I have this vivid memory from when I was little which involved carrots. My aunt was just as much of a health nut as I am. She was a runner, a strict vegetarian, and was always in the “know” with health and nutrition. To this day, she’s just as crazy about health, which is exciting, because we can speak the same language 🙂
I’d have to say she probably has so much to do with why I love to be in the kitchen. We’d spend days together in her kitchen baking and making jello. I have this very fond memory of her and carrots. Every time I’d be with her I’d always see her chewing on this HUGE giant carrot. Then one day, she finally gave me my own 🙂 I remember feeling so “adult-like” to have my own carrot. Ha!
This recipe reminds me of that time in my life.
I firmly believe in joining positive memories with food. I do not believe in shunning the love of food. As I grew, I adopted this belief system, and paired it with foods that were NOT serving to my health and wellbeing. Today, I believe we can indulge in the foods with love with modified preparation, only allowing us to continue to build loving relationships with foods that can restore our bodies.
The point in falling in love with your food is to fall in love with yourself, vice versa. I don’t believe in the belief system of dietary restriction or deprivation, because from my own experience, that shi* just doesn’t work!
What makes carrots SO amazing?
These awesome sticks of orange are not only greatly beneficial for vision, but they’re also incredible for cardiovascular health. They’re rich in antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body, preventing cell and tissue damage, which could lead to cellular damage and disease.
When you’re purchasing carrots, don’t just stick with simple, plain, and traditional orange carrots. Get creative, and let some more color in your life! Carrots are grown in a great array of colors!
- Orange Carrots
- Scarlet Nantes (especially valued for its sweetness)
- Danvers (often raised for processing)
- Camden (often raised for processing)
- Other popular varieties include Navajo, Sirkana, Top Cut and Inca
- Purples Carrots
- Purple Dragon
- Cosmic Purple
- Purple Haze
- Yellow Carrots
- Solar Yellow
- White Carrots
- Creme De Lite
- White Satin
- Red Carrots
- Supreme Chateney
- Red Samurai
Key Benefits of Carrots
Cardiovascular Benefits of Carrots
Given their antioxidant richness, it’s not surprising to find numerous research studies documenting the cardiovascular benefits of carrots. Our cardiovascular system needs constant protection from antioxidant damage. This is particularly true of our arteries, which are responsible for carrying highly oxygenated blood.
A recent study from the Netherlands, in which participants were followed for a period of 10 years, has given us some fascinating new information about carrots and our risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In this study, intake of fruits and vegetables was categorized by color. The researchers focused on four color categories: green, orange/yellow, red/purple, and white. Out of these four categories, orange/yellow (and in particular, foods with deeper shades of orange and yellow) was determined to be the most protective against CVD. Within this dark orange/yellow food group, carrots were determined to be the single most risk-reducing food. Participants who had the least carrot intake had the least amount of CVD risk reduction, even though they still received risk-reducing benefits from their carrot intake. However, participants who ate at least 25 more grams of carrots (with 25 grams being less than one-quarter of a cup) had a significantly lower risk of CVD. And the groups of participants who ate 50- or 75-grams more had an even more greatly reduced risk of CVD! We’re not sure how any study could better demonstrate how easy it can be to lower CVD risk by making a food like carrot part of the everyday diet.
Antioxidant nutrients in carrots are believed to explain many of the cardioprotective benefits provided by these root vegetables. The many different kinds of carrot antioxidants are most likely to work together and provide us with cardiovascular benefits that we could not obtain from any of these antioxidants alone if they were split apart and consumed individually, in isolation from each other. The synergistic effect of carrot antioxidants is a great example of a whole food and its uniqueness as a source of nourishment.
Yet in addition to the diverse mixture of carrot antioxidants, there is yet another category of carrot phytonutrient that is believed to help explain carrot protection against cardiovascular disease.That category is polyacetylenes. Polyacetylenes are unique phytonutrients made from metabolism of particular fatty acids (often involving crepenynic acid, stearolic acid and tariric acid). They are particularly common in the Apiaceae/Umbelliferae family of plants (which includes carrot). The two best-researched polyacetylenes in carrot are falcarinol and falcarindiol. Preliminary research on animals and in the lab has shown that carrot polyacetylenes have anti-inflammatory properties and anti-aggregatory properties (that help prevent excessive clumping together of red blood cells). So in addition to the unique mix of antioxidants in carrot, polyacetylenes may play a key role in the cardiovascular protection provided by this amazing food.
Vision Health Benefits of Carrots
While you might expect to find a large number of human research studies documenting the benefits of carrot intake for eye health, there are relatively few studies in this area. Most studies about carotenoids and eye health have focused on carotenoid levels in the bloodstream and the activities of the carotenoids themselves, rather than the food origins of carotenoids (like carrots). Still, we have found some smaller scale human studies that show clear benefits of carrot intake for eye health. For example, researchers at the Jules Stein Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles determined that women who consume carrots at least twice per week – in comparison to women who consume carrots less than once per week – have significantly lower rates of glaucoma (damage to the optic nerve often associated with excessive pressure inside the eye). Intake of geranyl acetate – one of the photonutrients that is present in carrot seeds (and sometimes extracted from purified carrot seed oil) has also been repeatedly associated with reduced risk of cataracts in animal studies. However, researchers have yet to analyze the amount of geranyl acetate in the root portion of the carrot and the impact of dietary intake on risk of cataracts.
Anti-Cancer Benefits of Carrots
The anti-cancer benefits of carrot have been best researched in the area of colon cancer. Some of this research has involved actual intake of carrot juice by human participants, and other research has involved the study of human cancer cells types in the lab. While much more research is needed in this area, the study results to date have been encouraging. Lab studies have shown the ability of carrot extracts to inhibit the grown of colon cancer cells, and the polyacetylenes found in carrot (especially falcarinol) have been specifically linked to this inhibitory effect. In studies of carrot juice intake, small but significant effects on colon cell health have been shown for participants who consumed about 1.5 cups of fresh carrot juice per day.
We’re confident that future studies in this area will show carrot intake as being protective against risk of colon cancer. Carrots are simply too rich in digestive tract-supporting fiber, antioxidant nutrients, and unique phytonutrients like falcarinol to be neutral when it comes to support of the lower digestive tract and colon cancer protection.
So with all of these amazing benefits, lets whip up some curried carrot 🙂 !
1 cup Raw Carrot
1/3 cup Sunflower Seeds
2 tsp Lemon juice
1 whole Garlic Clove
1/2 tsp Fresh Ginger
1/8 tsp Vietnamese Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Corriander
1/4 tsp Ground Fennel
1/4 tsp Pink Sea Salt
1/8 tsp Fine Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric
1/2 cup Purified Water
Soak your sunflower seeds ahead of time in warm purified water for a least a few hours. These little seeds are quite dirty!
Drain and rinse your sunflower seeds thoroughly.
Peel and cut your carrots, then toss them into the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
Using your high speed blender, puree all of your ingredients until smooth.
Taste and add extra lemon (or water) if needed with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
For a thinner dip, add more water or lemon.
Delicious over rice, as a salad dressing, dip, and delicious with sourdough bread!
This could even be made as a large batch of curried carrot soup!