|Food||Percentage of DRI per 100 grams|
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Carrots provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Carrots can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Carrots, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
- Health Benefits
- How to Select and Store
- Tips for Preparing and Cooking
- How to Enjoy
- Individual Concerns
- Nutritional Profile
Carrots are perhaps best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient that was actually named for them: beta-carotene. However, these delicious root vegetables are the source not only of beta-carotene, but also of a wide variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients. The areas of antioxidant benefits, cardiovascular benefits, and anti-cancer benefits are the best-researched areas of health research with respect to dietary intake of carrots.
All varieties of carrots contain valuable amounts of antioxidant nutrients. Included here are traditional antioxidants like vitamin C, as well as phytonutrient antioxidants like beta-carotene. The list of carrot phytonutrient antioxidants is by no means limited to beta-carotene, however. This list includes:
- Hydroxycinnamic acids
- caffeic acid
- coumaric acid
- ferulic acid
Different varieties of carrots contain differing amounts of these antioxidant phytonutrients. Red and purple carrots, for example, are best known for the rich anthocyanin content. Oranges are particularly outstanding in terms of beta-carotene, which accounts for 65% of their total carotenoid content. In yellow carrots, 50% of the total carotenoids come from lutein. You're going to receive outstanding antioxidant benefits from each of these carrot varieties!
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.
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.
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.
As one of the most popular root vegetables in the U.S. - and widely enjoyed in many other countries as well - carrots almost feel like an old friend for many people who are looking for just the right crunchy snack or addition to a salad. We've even seen one study of 8-11 year-old children in France who were given pictures of 54 vegetables and were mostly likely to pick out carrots (along with lettuce and tomatoes) as easily identifiable and likeable vegetables. In the U.S., there seems to be an equal liking for carrots at the other end of the age spectrum as well. Individuals 76 years of age and older eat twice as many carrots as individuals under 40, with the overall average being about 1 cup of carrots per week.
It's easiest to identify carrots as belonging to the Umbelliferae family of plants, since their leafy greens form an umbrella-like cluster at the top of the root. However, this same family of plants is also commonly known as the Apiaceae family. While the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature accepts both designations, the use of Apiaceae is becoming more and more common in carrot research. This same botanical family includes parsley, anise, celery, parsnips, fennel, caraway, cumin and dill.
The name "carrot" comes from the Greek word "karoton," whose first three letters (kar) are used to designate anything with a horn-like shape. (That horn-like shape, of course, refers to the taproot of the carrot that is the plant part we're most accustomed to consuming in the U.S.). The beta-carotene that is found in carrots was actually named for the carrot itself!
Even though U.S. consumers are most familiar with carrots as root vegetables bright orange in color, an amazing variety of colors are found worldwide for this vegetable. (All of these color varieties, however, still belong to the same genus and species of plant, Daucus carota.) Here is a short list of some of the more popular carrot varieties, categorized by color:
- 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
The carrot can trace its ancestry back thousands of years, originally having been cultivated in central Asian and Middle Eastern countries, along with parts of Europe. These original carrots looked different from those that we are accustomed to today, featuring red, purple, and yellow coloring rather than the bright orange that we've become accustomed to in U.S. supermarkets. Carrots became widely cultivated in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries and were first brought over to North America during this same general time period.
In today's commercial marketplace, China currently produces about one-third of all carrots bought and sold worldwide. Russia is the second largest carrot producer, with the U.S. following a close third. Many European countries produce substantial amounts of carrots (over 400,000 metric tons) and Turkey, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Australia and Canada are also important countries in the worldwide production of carrots. Within the U.S., about 12,000 acres of carrots for processing are planted each year, resulting in about 320,000 tons of carrots. Over 80% of all fresh market carrot production in the U.S. comes from California, with Michigan and Texas emerging as the next two largest fresh production states.
Currently,U.S. adults average about 12 pounds of carrot intake each year. Approximately 9 pounds are being consumed in fresh form, with the other 3 pounds are being consumed in frozen or canned products. This amount translates into approximately 1 cup of carrots each week in fresh, frozen, or canned form.
How to Select and Store
Carrot roots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight and bright in color. The deeper the orange-color, the more beta-carotene is present in the carrot. Avoid carrots that are excessively cracked or forked as well as those that are limp or rubbery. In addition, if the carrots do not have their tops attached, look at the stem end and ensure that it is not darkly colored as this is also a sign of age. If the green tops are attached, they should be brightly colored, feathery and not wilted. Since the sugars are concentrated in the carrots' core, generally those with larger diameters will have a larger core and therefore be sweeter.
Carrots are hardy vegetables that will keep longer than many others if stored properly. The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture they lose. To do this, make sure to store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. They should be able to keep fresh for about two weeks. Research has shown that the especially valuable (all-E)-beta-carotene isomer is well-retained in carrots if stored properly. Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter.
