The History of Carrots
The carrot was originally cultivated in central Asian and Middle Eastern countries thousands of years ago, along with parts of Europe. Carrots became widely cultivated in Europe and introduced in North America during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Carrots belong to the Apiaceae family, the same botanical family that includes parsley, anise, celery, parsnips, fennel, caraway, cumin and dill. The name “carrot” comes from the Greek word “karoton,” whose first three letters (kar) are used to designate anything with a horn-like shape, a reference to the root.
Crunchy Health Food
Carrot roots have a crunchy texture and a sweet and minty aromatic taste, while the greens are fresh tasting and slightly bitter. While we usually associate carrots with the color orange, carrots can actually be found in a host of other colors including white, yellow, red, or purple. Surprisingly only 3% of the β-carotene in raw carrots is released during digestion which can be improved to 39% by pulping, cooking and adding cooking oil.
The Top 25 Health Secrets of Carrots
Carrots are perhaps best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient, beta-carotene, that was actually named after them. However, these delicious root vegetables are the source not only of beta-carotene, but also of a wide variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients.
- Acidosis: The vital organic alkaline elements in carrots purify and revitalize the blood helping balance the acid alkaline ratio and overall blood sugar.
- Fights Anemia: The molecular structure of Carrot is very similar to your hemoglobin molecules rendering it effective for producing and maintaining healthy levels of this vital element in your blood.
- Anti-Ageing: Vitamin C aids production of collagen, a type of protein vital for maintaining skin elasticity and suppleness, and preventing wrinkles and pigmentation. The antioxidant beta carotene (converted to Vitamin A by your body) attacks the free radicals to reverse/delay signs of ageing.
- Antiseptic: Carrots have excellent antiseptic qualities and hence used as laxatives, vermicides and as a remedy for liver conditions.
- Prevents Atherosclerosis: Potassium, in carrots, is a vasodilator that relaxes your blood vessels and arteries, boosts blood flow, circulation, overall organ function, and reduces the stress on the cardiovascular system. High blood pressure is also directly linked to atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks.
- Eases Hypertension: Carotenoids regulate blood sugar and potassium helps balance the high levels of sodium that cause hypertension, and controls blood pressure. The coumarin found in carrots also has been linked to reducing hypertension and protecting your heart health.
- Anti-Carcinogenic: The poly-acetylene antioxidants, falcarinol (natural pesticide to protect its roots against fungal attacks) and falcarindiol, fight against cancers by destroying pre-cancerous cells in the tumors reducing the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.
- Calcium Source: Carrots contain calcium which is vital for the growth and development of bones in children and women.
- Cardiovascular Benefits: Studies prove that a combination of elements carotenoids, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein, abundant in carrots shields the heart from diseases. Carrots reduce cholesterol levels because the soluble fibers in carrots bind with bile acids and flush them out of the system. Also pectin in carrots lowers the serum cholesterol levels.
- Eases Congestion: Carrot juice is very effective in dispelling mucus from the ear, nose and throat area, providing relief in nasal congestion, sinusitis, phlegm and other similar disorders.
- Fights Diabetes: Carotenoids fight insulin resistance, regulates the amount of insulin and glucose that is being used and metabolized by the body, preventing unhealthy fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
- Dental Health: Carrots scrape off plaque and food particles, stimulate the gums, and facilitate the formation of ample saliva which helps balance the acid-forming and cavity-forming bacteria. The minerals present in carrots kill harmful germs in the mouth and prevent tooth decay.
- Detox: Vitamin A assists the liver in flushing out toxins from the body and reducing the accumulation of bile and fat in the liver. The soluble fiber, on the other hand, cleanses the colon by facilitating waste elimination.
- Digestive Health: Rich in fiber, carrots help regularize bowel movements, aid digestion, effect weight loss, and cure constipation and acid re-flux.
- Emphysema: Emphysema is a type of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) involving damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs resulting in lack of oxygen. Carrot consumption alleviates symptoms of Emphysema resulting from excessive smoking (also passive smoking).
- Eyesight/Vision: Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, provide special protction against astigmatism, glaucoma, macular degeneration, night blindness and senile cataracts. Beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A which in turn gets converted in the retina to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision.
- Improves Fertility: One of the reasons for infertility is lack of nutrients and enzymes in your dietary. Carrot juice taken regularly is able to nourish your body back to fertility.
- Fights Hair Loss: Vitamin C and Vitamin E in carrots improve circulation in the scalp, thus promoting hair growth and prevent premature greying of hair.
- Healing Qualities: Carrots possess anti inflammatory healing qualities that help treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout and other inflammations. Raw or grated carrots applied to wounds or cuts alleviates healing, and helps revitalize and tone the skin.
- Immune Booster: Carrots contain a number of antiseptic and antibacterial abilities that make it ideal for boosting the immune system. Carrots are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, a key element in the human immune system.
- Eases Menstruation: Carrot juice contains phytoestrogen that helps relieve menstrual pain, regularize heavy menstrual flow and in post-menopausal women gets rid of hot flushes and stabilizes other menopausal symptoms.
- For Nursing mothers: Carrot juice works as a galactagogue, enhancing quality and quantity of breast milk production in lactating mothers, in early postnatal days.
- During Pregnancy: Carrots aid in the proper development of the fetus and reduce the risk of fetal infections and miscarriage, during pregnancy. Drinking carrot juice especially the last trimester of pregnancy lowers the chances of baby getting infected by jaundice.
- Skin Problems: The antioxidants, carotenoids, Vitamin A (converted from beta carotene), and Vitamin C, efficiently nourish the skin preventing/curing psoriasis, blemishes, scars, acne, rashes, dermatitis and sun burns. Potassium keeps the skin hydrated and its effective detox action removes toxicity from the blood.
- Other Benefits: One small cup of carrot juice in the morning taken daily for a week helps clear up thread worms in children. The abundance of nutrients present in carrots help nourish cells that have been starved of nutrients which result in ulcers. Carrot juice is diuretic and helps to eliminate excess fluids from the body, reducing water retention, especially for women during their monthly menstruation cycle and in pregnant women.