- Emirhan Turan
Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits of Carrot (Daucus carota L.)
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
by Emirhan Turan, 4 May, 2020
The carrot (Daucus carota L) is a root vegetable belonging to the Apiaceae family. There are nearly 60 different species under the Daucus genus. Carrot is being mentioned in the last years due to their high antioxidant bioactive compounds that have been used in the pharmaceutical industry as a big source of carotenoids and dietary fibers
There are some traces that yellow and black carrots originated about 5000 years ago in Middle Asia around Afghanistan, and slowly spread into the Mediterranean area. Some evidence shown that the carrot was important for Egyptians as well, as some traces of carrots were found in some pharaohs tombs. Ancient Greeks used the carrot instead of medicine, while Romans used the carrot more for consumption but also as medical dressing (due to its aphrodisiac effect) with some essential oils. In traditional Chinese medicine, carrots have been used for lungs, moisture prevention, and eye care. The records of orange color carrots which are mainly used in our times have been found in the 15th century.
In the present times, carrots are the most known vegetables after potatoes due to the interest in European countries. Mostly carrots are known in their orange color, however, there are more different colors such as black, purple, red, white, and yellow. The pigment that gives the black and purple colors are coming from higher anthocyanin concentration (1,750 mg/kg). The major anthocyanins in carrot roots have been identified as cyanidin 3- (2-xylosylgalactoside), cyanidin 3-xylosylglucosylgalactoside, and cyanidin 3-erulylxyloglucosyl galactoside.
Carrot is rich in β-carotene, ascorbic acid and tocopherol and is classified as vitaminized food. Due to appreciable level of a variety of different compounds present, carrots are considered as a functional food with significant health-promoting properties.
The free sugars identified in carrots are sucrose, glucose, xylose, and fructose. The taste of carrots is mainly due to the presence of glutamic acid and the buffering action of free amino acids.
Apart from carrot roots being traditionally used in salad or snacks, there is a wide variety of processed carrot foods or/and ingredients: juices, concentrates, dried powders, canned, preserved, candies, pickled. Carrot pomace containing about 50% of β-carotene could profitably be utilized for the supplementation of products like cakes, breads, biscuits, and preparation of several types of functional products.
Flu shot juices are being made in Turkey that includes carrot together with orange, lemon, ginger, and turmeric. Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, that turns into vitamin A in the body and enhance the immunity. The orange and the lemon are high in vitamin C to boost the immune system. The ginger is anti-viral, and the turmeric is antimicrobial, which makes the juice mixture a ‘bomb shot’ for the flu and typical influenza viruses.
Many people believe that the leaves of carrots are not edible due to the alkaloid content, however, they are enriched with nearly 6 times of Vitamin C than the roots and have high potassium (blood pressure level maintenance), calcium and chlorophyll (useful for skin) content. In recent years, carrot tops have been used to make sauce or have been put in salads, even they have a bitter taste for some people it adds more special flavor.
For easier and quicker solution of essential vitamins, nutrients and antioxidant intake compared to full sized grown carrot plants, carrots can be grown as microgreens (2.5-7 cm tall) within 7-14 days after sowing.
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