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r Carrots

o Nutritional Profile
Energy value (calories per serving): Low
3 Protein: Moderate
Fat: Low
Saturated fat: Low
] Cholesterol: None
Carbohydrates: High
Fiber: High

1 Sodium: Moderate
Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin A
Major mineral contribution: Potassium

[ About the Nutrients in This Food


Carrots are high-fiber food, roots whose crispness comes from cell walls
stiffened with the insoluble dietary fibers cellulose and lignin. Carrots also

8 contain soluble pectins, plus appreciable amounts of sugar (mostly sucrose)


and a little starch. They are an extraordinary source of vitamin A derived
from deep yellow carotenoids (including beta-carotene).
One raw carrot, about seven inches long, has two grams of dietary
fiber and 20,250 IU vitamin A (nine times the RDA for a woman, seven
/ times the RDA for a man).

The Most Nutritious Way to Serve This Food


w Cooked, so that the cellulose- and hemicellulose-stiffened cell walls
of the carrot have partially dissolved and the nutrients inside are more
readily available.
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Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
Disaccharide-intolerance diet (for people who are sucrase- and/or

? invertase-deficient)
Low-fiber diet
Low-sodium diet (fresh and canned carrots)
Buying This Food
Look for: Firm, bright orange yellow carrots with fresh, crisp green tops.
Avoid: Wilted or shriveled carrots, pale carrots, or carrots with brown spots on the skin.

Storing This Food


Trim off the green tops before you store carrots. The leafy tops will wilt and rot long before
the sturdy root.
Keep carrots cool. They will actually gain vitamin A during their first five months in
storage. Protected from heat and light, they can hold to their vitamins at least another two
and a half months.
Store carrots in perforated plastic bags or containers. Circulating air prevents the for-
mation of the terpenoids that make the carrots taste bitter. Do not store carrots near apples
or other fruits that manufacture ethylene gas as they continue to ripen; this gas encourages
the development of terpenoids.
Store peeled carrots in ice water in the refrigerator to keep them crisp for as long as
48 hours.

Preparing This Food


Scrape the carrots. Very young, tender carrots can be cleaned by scrubbing with a veg-
etable brush.
Soak carrots that are slightly limp in ice water to firm them up. Dont discard slightly
wilted intact carrots; use them in soups or stews where texture doesnt matter.

What Happens When You Cook This Food


Since carotenes do not dissolve in water and are not affected by the normal heat of cooking,
carrots stay yellow and retain their vitamin A when you heat them. But cooking will dissolve
some of the hemicellulose in the carrots stiff cell walls, changing the vegetables texture and
making it easier for digestive juices to penetrate the cells and reach the nutrients inside.

How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food


Freezing. The characteristic crunchy texture of fresh carrots depends on the integrity of its
cellulose- and hemicellulose-stiffened cell walls. Freezing cooked carrots creates ice crystals
that rupture these membranes so that the carrots usually seem mushy when defrosted. If
possible, remove the carrots before freezing a soup or stew and add fresh or canned carrots
when you defrost the dish.
Medical Uses and/or Benefits
A reduced risk of some kinds of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, carrots
and other foods rich in beta-carotene, a deep yellow pigment that your body converts to a
form of vitamin A, may lower the risk of cancers of the larynx, esophagus and lungs. There
is no such benefit from beta-carotene supplements; indeed, one controversial study actually
showed a higher rate of lung cancer among smokers taking the supplement.
Protection against vitamin A-deficiency blindness. In the body, the vitamin A from carrots
becomes 11-cis retinol, the essential element in rhodopsin, a protein found in the rods (the
cells inside your eyes that let you see in dim light). Rhodopsin absorbs light, triggering the
chain of chemical reactions known as vision. One raw carrot a day provides more than
enough vitamin A to maintain vision in a normal healthy adult.