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The cultivated carrot as we know it today is a far cry from the wild carrot found growing about 5,000 years ago in the area now known as Afghanistan. These wild varieties were purple or black, and had a tough, fibrous texture. Carrots only became orange in the 1500's when patriotic Dutch growers developed a carrot in an attempt to nationalize the country's favorite vegetable.
In 1940, Britain's Air Ministry invented the carrot myth, which was that a diet of carrots gave pilots night vision in order to see Nazi bombers attacking at night. This propaganda was spread to conceal the fiercely kept secret of Royal Air Force's interception radar, which was able to pinpoint enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel. The Germans fell for these lies because this myth was already a part of their folklore.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are also a very good source of vitamin K, biotin, and fiber as well as vitamins C and B6, potassium, and thiamin.
Nutrient Values of Raw Carrots per 100g
Energy Value: 173kj
Total Fat: 0.24g
Dietary Fiber: 2.8g
Vitamin C: 5.9mg
Vitamin E: 0.66mg
Vit. B3 (Niacin): 0.983mg
Vit. B6: 0.138mg
Vit. B1 (Thiamin): 0.066mg
Vit. B2 (Riboflavin): 0.058mg
In a study to determine the Glycemic Index (GI) of various vegetables, it was concluded that raw carrots have a GI of 47, as opposed to beets at 64 or white potatoes around 80.
A recent study of 1,155 women suggests that higher intake of certain fruits and vegetables such as carrots may be associated with a decreased risk of glaucoma. Beta-carotene provides protection against macular degeneration and the development of cataracts in the elderly. The results of studies of night-blind pregnant women showed that a diet of vitamin A rich foods like carrots was beneficial in improving night blindness.
Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds, and in a 15-year study on elderly Dutch men, it was concluded that dietary intakes of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene from carrots and other vegetables help protect against cardiovascular disease.
In another study that examined the diets of 1,300 elderly persons, those who had at least one serving of carrots and/or squash each day had a 60 percent reduction in risk of heart attacks compared to those who ate less than one serving of these carotenoid-rich foods per day.
The Cancer Connection
High carotene intake has been linked with a 20 percent decrease in postmenopausal breast cancer and up to a 50 percent decrease in the incidence of cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus. Extensive human studies suggest that a diet including as little as one carrot per day could conceivably cut the rate of lung cancer in half.
Reprinted from www.elements4health.com
Want to give your kids the benefits of carrots? Check out First Juice, a vegetable/juice blend for toddlers that's based on carrot juice (both orange & purple carrots). It's certified organic and low in sugar. Available at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores; for more info visit www.firstjuice.com
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