Carrot – A Root Vegetable Useful for Health

Carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange color, though other different colors such as yellow, purple, red, white, are also exist. The biggest one can be from 30-35cm. Carrot is sweet, warm, dry, appetizer and a bit bitter. In the early time, carrot together with parsley, fennel, dill, and cumin were grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Carrot is grouped into two broad classes, Eastern carrots and Western carrots. Eastern carrots were originated in central Asia (present day Iran and Afghanistan) in the 10th century or even earlier. It’s has been recognized by its purple or yellow skin and often have branches roots. Western carrot emerged in the Netherlands in the 17th century. It come in orange color which resulted in abundant of carotene. By their root types, western carrot is classified into many different cultivars:

1. Chantenay carrots are shorter, growing up to 8cm in diameter, have greater girth, broad shoulder, and round tip.

2. Danvers carrots with a conical shape, having well-defined shoulders and tapering to a point at the tip.

3. Imperator carrots are longer than other cultivars, taper to a point at the tip.

4. Nantes carrots are sweeter than other, having nearly cylindrical in shape, and are blunt and rounded at both the top and tip.

Use of Carrots in Food

Carrot and lotus root prepared for soup

Carrot can be eaten in a variety of ways either eaten raw in salads or chopped and boiled, fried, steamed, cooked in soups and stews. The cooked carrot is pounded to be baby and pet foods. In Khmer salads such as green mango salad, lotus rootlet salad, carrot is a complement vegetables giving additional flavor as well as color to the salads. Anytime people thinking of cooking soup, they never miss carrot. Carrot juice is also popular as a health drink, it’s sometimes mixed with other fruits or vegetables juice. There are also carrot cake and carrot pudding. Baby carrots are crispy and eaten as snack.

Benefits of Carrots for Health

Carrots is very benefit for health, but we must know how much to use it. Massive consumption of carrots can cause carotenosis, a first symptom in which the skin turns orange.

Carrot contain large amount of carotene (pro-vitamin A) , about 2000 to 4300 I.U/100gm. After eaten, it will be easily metabolized by the body into vitamin A in bowel and liver. In addition, carrots are also among foods rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants and minerals.

Rich in antioxidants

Carrots

Carrots have many important antioxidants such as beta carotene, alpha carotene, phenolic acid, glutathione … which has been proven to reduce risk of many diseases such as heart disease, cancer and develop the ability to protect skin regeneration. Carrot juice is a richest source of vitamin A nutrition. Due to the high levels of beta carotene and rich of other vitamins and minerals, carrot juice has ability to prevent certain diseases. Carrot juice is also a rich source of nutrition and vitamin B, C as well as calcium, pectin, potentially reducing
cholesterol in the blood. The beta carotene will be converted into vitamin A. It is important to increase immune system, stimulates the development of healthy cells.

Contribute to Cancer

André Nkondjock and Parviz Ghadirian from the research units epidemiological studies of the Hotel-Dieu (Montreal) announced a study on 5,183 people, including 462 who were having pancreatic cancer. The results indicate that lycopene of tomato (red pigment) and beta carotene (yellow pigment) has brought the protection against this type of cancer.

Tomato lycopene reduces 31% the risk of pancreatic cancer of men. Since the cause is unknown, it seems that women do not benefit as much as men from the protective properties of this pigment. However, beta carotene of carrots, can reduced 43% risk of pancreatic cancer in women than in men. With smokers, the study results that protective effect disappeared. Well cooked tomato benefits
than raw tomatoes because lycopene dissolves in lipid, one will more easily absorbed if taken with fat. Beta carotene precursor of vitamin A, just like lycopene, it is easily absorbed with the presence of fat. Both pigments play important role in the antioxidant compounds of carotenoid.

But too much of carrots would be harmful.

There was a case of a 29 months old girl, was admitted to hospital in the situation that blood can not transport oxygen to tissues in the body caused blue lips, blue limbs and the whole body, heart beating fast. The results of clinical examination has suspected that the little girl was having blood methemoglobine (have no oxygen-carrying capacity to the tissues). About 30 minutes after detoxify blood methemoglobine, the girl became less blue lips, limbs and body turned to be rose again after an hour.

The reason was that the girl like eating carrot, so her mom have offered her both raw and cooked carrot, and eaten continuously many days. Thus her body effected nitrate contamination, causing blood methemoglobine by not provide enough oxygen for respiration, blood transition in tissues. Normally, there are a lot of water and chemicals such as nitrates, after enter the body, it can oxidant hemoglobin into methemoglobin (solution of ferric iron and ferrous iron) and then the methemoglobin through enzyme system have changed into hemoglobin reductase. In case too many methemoglobin, the reduction system could not work on time, patients would be poisoned by losing the capacity of carrying oxygen to blood.

It should be noted that children are very susceptible to nitrate poisoning in carrots, beetroot, because the glaze reduction system is weak.

In summary, although carrots are a nutritious food but also should not over eat continuously, unless it’s for treating specific diseases. Because of the high level of carotene in carrot, the body could not convert it all into vitamin A, which will cause accumulation and retention of carotene in liver causing jaundice, dyspepsia, fatigue. Therefore, normally children should eat carrot only 2-3 times a week, and only 50g per time. Women can eat 100 – 150g a day.

Use of Carrots for Some Diseases

- Carrots restore vision: lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision, and this can be restored by eating it back in diet.

- Carrots work to lower blood pressure, lower sugar, lower cholesterol, prevent poison mercury. People with mercury poisoning should generally ate carrots. (2-3 times per week)

- Carrots contain vitamin B1, B2, B6 and minerals, calcium, magnesium,
manganese, iron, copper… These are substances that the body is indispensable.

- Treating Nephritis: take 0.5 kg washed carrot, pounded, extracting for the water and drink three times daily. This also effective in treating high blood pressure.

- Treating high blood pressure: get fresh carrots washed, pressed for drinking water. Taking two times, each 100ml daily.

- Treating damaged or weak spleen, poor digestion: carrots cooked with rice as rice soup of about 200g of carrot daily.

- Treatment of constipation: 500g of carrot pressing for juice, add some honey. Drink once a day in the morning or evening.

- Treating night blindness, dryness of the cornea: eat boiling carrots daily (from 200-300g), or stir-fried carrot with pig liver serving with rice.

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