Monday, September 13, 2010

Vegetable of the Week: Carrot!


Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy eyesight, skin, growth, and also aids our bodies in resisting infection. Carrots have a higher natural sugar content than all other vegetables with the exception of beets. This is why they make a wonderful snack when eaten raw and make a tasty addition to a variety of cooked dishes.

There are many varieties of carrots, but the variety typically found in supermarkets is from 7–9 inches in length and 3/4–1-1/2 inches in diameter.

Carrots are available and in season all year long. Look for well shaped carrots. Pick carrots that are deep orange in color. More beta carotene is present in carrots that have a darker orange color. Avoid carrots that are crackled, shriveled, soft, or wilted.

Carrots are best stored between 32–50 degrees in the crisper section of the refrigerator. If you buy carrots with the green tops still on, break off the tops and rinse, place in a plastic bag and store as described above. Storing them in the refrigerator will preserve their flavor, texture, and the beta carotene content. Do not store them with fruits. Fruits
produce ethylene gas as they ripen. This gas will decrease the storage life of the carrots as well as other vegetables. This is why it is best to store fruits and vegetables separately.

Although carrots lose some of their vitamins when peeled, dishes prepared with peeled carrots taste fresher and better. Cook carrots in a small amount of water until they are tender, or save time and cook them in the microwave. Season with dill, tarragon, ginger, honey, brown sugar, parsley, lemon or orange juice.

Carrots offer plenty of goodness for our well being, here are 10 reason why we should make carrots a part of our regular diet:
- Vision: All that Vitamin A in carrots in known for helping with eyesight. What carrots, and Vitamin A, can best help with concerning vision is difficult vision at night. Also, studies show carrots help to reduce the chances of cataracts.
- Obesity: Carrots contain plenty of fiber, which helps the bowels to work better and aids in passing food through the body. Less food, less weight. Simple.
- Lower cholesterol: Carrots also contain a good quantity of soluble fiber calcium pectate, which binds with bile acids in the body to draw cholesterol out of the blood stream. This cholesterol then passes out of the body.
- High blood pressure: Sodium is a bad thing when it comes to high blood pressure. And Potassium is good for combating sodium. The potassium in carrots helps to level out the sodium in the body, and the fiber in the carrots helps to pass some of that sodium on out of the body. Thus, carrots help with high blood pressure.
- Clean teeth: Minerals in carrots help to kill germs in the mouth and to clean away tooth decay. So, if you can’t brush, at least chomp into a carrot.
- Anti-oxidant: Carrots contain tons of beta-carotene, which works as an anti-oxidant that helps the body to combat cell damage done to the body by impurities in the bloodstream and the like such as chemicals or even oxygen.
- Diarrhea: All that fiber in carrots can also help to ease a trouble digestive system, including the stomach and intestines, and can help to slow or halt the growth of bacteria in the stomach. Generally carrots served in a liquid form, juice or soup, serve best for purposes of dealing with diarrhea.
- Blood sugar levels: The carotenoid found in carrots affects the level of insulin resistance in the body, thus naturally helping to control blood sugar levels.
- Headaches: If you’re suffering from a headache, give carrot juice a try. Supposedly carrot juice helps the body send blood to the brain, which will help to ease the pain of headaches.
- Cancer: This one is somewhat debatable. Some studies have suggested the beta-carotene in carrots helps to reduce the chances of cancer, specifically lung cancer. But some other studies suggest high intake of beta-carotene can actually increase the chances of cancer. Who is right? Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps a little beta-carotene is good for you, but maybe a lot of it isn’t so good. Again, check with your physician.

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