Where do carrots fall on your list of healthy foods to eat? I for one, was ready to un-include them from my veggie platter long before I became a Health Coach....
I am the designated Veggie Platter Master in my family. I can't recall the first time I was actually assigned this dish. I come from an Italian background, following the typical Italian Holiday traditions. In addition to the calendar Holidays in which I am required to create a platter, we find any excuse to gather together and celebrate: birthdays, change of season, life. There was a time when I was insulted that ALL I was assigned was this "boring" platter. Did the family elders think I did not know how to cook? Did they not like my cooking? Did nobody else want the tedious tasks of washing/scrubbing, peeling/blanching, creating/arranging? And the dip, creating a dip that would appeal to most and of course did not contain any artificial anything including dyes, emulsifiers, flavor enhancers, etc.? OK, so I am getting to the discussion of carrots, but let me just answer....No....they did not want the tedious tasks, nor did anybody approach their veggie platter quite as thoroughly as I did/do. My family has given me the VPM title because my vegetables are extra clean, either fresh from my organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) when available, or from the store, organic when we are referring to the Dirty Dozen (which is more like the dirty 14 or so). I include a variety, often adding blanched asparagus and green beans, two of my favorites. At some point I became bored with carrots, but their beautiful orange color redeemed them. Can you list 5 orange vegetables?
There are a whole bunch or reasons why you should be eating carrots and why you should NOT give them up because a "diet" tells you they are too sweet; give up the diet if that's the case! Quite simply, carrots are amazing. They are delicious additions and you can add them to practically anything such as smoothies, soups, salads, juices, or simply on their own: raw or cooked, whole, sticks, shredded, spiraled, ribboned, chopped, rounds. Carrots come in a variety of colors such as purple, red, white, and yellow, and most often orange, They are quite nutritious. Do you eat the rainbow? The colors of a fruits or vegetables is indicative of their phytochemicals- the substances occurring naturally and only in plants, providing health benefits beyond essential nutrients- different ones for different colors. These phytochemicals are what fight disease. Each color represents different phytochemicals. What gives a carrot it's orange color? Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene. These are called carotenoids and can be converted in the body to vitamin A, a nutrient that is integral for vision and immune function, as well as skin and bone health. As if this is not a good enough explanation as to the goodness of the carrot, how about these:
- Digestion: Eating carrots regularly may prevent gastric ulcers and other digestive disorders.
- Potassium: Helps reduce blood pressure and lower your risks for heart disease. It is one of the bodies most important electrolytes. Potassium deficiency can cause muscle cramps.
- Dental Health: Help prevent tooth decay and kill germs.
- Phytonutrient: Contains falcarinol, which may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Fiber: High in soluble fiber which may reduce cholesterol.
If you are tired of carrot sticks and hummus, here are some ideas....