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Carrots are cultivated forms of the umbellifer Daucus carota and were valued as healthy vegetables in ancient times so that they spread from Western Europe to East Asia in various forms. In fact, carrots with their carotene, vitamins and minerals are among the healthiest vegetables and are ideal for strengthening the immune system and supporting essential body functions.
Profile of the carrot
- Scientific name: Daucus carota
- Common names: Garden carrot, carrot, carrot, yellow turnip, yellow turnip, turnip, field turnip, riebli, root
- family: Umbelliferae (Apiaceae)
- distribution: Global culture; Forms of origin come from the Mediterranean (white carrots) and from Afghanistan (yellow and red-violet variants). These forms were probably crossed in Asia Minor.
- Parts of plants used: The turnip (taproot)
- application areas:
- Strengthen the immune system
- Digestive problems
- Cell growth
- Blood formation
- Stabilization of gastric juices
Carrots - an overview
- Raw carrots are more filling than cooked ones.
- The main active ingredient in carrots is provitamin A (carotene), from which the carrot takes its name.
- This alpha and beta carotene is fat-soluble and works best in the body if you eat the carrots with oil, heat them and cut them into small pieces.
- Vitamin A promotes night vision, conversely, chronic vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness. Despite provitamin A, carrot is only of limited suitability for strengthening eyesight or counteracting vitamin A deficiency, since at least a dozen provitamin molecules are required to form a vitamin molecule.
- Carrot soup is a proven home remedy for diarrhea.
- Carrots can strengthen the immune system (vitamin C), smooth and healthy skin (vitamin E) and promote blood formation and prevent anemia (iron).
- Studies show that carrots tend to have effects in cancer prevention.
- Carrots have few calories and many vital substances and are therefore ideal for losing weight without developing a lack of nutrients.
Carrots are a very healthy food, and most of the ingredients are in the root bark. There is far more carotene and nitrate here than in the pulp. The orange, light or dark red to violet color depends on the variety and the weather, dyes are carotenoids, anthocyanins and chlorophyll.
The carotene content, provitamin A, after which the carrot is named, is the highest in vegetables - up to 30 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh root. Carrot contains citric acid, quinic acid, succinic acid and fumaric acid as fruit acids.
In addition to provitamin A in the form of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, carrots offer vitamins B1, B2 and B6, vitamin C to a high degree (strengthens the immune system), as well as vitamin E (strengthens skin and hair as well as the connective tissue and fights free radicals).
Vitamin A promotes eyesight, immune defense and cell growth. It helps the eye convert light into a signal that is sent to the brain, thus helping people to see in dim light. Conversely, this ability disappears when there is a lack of vitamin A. Minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc in the carrot.
Carrots are very low in calories with a calorific value of 26 kcal per 100 grams. 100 grams contain 0.2 grams of fat, one gram of protein, 4.8 grams of carbohydrates and 3.6 grams of fiber.
Carrots are particularly interesting in the context of a wholesome diet because of the high content of vitamin C, carotene, iron and potassium. Their properties are particularly evident when losing weight and in small children.
In children, carrots promote the formation of blood and teeth and the body's immune system. They are suitable for toddlers to correct indigestion: carrots have a moderately stuffing effect due to their high pectin content, but they are not so strong as to cause constipation. The essential oils also fight bacteria and thus act against minor infections in the stomach.
In the form of a healthy food (not as a medication), carrots prevent anemia caused by iron deficiency, help against diarrhea, internal inflammation, support the liver and the immune system. Carrots have traditionally been used as a means of stimulating the milk production of breastfeeding women and triggering menstruation.
Carotene, provitamin A, is the best known bioactive substance in carrots. The popular wisdom that carrots are good for eyesight also applies to vitamin A the other way round: up to 500,000 children go blind every year due to a lack of vitamin A, people in countries like Nepal or India are particularly affected.
It is unclear how many carrots someone would have to eat to effectively enhance their night vision. In any case, there is hardly any danger of overdosing, because with vitamin A this only occurs with a dose that is five times higher in the long term - and in food this can almost only be achieved by liver and cod liver oil. In addition, carotene is provitamin A, which is a precursor, and it takes approximately 12 to 21 beta-carotene molecules to produce a single vitamin A molecule.
If you suffer from a lack of vitamin A, you should therefore resort to vitamin A supplements instead of swallowing tons of carrots. In order to support the functions of the eyes through nutrition, doctors particularly recommend green leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach, which contains lutein and zeaxanthin.
