Spring is on its way, despite today’s downpour in the Treasure Valley, so what better time to feature carrots as the good for you food of the week? This sweet, crunchy root vegetable is one that almost everyone will eat, making it a great addition to lunch boxes and after school snacks, and it provides a whole “bunch” of health benefits as well.
Not surprisingly, carrots provide the highest amount of carotenes—highly pigmented compounds which can be converted into vitamin A and have antioxidant properties—than any other food. You probably grew up hearing that carrots are good for your eyes. Beta-carotene is known to protect vision, especially night vision, which can decrease as we age. It also helps protect against macular degeneration and cataracts. Carotenoids, carotenes without oxygen, have also been shown to help regulate blood sugar.
In one cup of raw carrots, you will get nearly six times your recommended daily allowance for vitamin A, as well as vitamins C, and K, B vitamins like niacin, thiamin and pyridoxine, potassium, dietary fiber, magnesium, manganese and folate, all for 52 calories. That’s a great nutritional bargain.
And speaking of bargains, carrots are inexpensive—48 cents a pound at WinCo for bulk, unpeeled carrots. If you prefer the convenience of baby carrots, which are already peeled and milled down to a handy snacking size, WinCo sells those, too. A two-pound bag will run around $2.98. But if you don’t mind peeling and chopping them yourself, grab the bulk carrots and save some money.
Carrots are a perfect snack all by themselves. Or you can chop them and add them to soups and salads. Try shredding them and mixing them with raisins and a little light mayonnaise, thinned with nonfat milk for a sweet salad. You can roast them in the oven, sauté them in a skillet, or steam them in the microwave. Their mild flavor makes them a great backdrop for all kinds of sauces and glazes. Try them with ginger for an unexpected treat. Or do a classic French take by sautéing them in a little butter and adding chopped herbs like parsley or tarragon. And of course, who can say no to carrot cake? However you enjoy them, know that carrots are giving you a real bang for your nutritional buck.
Talk it up:
Do you enjoy carrots?
What’s your favorite way to eat carrots?
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