The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following nutrient content descriptors for carrots: fat free, saturated fat free, low-sodium, cholesterol-free, a good source of fiber and high in vitamin A.
Carrots are nutritional goldmines of SEVERAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS, treasure troves of carotene in particular. No other fruit or vegetable is known to contain as much carotene as carrots (which your body biochemically converts to vitamin A, see THIS LINK FOR Vit A functions in the body ). This is a great low-calorie vegetable and an excellent source of vitamins B and C as well as calcium pectate, an extraordinary pectin fiber that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Carrots are basically roots that contain 87% water, are rich in many minerals, and when eaten raw are also natural sources of vitamins A and potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine, folic acid, and magnesium. Even when cooked, carrots provide an excellent source of vitamin A, potassium, and contain decent amounts of vitamin B6, copper, folic acid, and magnesium. The high level of beta-carotene is very important as the Vitamin A source and is the natural substance that gives carrots their distinctive orange color.
Carrots also contain, in smaller amounts, essential oils, carbohydrates and nitrogenous composites. They are well-known for their sweetening, antianemic, wound healing, diuretic, and mild sedative properties. Although it may seem counterintuitive, in order to assimilate the greatest quantity of the nutrients present in carrots, it is important to chew them well, AND they are the exception to the “COOKED-VS.-FRESH” rule : they are more nutritious cooked than raw. Why is this? Click THIS LINK FOR MORE INFO ON COOKED NUTRIENTS IN CARROTS
Also most of the goodness is actually in, or just below the skin. Carrots are one of the best sources of carotene which is a strong antioxidant, but carrots also contain other phenolic compounds that are antioxidants. Many people do not realize that numerous phenolic compounds are located in the skin of fruit and vegetables, many of which are removed by peeling prior to processing. The real trick about carrots though is that less than10% of the nutritional value of the carrot is available if it is eaten whole or in large pieces. In order for our bodies to be able to assimilate the nutritional content, they must be either fully chewed or juiced before consumption. With this in mind, using the carrot puree is the most nutritious form of the carrot based on what we actually can assimilate from the root. Whether it is fresh, raw, or pureed whole will boil down to (Heh! No pun intended) consumption, and with the whole skin and all. The carrot puree is reported by some to tend to have a bitter taste, especially with older/larger carrots. I personally have not found this to be the case and after a good scrub with a vegetable brush, I cut off the greens or the stump and puree the whole scrubbed carrot, with young carrots I don’t find any bitterness, especially when spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon, etc. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the whole carrot puree adds a more robust flavor to the cake.
For those of you that take blood thinners, the greens of the carrot are edible, but contain large amounts of Vitamin K, consider them as you would spinach or other dark greens in your diet (to be avoided unless they have been a regular part of your diet and your Coumadin dose has been adjusted while consuming these greens). Vitamin K is NOT found in significant amounts in the carrot root itself, so they will be OK to consume while taking Coumadin.
I bet you all feel like a round of Trivial Pursuits now…