today – or check out Just Routine Recipes for some great ideas – including a delicious carrot and onion soup and a tasty roasted carrot, onion and beetroot salad.

NOTE: a varied and balanced diet should be capable of providing our vitamin A needs, with excess stored in the body for future use. Before considering supplementation consult with your doctor or a medical professional.  

 

Make eating real food Just Routine

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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