By Cora Rivard, N.D.
Available throughout most of the year, carrots are a staple of a healthy diet and a well-known source of Vitamin A. Contrary to popular notion, Vitamin A is not a single nutrient, but a group of related nutrients: retinols and carotenoids. Our bodies require retinol for supporting a healthy immune system among other biological functions. Retinols are found in animal foods, but the body can also make retinol from carotenoids. Carotenoids are largely found in fruits and vegetables- think of the yellow, orange and red colors of the rainbow as a handy guide: carrots, butternut squash, cantaloupe, Bell peppers, and sweet potatoes, to name a few! Spinach and other dark leafy greens can also be a great source.
Carotenoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties help curb processes that can lead to illness and chronic disease. Bonus: The human body does a great job converting carotenoids into retinoid forms within the body. This means that having a daily dose of carrots or other high carotenoid food is a real boost to the immune system and other systems that help protect you from illness. They will also protect your eyesight, and help keep your skin glowing and youthful.
When purchasing carrots, look for organic bunches with deep green tops and firm bodies. All colors of carrots (yellow, red, white, purple, orange) are good for your health. All varieties are delicious! Carrots may be enjoyed raw, steamed, or in a stir-fry dish. Boiling is not recommended as that can deplete nutrient density. You can also use carrots in fermenting recipes, pickling, and add to broth or stew. Shredded carrots can be added into cake or cookie recipes, ground-meat or meatless entrees such as meatloaf and burgers. The possibilities are carrot-astic!
Gaby, Alan. (2011). Nutritional Medicine. Concord, N.H. Fritz Perlberg Publishing.
Cleveland Clinic “Reasons Why Carrots (all varieties) are Healthy for You.” Retrieved on 12 Sep 2021: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/reasons-why-carrots-of-all-colors-are-healthy-for-you/