If you purchase carrot roots with attached green tops, the tops should be cut off before storing in the refrigerator since they will cause the carrots to wilt prematurely as they pull moisture from the roots. While the tops can be stored in the refrigerator, kept moist by being wrapped in a damp paper, they should really be used soon after purchase since they are fragile and will quickly begin to wilt.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
Tips for Preparing Carrots
Wash carrot roots and gently scrub them with a vegetable brush right before eating. Unless the carrots are old, thick or not grown organically, it is not necessary to peel them. If they are not organically grown, peel them; most all conventionally grown carrots are grown using pesticides and other chemicals. If the stem end is green, it should be cut away as it will be bitter. Depending upon the recipe or your personal preference, carrots can be left whole or julienned, grated, shredded or sliced into sticks or rounds.
Carrots are delicious eaten raw or cooked. While heating can often damage some of the delicate phytonutrients in vegetables, the beta-carotene as found in carrots has been shown to be surprisingly heat-stable. In fact, carrots' beta-carotene may become more bioavailable through well-timed steaming. Still, be careful not to overcook carrots if you want to your carrots to retain their maximum flavor and strong overall nutritional value.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking Carrots
Of all of the cooking methods we tried when cooking carrots, our favorite is Healthy Steaming. We think that it provides the greatest flavor and is also a method that allows for concentrated nutrient retention. In fact, participants in a recent research study agreed with us. When study participants were asked to evaluate the flavor and overall acceptability of different carrot cooking methods, they significantly favored the flavor and overall acceptability of steamed carrots to boiled carrots. This preference was even expressed by participants who had always boiled carrots in their previous kitchen practices!
To Healthy Steamed carrots, fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil. Slice carrots ¼-inch thick and steam for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. For more flavor, toss carrots with our Mediterranean Dressing. (Looking for carrots with extra zing? Try our Carrots with Honey Mustard Sauce recipe.)
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Shredded raw carrots and chopped carrot greens make great additions to salads.
- Combine shredded carrots, beets and apples, and eat as a salad.
- For quick, nutritious soup that can be served hot or cold, purée boiled carrots and potatoes in a blender or food processor, and add herbs and spices to taste.
- Spiced carrot sticks are a flavorful variation on an old favorite at parties or at the dinner table. Soak carrot sticks in hot water spiced with cayenne, coriander seeds and salt. Allow to cool, drain and serve.
WHFoods Recipes That Include Carrots
- Asian Chicken Salad
- Barley Mushroom Soup
- Carrot Coconut Soup
- Minestrone Surprise
- Red Kidney Bean Soup with Lime Yogurt
- Super Energy Kale Soup
- 15-Minute Seared Tuna with Sage
- Poached Halibut with Fennel and Cauliflower
- Holiday Turkey with Rice Stuffing & Gravy with Fresh Herbs
- Asian-Flavored Broccoli with Tofu
- Braised Kidney Beans & Sweet Potato
- Curried Lentils
- Miso Stir-Fry
- Moroccan Eggplant with Garbanzo Beans
- Primavera Verde
- Great Antipasto Salad
- Super Carrot Raisin Salad
- Carrot Cashew Paté
- Carrots with Honey Mustard Sauce
- Garlic Dip with Crudites
- Minted Carrots with Pumpkin Seeds
- Minted Green Peas & Carrots
- Steamed Vegetable Medley
Carrots and Carotoderma
Excessive consumption of carotene-rich foods may lead to a condition called carotoderma in which the palms or other skin develops a yellow or orange cast. This yellowing of the skin is presumably related to carotenemia, excessive levels of carotene in the blood. The health impact of carotenemia is not well researched. Eating or juicing high amounts of foods rich in carotene, like carrots, may over tax the body's ability to convert these foods to vitamin A. The body slowly converts carotene to vitamin A, and extra carotene is stored, usually in the palms, soles or behind the ears. If the cause of the carotenemia is eating excessively high amounts of foods like carrots, the condition will usually disappear after reducing consumption.
Carrots are perhaps best known for their beta-carotene content. (The nutrient beta-carotene was actually named after the carrot!) While they can be an outstanding source of this phytonutrient, carrots actually contain a fascinating combination of phytonutrients, including other carotenoids (especially alpha-carotene and lutein); hydroxycinnamic acids (including caffeic, coumaric, ferulic); anthocyanins (in the case of purple and red carrots); and polyacetylenes (especially falcarinol and falcarindiol). Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). In addition, they are a very good source of biotin, vitamin K, dietary fiber, molybdenum, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They are a good source of manganese, niacin, vitamin B1, panthothenic acid, phosphorus, folate, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin B2.
For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Carrots.
In-Depth Nutritional ProfileIn addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Carrots is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.
Introduction to Food Rating System ChartIn order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.
