Most of us have heard that eating carrots will improve our night vision, but what’s the real story on carrots? Besides their sweet taste, carrots contain large amounts of beta-carotene, which provides the distinctive orange color and helps the body create vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy vision, especially night vision, and boosts the immune system. Carrots contain certain other carotenoids and phytonutrients that may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Also a source of disease-fighting flavonoids and a type of fiber that may help lower cholesterol, carrots grow naturally in a range of colors (red, yellow, and purple) and they are revered for the health benefits afforded by assorted pigmentation.
Kripalu Healthy Living faculty member Annie B. Kay shares her thoughts on carrots:
Carrots got a bad rap with the advent of the glycemic index (GI), because people mistakenly believed that its slightly high GI number meant that it acted like refined sugar in the body. Four cups of carrots contain 50 grams of carbohydrates (made up of both sugar and starches), the same number as four tablespoons of refined sugar. (GI numbers don’t take into account the difference in volume and when it comes to carrot nutrition, that makes all the difference.) Alpha-and beta-carotene (named for carrots), along with other phytonutrients and fiber, have proved carrots protective against cancer and other chronic diseases in study after study. Eat them in the context of a whole-foods diet (no more than 4 cups at a sitting!) and honor them for their sweetness and affordable nourishment.
Thankfully, carrots are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Raw carrots make a great snack to crunch on, or try the fantastic Kripalu carrot recipes below.
Preparation and cooking time: 35 minutes.
Cooling time variable.
Makes about 2 cups.
4 cups chopped carrots (approximately 7 medium carrots)
5 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup unsalted cashews
In a large saucepan, combine the carrots and water and bring to a boil. Add the salt. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until very soft. Drain and reserve the cooking water. Let the carrots cool.
In a blender or food processor, blend together the cooled carrots and cashews. (Check the consistency and add up to a ½ cup of the cooking water, if a lighter consistency is desired.) Serve with crackers, pita bread, or crudités.