I love carrots, raw or cooked! For years, I was under the impression raw carrots must surely be of greater nutritional value, than steamed or boiled carrots – even if you boil them in a minimum amount of water, for a minimum amount of time. I was WRONG, it seems!
‘An experiment carried out at the Institute of Food Research in 2009 showed that the body can absorb about 5% of the beta carotene from a single carrot, whereas when it is boiled, the carrot released 60% and blended and then boiled a whopping 90%!’ according to the Carrot Museum. For any of you who like carrots, you might be interested in discovering more about them. Their history, cultivation, nutrition and general trivia is all up for scrutiny with the click of a mouse – www.carrotmuseum.com has countless pages on the power of the carrot!
For instance, it looks at how adding a little fat can enhance the goodness of carrots in salad. It seems that an olive oil based dressing is not just good for flavour, but good for health too. Research from Ohio State University found that beta-carotene was absorbed when a fresh salad (consisting of carrots, romaine lettuce, spinach and cherry tomatoes) was eaten with full-fat salad dressing compared with fat-free salad dressing – beta carotene is soluble in fat (oil), not in water!
Although The Carrot Museum site states that it does not recommend self-diagnosis or self-medication and that ‘the information contained in this web site has not been verified for correctness’, it’s nevertheless an interesting read.
I think we can certainly stand over some nutritional facts about carrots as summarised in my paragraph below, while others may be a little more than enthusiastic in attributing nutrition and health related virtues to the carrot.
Seven reasons to like carrots
Carrots, like most fruit and vegetables, are relatively low in calories. An 80g serving of cooked carrots contains approximately 24 calories, making them a good addition to your dinner plate, if you’re watching your weight.
Carrots are naturally low in fat and more importantly they are low in saturated fat (the kind that’s not so healthy for our hearts). An 80g serving of cooked carrots contains approx 0.3g of total fat (of that 0.1g is saturated fat).
Carrots count towards your five-a-day. Like most veg, 80g is an average serving . You can enjoy them fresh or frozen- even the canned carrot counts nutritionally (but for me they are sadly lacking in texture and flavour that I’d prefer to choose another fresh veg rather than resort to tinned carrots). Serve them as a side dish, cooked in a soup or stew, raw in a salad or made into a juice.
Carrots are naturally low in salt too. To stay healthy and reduce your risk of getting high blood pressure, the best approach to salt is to avoid adding it at the table or when cooking. The target is to encourage people to consume no more than 6g of salt a day – which is pretty difficult as there is a lot of hidden and added salt when food is processed. An 80g serving of cooked carrots contains just 0.1g salt, providing you haven’t added salt to the cooking water.
Carrots contain fibre, which helps keep the digestive system healthy and helps balance blood sugar levels. Fibre also helps you to feel fuller for longer so you find it easier to maintain your weight. An 80g serving of cooked carrots contains approx 2g fibre – about a tenth of the recommended daily amount for adults.
Carrots are packed with a nutrient called beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A by the body. In fact an 80g serving of cooked carrots contains more than twice the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A equivalent needed by adults. Vitamin A plays a part in many important bodily functions, such as:
• Immune function
• Embryonic development and reproduction
• Bone health
• Skin health
Carrots help to keep your immune system strong. Vitamin A helps keep the skin and cells that line the airways, digestive tract and urinary tract healthy, so they act as barriers and form the body’s first line of defence against infection.