Crunchy, slightly sweet, great roasted, amazing juiced…oh how I love thee. Yeah, I heart carrots!
As a little girl I would BEG for carrot juice. My friends would make fun of me but no matter, I went nuts for the stuff, and the carrot seemed to love me back.
We read a lot of blog posts about the latest craze, the new superfood that only grows in the isolated peak of Death Mountain that can only be harvested during the full moon every leap year…ok so maybe I made that up.
The point is while folks are hunting for the latest superfood the old standby’s remain ready to give our bodies nutritional love. Plus they are usually inexpensive and easy to prepare.
So here are some fun facts to help you embrace the easy to find and often cheap carrot.
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Excellent source of Antioxidants
Carrots are full of health promoting antioxidants! Among the antioxidant superstars in carrots, you’ll find beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and anthocyanins.
You may recall antioxidants work by cleaning up oxidized material in the body and thereby assist in reducing inflammation (among other things). Antioxidants are an important part of your diet and getting plenty of them via fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables are key to maintaining health.
A high amount of beta-carotene
Beta-carotene is one of the carotenoids mentioned earlier, it is an antioxidant and the precursor to Vitamin A.
If you are someone who turns orange after consuming a lot of carrots, (my mom actually has this problem) then you are having a problem converting the beta-carotene into vitamin A.
So if you are trying to get more vitamin A the better approach is animal based sources of vitamin A such as liver, egg yolks from pastured chickens, and dairy (milk and butter) from grass-fed cows.
That said beta-carotene is still an important antioxidant and an important component to the nutritional profile of carrots. If you want to get the most beta-carotene try fresh carrot juice with a bit of fat. Many vitamins including vitamin A is fat soluble so a bit of avocado or a few pre-soaked nuts would be a perfect nutrient dense snack.
Other important nutrients
While beta-carotene gets all the fanfare, carrots also contain respectable amounts of several other nutrients, including vitamin K (21%DV), vitamin C (13% DV), potassium (12%), manganese (9%), B6 (9%), thiamin (6% DV), niacin (6% DV), folate (6% DV), calcium (4% DV), magnesium (4% DV) and more.
Basically, carrots are nutrient dense little bundles of yum!
Good source of fiber
Whole (non-juiced) carrots are a great source of fiber, mainly in the form of pectin. Fiber is necessary for your overall health, your digestive system, and for feeding your good bacteria.
Great for eye-health
I can personally attest to the power of carrots for your eyes. When I was 16 my vision was so bad I was prescribed eyeglasses, bifocals no less. My 16-year-old self HATED wearing those glasses, so I took on a regimen of several glasses of carrot juice a week.
After a few months I noticed my vision naturally improving. I kept at it, and two years later my optometrist was stunned to find my poor eyesight had corrected itself. I had 20/20 vision and no longer needed glasses.
While this is only anecdotal evidence, there is plenty of documented evidence supporting the use of carrots for eyesight. (source) (source) In particular, the lutein and zeaxanthin in carrots seem to play a critical role (source).
Excellent first food for babies
Steamed organic carrots make great a great first food for babies. I’m a big advocate of avoiding those preservative laden BPA coated baby foods and making your own.
My daughter used to love drinking fresh carrot and apple juice in her stainless steel sippy cup. The sweetness makes this a great option for picky babies and kids.
Buy organic or not?
Carrots take the 25th spot on the EWG’s Pesticide Residue Data list (source). Number one being the MOST contaminated and number 50 being the least contaminated. So carrots are right smack in the middle. BUT the list is relative, less pesticides compared to a whole lot of pesticides isn’t good. According to the Pesticide Action Network, carrots have approximately 26 kinds of pesticides! (source)
Considering this and the fact that carrots are root vegetables and are likely to contain other contaminants from the soil I still choose to buy ONLY organic carrots.
The official Filtered Family take is buy organic whenever possible so as to avoid as many toxins as possible.
However organic carrots are pretty cheap, a small bag will run you about $2 at Trader Joe’s, and a huge bag costs about $5 at Costco (where I get my juicing carrots). So it’s not too much more to go organic.
If you need more tips on budget friendly healthy eating read my post 12 Simple Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget.
So you got all excited and bought up all the carrots you could find…now what to do with them. Here are some yummy ideas to get your carrot fix.
First up Baked Carrot Fries from Hannah at Healthy Eats Real.
Try these super yum Maple Roasted Carrots from Damn Delicious.
I have to admit I’m intrigued by the Carrot Taco Shells from Carine at Sweet as Honey.
Kristen at the Endless Meal has an amazing Carrot Beet and Apple Salad with Mint, yes please!
These Paleo Carrot Cupcakes are perfect for a sweet tooth attack, brought to you by Primally Inspired.
Finally, Irena from Eat Drink Paleo brings us an amazing recipe straight out of Jenni Hulet’s My Paleo Patisserie.
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There you have it. Carrots are cheap, nutritious, and make yummy cakes, salads, and snacks!To read more on easy to find foods that are nutrient dense read my last post Simple Nutrition: Why You Should Be Loving Bananas.
And if you are ready for a bigger change read my post on The Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating.
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Do you have a favorite carrot recipe to share? Add your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time amazing families!
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