Carrots are very orange and nutritious, but what makes this bright, strangely shaped vegetable interesting?
What Is A Carrot?
This is a carrot.
As you can tell, carrots are definitely orange in color, but can also be red, yellow purple or even white depending on the variety. A fresh carrot is very crisp and usually the orange root is eaten and the green sprouts are discarded.
Carrots are a biennial plant which means that it is a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its biological lifecycle. In the spring and summer, the plant grows leaves and establishes a fat taproot. During the cold months, the plant is dormant. The stem is very short and the leaves stay close to the ground. During the second spring and summer, the taproot gets longer and the stem gets much taller. All of the previous growth has been so that a bunch of white flowers will grow from a three foot stem which produces a shizocarp that splits into mericarps which are indehiscent. Sounds like crazy talk doesn’t it?! Simply put, a dry fruit with seeds grows from the flowers and the seeds stay enclosed in a little covering.
Nutrition Facts – Raw vs. Cooked
Carrots are amazingly nutritious!
One cup of raw carrots has:
- 52 Calories
- 0.3g Total Fat
- 0mg Cholesterol
- 88mg Sodium
- 12.3g Total Carbohydrates
- 1.2g Protein
- 42 mg Calcium
- 0.38 mg Iron
- 15 mg Magnesium
- 45 mg Phosphorus
- 410 mg Potassium
- 0.31 mg Zinc
- 0.058 mg Copper
- 0.183 mg Manganese
- 0.1 mcg Selenium
- 4.1 mcg Fluoride
- 7.6 mg Vitamin C – total ascorbic acid
- 0.084 mg Thiamin
- 0.074 mg Riboflavin
- 1.258 mg Niacin
- 0.349 mg Pantothenic acid
- 0.177 mg Vitamin B-6
- 24 mcg Folate
- 10605 mcg Beta-Carotene
- 4451 mcg Alpha-Carotene
- And a whole bunch more that isn’t listed!
Which translates into:
- 428% of the recommended Vitamin A
- 13% of the recommended Vitamin C
- 4% of the recommended Calcium
- 2% of the recommended Iron
Although a carrot is packed with all that good stuff, it is in a form that the body has a hard time breaking down when the carrot is raw. According to “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition“ May 2002, Volume 56, Number 5, Pages 425-430, “Estimation of carotenoid accessibility from carrots determined by an in vitro digestion method,” by E Hedrén, V Diaz and U Svanberg, the total beta-carotene released adds up like this:
- 3% from raw carrots
- 21% from pulped carrots
- 27% from cooked carrots
- 39% from carrots cooked in oil
Carrots have more carotene (converts to vitamin A) than any other fruit or vegetable and that is also why they are orange in color.
A few things that eating carrots can do:
- lower cholesterol
- lower blood pressure
- promote colon health because carrots are high in fiber
- has anti-cancer properties
- good for the eyes (Vitamin A), but won’t improve vision
- increases immunity
- prevents cell degeneration and slows down aging (anti-oxidant)process
- improves the appearance of the skin, hair and nails
All in all, it is better to eat cooked carrots because they are easier for the body to break them down and use the vitamins and minerals that is packed within them.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Although carrots are great for the body, eating too many of them has a few negative effects.
- Gives you gas
- Helps control your appetite, but deprives you of other vitamins not found in carrots
- Makes your skin and nails turn orange
According to the “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” in the December 2007 issue, carotenes are converted to vitamin A in the liver and intestines. If you eat so many carotenes that your body can’t process them fast enough, the byproducts are absorbed by skin cells. Too many carotene byproducts will cause the skin to turn orange after it builds up for awhile. This orangeness is called carotenemia and is not dangerous. Since it takes time to build up in the skin cells, it also can take up to three weeks to disappear too.
What Is A Carrot Top?
I need to clarify the issue of the carrot top. When you look at a carrot growing in the ground, the orange part is growing under the soil and the green part is growing on top of the soil. That makes the orange taproot the bottom of the carrot and the top of the carrot is the green leafy part.
This clarification is very important to redheads.
Well, almost all my life I have been called Carrot Top when people wanted to tease me, but according to my explanation of fact, it is a totally inaccurate description! A carrot top is green, green, green! Green like Kermit the Frog or a very well fertilized and watered lawn in the summer! My hair is not green! So all those silly children and people who have called me Carrot Top must be red-green color blind or they don’t know which end of the carrot is the top.
The next time I talk about carrots, you will be looking at lots of photos that will make you drool. Just thought I would let you dream and wonder what I am cooking up next.