What You Need to Know About Carrots
What are Carrots?
The carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) is a root vegetable that is typically orange but can also be purple, black, red, white, or yellow. It is a domesticated form of the wild carrot that originally came from Europe and southwestern Asia. The leaves and seeds are also eaten, but the most commonly eaten part of the plant is the taproot. Carrots are a biennial plant in the umbellifer family and grow a rosette of leaves while they build up their big taproot. Fast-growing carrots mature within 90 days of being planted, while slower-maturing carrots need 120 days to mature. The roots are high in alpha- and beta-carotene and are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin B6.
What is the history of Carrots? Where did it come from?
According to both written history and molecular genetic studies, the domestic carrot has a single origin in Central Asia. Carrots were first cultivated in Afghanistan and then spread to other parts of the world.
The wild ancestors of the carrot are thought to have come from Persia, which is still home to the most diverse population of wild carrots. Over time, people selectively bred a subspecies of wild carrot to reduce bitterness, increase sweetness and minimize the woody core. This process created the familiar garden vegetable we know today.
Carrots were firstly grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds instead of their familiar roots. Carrot seeds have been discovered in countries such as Switzerland and Southern Germany dating back as early as 2000–3000 BC.
Some close relatives of the carrot are still grown for their leaves and seeds, such as parsley, cilantro, coriander, fennel, anise, dill, and cumin.
The first historical mention of the root vegetable we know as carrots today is from the 1st century AD. Back then, the Romans called it pastinaca. It’s believed that this may have been either the carrot or a close cousin of carrots, parsnips.
Varieties of Carrots
1. The four general types of carrots are:
The average carrot is about six inches long and two inches in diameter, but they can range in size from just a few inches to over a foot long.
Carrots are typically orange, but they can also be white, yellow, red, or purple.
Carrots are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber and potassium.
Chantenay carrots are short and stubby with tapered ends. They are typically about five inches long and two inches in diameter.
Danvers carrots are longer and more slender than Chantenay carrots, typically growing to be about six or seven inches long.
Imperator carrots are even longer than Danvers carrots, typically reaching eight or nine inches in length. They are also narrower in diameter, typically only an inch or so wide.
Nantes carrots are shorter than Imperator carrots but wider in diameter, typically growing to be six or seven inches long and two inches wide.
Carrots can be eaten raw, cooked, juiced, or used in a variety of recipes.
1. Orange Carrots
Orange carrots are the most popular type of carrot in the United States. They are typically 6-8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Orange carrots get their color from beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is important for vision, immune function, and cell growth.
2. Purple Carrots
Purple carrots are less common than orange carrots, but they are gaining in popularity due to their unique color and flavor. Purple carrots are typically 6-8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. They get their color from anthocyanins, which are a type of flavonoid. Flavonoids are antioxidants that have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved heart health.
3. Yellow Carrots
Yellow carrots are another less common type of carrot that is gaining in popularity due to their unique color and flavor. Yellow carrots are typically 6-8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. They get their color from carotenoids, which are a type of pigment. Carotenoids are antioxidants that have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved eye health.
4. White Carrots
White carrots are the least common type of carrot and are not as popular as the other colors due to their bland flavor. White carrots are typically 6-8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. They do not contain any carotenoids or anthocyanins, so they do not have any antioxidant benefits.
5. Red Carrots
Red carrots are another less common type of carrot that is gaining in popularity due to their unique color and flavor. Red carrots are typically 6-8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. They get their color from lycopene, which is a type of carotenoid. Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved heart health
What are the Claimed Health Benefits of Carrots
1. Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for vision, bone growth, reproduction, and cell division. It can also help to boost the immune system.
2. Carrots may help to reduce the risk of cancer.
Some studies have found that people who eat diets rich in beta-carotene (such as carrots) have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer and colon cancer. However, it’s important to note that these studies have been observational, so they can’t prove that beta-carotene actually causes the reduced cancer risk.
3. Carrots may help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Eating carrots (and other foods rich in beta-carotene) has been linked with a lower risk of developing heart disease. One theory is that this is because beta-carotene helps to reduce inflammation in the body.
4. Carrots may help to improve cognitive function and memory.
One study found that older adults who ate more foods rich in beta-carotene (such as carrots) had better cognitive function and memory than those who ate less of these foods. The theory is that the antioxidant properties of beta-carotene may help to protect the brain from age-related damage.
5. Carrots may help to reduce the risk of stroke.
Eating carrots has been linked with a lower risk of stroke, possibly because the antioxidants in carrots help to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a known risk factor for stroke.
6. Carrots may help to improve skin health.
Vitamin A (which carrots are a good source of) is important for skin health. Vitamin A helps to keep skin moist and protects against UV damage. Some studies have found that applying creams containing vitamin A can help to treat acne and other skin conditions
List the Nutritional Values of Micronutrients and Macronutrients of Carrots
1. Carrots are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
2. One cup of carrots contains about 3 grams of fiber, which is important for promoting digestive health.
3. Carrots are also a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamin A is important for vision and immune health, while vitamin C is important for wound healing and immune function. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health.