Carrots, sliced, raw
|vitamin A||1019.07 mcg RAE||113||40.7||excellent|
|biotin||6.10 mcg||20||7.3||very good|
|vitamin K||16.10 mcg||18||6.4||very good|
|fiber||3.42 g||14||4.9||very good|
|molybdenum||6.10 mcg||14||4.9||very good|
|potassium||390.40 mg||11||4.0||very good|
|vitamin B6||0.17 mg||10||3.6||very good|
|vitamin C||7.20 mg||10||3.5||very good|
|vitamin B3||1.20 mg||8||2.7||good|
|vitamin B1||0.08 mg||7||2.4||good|
|pantothenic acid||0.33 mg||7||2.4||good|
|vitamin E||0.81 mg (ATE)||5||1.9||good|
|vitamin B2||0.07 mg||5||1.9||good|
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%
In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Carrots
- Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC). Carrot Profile. 2011;Iowa State University, Ames, IO. Available online at: http://www.agmrc.org. 0.
- de Jesus Ornelas-Paz J , Yahia EM and Gardea-Bejar AA. Bioconversion Efficiency of B-Carotene from Mango Fruit and Carrots. Vitamin A Journal: American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Science Year: 2010 Vol: 5 Issue: 3 Pages/record No.: 301-308. 2010.
- Imsic M, Winkler S, Tomkins B et al. Effect of storage and cooking on beta-carotene isomers in carrots ( Daucus carota L. cv. 'Stefano'). J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 28;58(8):5109-13. 2010.
- Kjellenberg L, Johansson E, Gustavsson KE et al. Effects of harvesting date and storage on the amounts of polyacetylenes in carrots, Daucus carota. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Nov 24;58(22):11703-8. Epub 2010 Oct 21. 2010.
- Lemmens L, Colle IJ, Van Buggenhout S et al. Quantifying the influence of thermal process parameters on in vitro B-carotene bioaccessibility: a case study on carrots. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Apr 13;59(7):3162-7. Epub 2011 Mar 15. 2011.
- Lin BH and Lucier G. Carrot Consumption Varies With Age, Income, and Race. Amber Waves. Washington: Apr 2008. Vol. 6, Iss. 2; p. 4. 2008.
- Matejkova J and Petrikova K. Variation in Content of Carotenoids and Vitamin C in Carrots . Notulae Scientia Biologicae Year: 2010 Vol: 2 Issue: 4 Pages/record No.: 88-91. 2010.
- Metzger BT and Barnes DM. Polyacetylene diversity and bioactivity in orange market and locally grown colored carrots (Daucus carota L.). J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Dec 9;57(23):11134-9. 2009.
- Morizet D, Depezay L, Masse P et al. Perceptual and lexical knowledge of vegetables in preadolescent children. Appetite. 2011 Aug;57(1):142-7. Epub 2011 Apr 16. 2011.
- Neri L, Hernando Hernando I, Perez-Munuera I et al. Effect of blanching in water and sugar solutions on texture and microstructure of sliced carrots. J Food Sci. 2011 Jan-Feb;76(1):E23-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01906.x. Epub 2010 Nov 29. 2011.
- Nicolle C, Simon G, Rock E et al. Genetic Variability Influences Carotenoid, Vitamin, Phenolic, and Mineral Content in White, Yellow, Purple, Orange, and Dark-orange Carrot Cultivars. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci., Jul 2004; 129: 523-529. 2004.
- Oude Griep LM, Monique Verschuren WM, Kromhout D et al. Colours of fruit and vegetables and 10-year incidence of CHD. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jun 8:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]. 2011.
- Purup S, Larsen E and Christensen LP. Differential Effects of Falcarinol and Related Aliphatic C17-Polyacetylenes on Intestinal Cell Proliferation. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 September 23; 57(18): 8290—8296. 2009.
- Rennie C and Wise A. Preferences for steaming of vegetables. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2010 Feb;23(1):108-10. Epub 2009 Nov 23. 2010.
- Soltoft M, Bysted A, Madsen KH et al. Effects of organic and conventional growth systems on the content of carotenoids in carrot roots, and on intake and plasma status of carotenoids in humans. J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Mar 15;91(4):767-75. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4248. Epub 2011 Jan 6. 2011.
- Tang G. Bioconversion of dietary provitamin A carotenoids to vitamin A in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1468S-1473S. Epub 2010 Mar 3. 2010.
- Theodosiou M, Laudet V and Schubert M. . From carrot to clinic: an overview of the retinoic acid signaling pathway. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. Basel: May 2010. Vol. 67, Iss. 9; p. 1423-1445. 2010.
- Wang ZX, Dong PC, Sun TT et al. [Comparison of lutein, zeaxanthin and B-carotene level in raw and cooked foods consumed in Beijing]. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2011 Jan;45(1):64-7. Chinese. 2011.
- Zidorn C, Johrer K, Ganzera M et al. Polyacetylenes from the Apiaceae vegetables carrot, celery, fennel, parsley, and parsnip and their cytotoxic activities. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Apr 6;53(7):2518-23. 2005.
- Much grattidtude to George Mateljan,and the George Mateljan Foundation for www.whfoods.com