The humble carrot can help you eat your way to health.
We're all looking after the pennies these days, but you don't need to break the bank to look after your health thanks to Britain's favourite vegetable: the carrot.
- Carrots were originally grown as medicine not food. Most people today aren't aware that the benefits of eating carrots range from better night-time vision, to boosting the immune and digestive systems, and even protecting the skin against UV rays.
- Carrots are packed with the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Of all the fruits and vegetables, carrots are actually the best source of beta-carotene. An 80g serving contains more than twice the recommended daily amount (RDA) needed by adults. The antioxidant action of beta-carotene helps to act against age-accelerating free radicals, so will help return that healthy glow to your skin.
- In addition, the Vitamin A in carrots is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. This nutrient also keeps 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.
- Carrots are an ideal choice for people looking to loose weight too. Naturally low in calories, fat, saturates and salt, they are also high in fibre which helps you feel fuller for longer and also helps to balance your blood glucose (sugar) levels. An 80g serving of cooked carrots (that's about ½ a medium sized carrot) contains 2g fibre, more than a tenth of the recommended daily amount for adults, and only contains 24 calories.
- And if you're not a fan of raw carrots, eating cooked carrots is actually a nutritional bonus. Research published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that more beta-carotene was absorbed from cooked, puréed carrots than from raw ones.
As well as being fantastically good for you, buying British carrots is also great for the environment. They can help to cut down on your food miles and carbon footprint, as they are one of the most carbon efficient vegetables around with a season of around 11 months which meets UK demand.
- Carrots may help to protect your skin from sun damage: when taken on a regular basis, beta-carotene can help to protect your skin from excessive ultra-violet (UV) radiation and sunburn. That's not to say you should ditch your sunscreen if you eat a lot of carrots! You should still follow sun safety advice and cover up during the hottest part of the day, wear a hat and regularly slather on sunscreen with a high SPF.
- Carrots have a tiny carbon footprint: they were recently given a carbon rating by Farmers Weekly of just 45g of carbon per 1kg of carrots, compared to 80g for onions, 240g for potatoes and 15,000g for beef.
- Adding a little fat enhances the goodness of carrots in salad: After years of being told to skip the mayo on salads, it might come as a surprise to learn that a drizzle of French dressing is the perfect accompaniment to salad, benefitting both in terms of taste and health. Research from Ohio State University in America found that more carotenoids such as beta-carotene were 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.
- Carrots really can help you see in the dark: beta-carotene found in large amounts in carrots is converted into vitamin A in the body and this vitamin is vital for healthy vision. Vitamin A works its eye health magic by being transformed into a purple pigment called rhodopsin in the retina, and this pigment is essential for vision in dim light.
Visit www.britishcarrots.co.uk for delicious recipes full of carroty goodness.
**Written by:** Carine Seitz