Carotenoids in food have anti-cancer effects, due to their antioxidant effects they reduce free radicals in the body. A meta-analysis from Baltimore (2018) came to the conclusion that the regular consumption of carrots can reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Another meta study found that carotene can also reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. This applies particularly to adenocarcinomas, but only with a high intake of various carotenes, whereas an individual carotene such as beta-carotene did not have this effect. On the contrary, dietary supplementation with isolated beta-carotene should even increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
Carrots in folk medicine
Carrots are not medication, but food. At the same time, the carrot is a medicinal plant, because a balanced diet is the "best medicine" against many diseases. Their substances support the body in functioning and in its body's own defense systems, but do not fight existing diseases "precisely".
Raw grated carrot is suitable for a wrapper to relieve burns and provides a calming effect. This also applies to insect bites and (other) skin infections. Raw carrots were also a home remedy for worms in children.
Carrot seed tea (one teaspoon per cup of boiling water) is a traditional way to urinate, stimulate appetite, soothe colic and relieve menstrual cramps. Tea infusions from blooming carrot herb are said to help with dropsy.
Thoroughly chewing and pulling a carrot right after eating is a proven (and easy) way to remove germs, clean your teeth, and remove leftover food. Bleeding gums caused by germs can be prevented as well as tooth decay.
Carrot soup helps against diarrhea, even in young children. For this, cut or grate carrots as needed and cook them in vegetable broth. Small children often prefer pureed carrot soup.
A carrot soup can be supplemented in a variety of ways - with vegetables that are also rich in vitamins and minerals such as pumpkin, potatoes, zucchini, green, white or Brussels sprouts, with peas or lentils.
The transition from a carrot soup to a carrot stew is fluid, the only difference is that the stew contains more ingredients and is "heavier". The seasoning base often consists of onions, which are fried in butter. This also benefits the carrots, whose carotene can be better implemented by the body.
In Germany and neighboring countries, bacon, minced meat or sausages are usually included - we then speak of "hearty stew". Such home cooking is not very suitable for low-fat cuisine and for vegetarians, and the meat is also not necessary to conjure up a delicious carrot dish.
You can choose from a variety of carrot stew recipes, but basic harmonies are important for self-experiments. Carrot is perfectly compatible with
- Spring onions,
- Wild garlic,
- and shallots.
Celery is also suitable as a seasoning and vegetable (classic vegetable bases of a soup are carrot, leek, celery and parsley). The carrot goes well with potatoes, pearl barley, rice and pasta, with couscous and cereals. It also goes very well with other root vegetables such as turnips or parsley roots. Carrots go well with pumpkin and such a stew also has an appealing orange color.
To season the stew, are suitable
- black pepper,
- Cayenne pepper,
- Lovage (soup herb),
- fresh basil,
- and thyme.
With these herbs and spices you also add a number of bioactive ingredients. A pinch of sugar is also great if you fry the carrots in it. Children especially like that. If you want to give the stew an oriental touch, cumin, black cumin and turmeric are available as seasonings.
Fat and carotene
Carotene is one of the fat-soluble substances. So that your body can absorb the provitamin, you should always eat carrots with a little fat. You can also improve your carotene intake by chopping and cooking the carrots.
Carrots fit in many raw vegetable salads. Make sure that there is oil in the dressing or drip extra oil on the carrots so that the carotene unfolds in the body.
Carrot salad with apple - recipe for two:
- Place two tablespoons of rapeseed oil, three tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and four tablespoons of apple juice in a jar or shaker.
- Mix the ingredients together and season the dressing with iodized salt and pepper.
- Wash and peel two large carrots.
- Wash two apples and pat them dry.
- Now the carrots and apples (with skin, but without core) are roughly grated using a kitchen grater.
- Then quickly mix the grated carrot and apple in a bowl with the dressing so that the apple does not turn brown.
A salad of red beans, peppers, onions and carrot slices is more extensive. A dressing made of oil, vinegar, garlic, chilli and Mediterranean herbs goes well with this. If you like, sheep cheese is a tasty addition. Such a salad saturates quickly, is rich in fiber, promotes digestion and contains many vitamins and minerals.
Carrot is so versatile that it even tastes good in cakes. Many cake recipes contain grated carrots, whole grain flour, apple pieces and orange juice, as well as grated nuts or sunflower seeds.
Carrots don't last long. Freshly bought, the leaves wither after a few days, the roots become rubbery instead of crunchy and turn dark. They last up to ten days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator.
Tip: Cut the green cabbage off the bunch of carrots and wrap them in a damp cloth. You can blanch and freeze the fresh vegetables so that you always have carrots available. The most important nutrients are preserved. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
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- Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL): Served up! Guide to nutrition, shopping and food (available on March 18, 2020), BMEL
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