4. Carrots also contain several minerals, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium is important for regulating blood pressure, while calcium is important for bone health. Magnesium is important for energy production and muscle function.
5. Carrots are a low-calorie food, with one cup containing only 50 calories.
6. Carrots are also a good source of carbohydrates, with one cup containing about 9 grams of carbs.
7. Carrots are considered a healthy food choice due to their nutritional values and micronutrients. They can be eaten raw or cooked and can be added to a variety of dishes for added nutrition.
Tips on how to select Carrots
1. Look for bright, orange carrots.
2. Avoid carrots that are dull in color or have green spots.
3. Choose carrots that are firm to the touch.
4. Avoid carrots that are soft, mushy, or have cracks or blemishes.
5. Select carrots that are of uniform size.
6. Avoid carrots that are excessively small or large.
7. Choose carrots that have fresh-looking greens attached.
8. Avoid carrots with wilted or yellowing greens attached.
9. If possible, smell the carrots before purchasing them.
10. Carrots should have a fresh, earthy smell.
11. Avoid carrots with a sour or unpleasant smell.
Tips on how to store Carrots
1. Carrots can be stored in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag, for up to two weeks.
2. Carrots can also be stored in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or root cellar, for up to two months.
3. If you plan on storing carrots for longer than two weeks or two months, they can be frozen.
4. To freeze carrots, wash and trim them, then blanch them by boiling them for three minutes.
5. After blanching, carrots should be cooled quickly and then placed in airtight bags before being placed in the freezer.
6. Carrots that have been frozen will stay fresh for up to a year.
7. If you want to store carrots without freezing them, you can pickle them.
8. To pickle carrots, wash and trim them, then slice or dice them into the desired size.
9. Next, make a pickling solution by combining vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spices in a pot and bringing it to a boil.
10. Once the pickling solution has come to a boil, add the carrots and let them cook for five minutes.
11. Finally, remove the carrots from the pickling solution and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two months.
12. Pickled carrots can be enjoyed as a snack or added to dishes for added flavor.
Tips on how to prepare Carrots
1. Rinse the carrots thoroughly under running water.
2. Peel the carrots, if desired. If you are using organic carrots or baby carrots that have not been treated with pesticides, you can skip this step.
3. Cut the carrots into the desired shape and size. Carrots can be cut into rounds, slices, or sticks.
4. Place the carrots in a pot of boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until they are tender but still slightly firm.
5. Drain the carrots and place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
6. Once the carrots are cooled, pat them dry with a paper towel.
7. Drizzle the carrots with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
8. Roast the carrots in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, or until they are tender and lightly browned.
9. Saute the carrots in a pan over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until they are tender but still slightly firm.
10. Grill the carrots on an outdoor grill over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, or until they are tender but still slightly firm
Popular recipes made with Carrots
1. Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is a cake that contains carrots in the batter. It is often flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices. The cake is usually topped with cream cheese frosting.
2. Carrot Soup
Carrot soup is a soup made with carrots as the primary ingredient. It is often flavored with ginger, garlic, and other spices. The soup can be served either hot or cold.
3. Roasted Carrots
Roasted carrots are carrots that have been roasted in the oven. They are often seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices before being roasted. Roasted carrots can be served as a side dish or as part of the main course.
4. Mashed Carrots
Mashed carrots are carrots that have been mashed into a smooth consistency. They are often seasoned with salt, pepper, and butter. Mashed carrots can be served as a side dish or as part of the main course.
5. Glazed Carrots
Glazed carrots are carrots that have been cooked in a sweet syrup or glaze. They are often served as a side dish or as part of the main course.
6. Fried Carrots
Fried carrots are carrots that have been fried in oil. They are often served as a side dish or as part of the main course.
7. Steamed Carrots
Steamed carrots are carrots that have been steamed until they are soft. They are often served as a side dish or as part of the main course.
8. Baby Carrots
Baby carrots are small, young carrots that have not yet reached full maturity. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are often used as an ingredient in salads, soups, and other dishes
Interesting, little-known, trivia, and fun facts about Carrots
1. Carrots were originally purple or white.
2. The modern orange carrot was developed in the Netherlands in the 16th century.
3. Carrots are a good source of Vitamin A, which is important for vision and the immune system.
4. Carrots are also a good source of fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
5. A study published in the journal Science found that carrots may help to reduce the risk of cancer.
6. Carrots are often thought of as being good for eyesight, but this is a myth.
7. However, carrots are still good for your eyes as they contain beta-carotene, which can help to protect against macular degeneration.
8. Baby carrots were first developed in the 1980s by a California farmer named Mike Yurochko.
9. The longest carrot on record was 19 feet, 11 inches long and was grown in 2014 by Joe Atherton of England.
10. The world’s largest carrot cake (Guinness World Records) The world’s largest carrot cake weighed in at 2,075 kg (4,574 lb) and was baked by Guildford Town Centre and Saint Germain Bakery in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada on 8 November 2016.
11. National Carrot Day is celebrated on April 4th each year.
12. Carrots can also be used as a natural dye for fabric and food coloring.
Images from Wikipedia