WIld carrots appear throughout Europe and well into Asia. The exact origin of domestic carrots is obscure. They probably originated in the countries of the eastern Mediterranean, possibly even Afghanistan. The original ones were various colors, including white, yellow, purple and red. These colors are slowly being rebred and reintroduced to the culinary world and even some supermarkets. The orange carrots were developed in Holland and France at a much later date.
Although carrots bought in supermarkets are more or less identical, there is a lot of variety available to the Culinarian. Not only are there early carrots (often grown in frames) that are round, almost like radishes, there are others that are long and tapered. Others are just long but are cylindrical, with parallel sides and round ends. Shorter varieties are best for immediate use in the kitchen, while the longer ones store better.
As any rabbit knows, carrots are a fun, delicious and nutritious food.
A single serving of carrots is about 1 cup and contains 52 calories. Carrots have no fat and no cholesterol. As a low-calorie, low-fat food, carrots are a good choice for people watching their weight.
Carrots are mostly carbohydrates, with 12 grams per serving. Of the carbs in carrots, 4 grams are fiber. Carrots contain 1 gram of protein. They are also a low sodium food, containing 88 milligrams of this nutrient in 1 cup, an amount equal to only 4 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
Where carrots really shine is as a source of vitamin A. Other micronutrients found in carrots include calcium, thiamin, niacin, iron, vitamin B-6, vitamin E, riboflavin, folate, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin K, choline, phosphorus and potassium. A 1-cup serving of raw carrots also provides 4 grams of fiber. Adults need 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day, but the National Institutes of Health reports that most get roughly half that amount.
Research and Health Highlights…
The high levels of antioxidants in carrots, especially vitamin A, help promote good health overall and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Carrots’ big claim to fame in the health department, however, is their effect on vision. The high doses of vitamin A, a type of carotenoid, work synergistically with other components in carrots to improve vision overall, but are especially beneficial to night vision. Another phytonutrient in carrots, falcarinol, has been linked to protection from colon cancer.
One medium carrot contains 204 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin A, a vitamin found in animal and plant-based foods. In plant-based foods, this vitamin is produced by your body from the nutritional compound beta-carotene. This vitamin, also known as retinol, is responsible for maintaining the health of your eyes. Vitamin A helps your eyes retain their ability to adjust to changes in light and maintains necessary moisture and mucus levels of your eyes.
Vitamins K and C
Carrots are also a good source of vitamins K and C.
If you are hoping to raise your potassium intake, consider eating more carrots. One carrot contains 400 mg of potassium. The Institute of Medicine recommends that all adults consume 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day. According to the health website Organic Facts, potassium is the third-most-abundant mineral in your body. It may help reduce your risk of stroke, high blood pressure and anxiety. It helps to control your metabolism and improves the health of your muscles, heart and nervous system. Potassium also regulates electrolyte absorption and is necessary for proper hydration.