Carrots are often thought of as the ultimate health food. But how did the carrot get such a good reputation & why are they so good for our health?
Health Benefits of Eating Carrots
- Improved vision due to Beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina to rhodopsin, a pigment necessary for night vision.
- Preventing Macular Degeneration and assisting eye health thanks to the high Beta-carotene levels.
- Helping to give a healthy glowing skin as the Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, uneven skin tone and blemishes.
- Preventing strokes.
- A powerful antiseptic as used by herbalists on cuts and grazes.
- Anti ageing due to the antioxidant properties of beta-carotene slowing down the ageing of cells.
- Helping to cleanse the body as the Vitamin A assists the liver in flushing out toxins from the body and the fibre content helps clean out the colon and hasten waste movement.
- Preventing heart disease as diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
- Helping in the prevention of lung, breast and colon cancer.
- Healthy teeth and gums by the cleansing action and saliva stimulation which forms an alkaline environment balancing out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria.
Carrots are such a versatile vegetable and can be enjoyed raw, steamed, boiled, roasted and as an ingredient in soups and stews. Carrots are a popular vegetable to juice because of their sweet, mild flavour.
Here are a couple of recipes to incorporate carrots into your diet:
Carrot, Parsnip & Lentil Soup
75g (3oz) green lentils
2 tbsp. oil
175-200g (6-7oz) Chorizo sausage (omit for vegetarian)
350g (12oz) onions, peeled & roughly chopped
225g (8oz) carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
225g (8oz) parsnips, peeled & roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1.7 litres (3 pints) vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
A few thyme sprigs
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Serves 6 Preparation: 20 minutes plus soaking Cooking Time: 55 minutes
- Soak the lentils in double their volume of cold water for 6 hours or overnight.
- Heat the oil in a large pan, add the chorizo sausage (if using) and cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon & set aside. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 10 mins or until soft and golden.
- Add the carrots, parsnips, cumin & drained lentils and cook, stirring, for 5 mins. Stir in the stock, bay leaves & thyme. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins or until the vegetables are tender.
- Cool slightly, remove the herbs & puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.
- Return the soup to the wiped-out pan, bring back to the boil & correct the seasoning. Serve with the reserved chorizo. Cubes of bread tossed in a little oil & baked in the oven till crisp, make a tasty garnish, combining well with the chorizo if used.
Suitable for the following diets: Nut-free, Dairy Produce-Free, Diabetic
Try this light summer salad as an accompaniment to grilled fish or meat. It would also make a lovely side dish for a barbecue.
Carrot & Courgette Salad
225g (8oz) carrots, peeled
150g (5oz) courgettes, trimmed
25g (1oz) raisins
25g (1oz) lightly toasted sunflower seeds
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small garlic clove, peeled & crushed
3 tbsp. chives, chopped
Serves 4 Preparation: 10 minutes
- Coarsely grate the carrots & courgettes & transfer to a serving bowl: if you use a food processor to grate the carrots & courgettes, put them in a sieve & allow the excess liquid to drain off before transferring to the serving bowl.
- To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Stir the raisins into the grated vegetables with the sunflower seeds. Pour the dressing over, toss well & serve.
Suitable for the following diets: Gluten-free, Low-fat, Nut-free, Low-cholesterol, Low-calorie, Dairy Produce-free, Diabetic.
If you would like regular health & nutrition updates tailored for the over 50s, why not follow us on Facebook.