Celebrate the Classic Carrot

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Last week's Carrot Trivia was so popular that we're back for more today!

If you 'carrot' all about your health and want to enjoy delicious, affordable food, you’ll seek out the classic carrot! Carrots are versatile, valuable vegetables that provide beta-carotene and other antioxidants.

Carrots have their ‘roots’ in Central Asia but are grown worldwide. Seven states take credit for growing carrots in the US: California, Texas, Washington, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, and Wisconsin. While bright orange carrots are well known in the US, purple, black, and white carrots were the originals and are still grown today.

In this new series, we’ll be covering simple super foods to get more nutritional bang for your buck.

Nutritional Value:
Carrots’ bright orange color indicates their beta carotene content, but there’s more to love than a single nutrient. Carrots are also sources of the following phytochemicals: phenolics, carotenoids, polyacetylenes, and ascorbic acid (AKA vitamin C). A benefits-review article suggests that carrots possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, lipid-lowering, and anti-tumor properties (1).

Beta-carotene may be the best-known antioxidant in carrots, but yellow carrots are a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that aid in the prevention of macular degeneration. Purple and black carrots (most commonly found in India and China, though they're also making a comeback at local farmer's markets) contain anthocyanins, the same antioxidants that are so hyped in blueberries! These antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of dementia.

Health Benefits:
Men may derive extra benefits from regular carrot intake because carrots have been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. A systematic review of studies indicated that a dose-response reduction in the risk of prostate cancer was linked to carrot intake. The study found that those who ate carrots at least three times a week were 18 percent less likely to have prostate cancer (2).

Carrot consumption may also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. In a Danish study of over 57,050 individuals, self-reported consumption of 2 to 4 or more raw carrots per week was linked to a 17% decreased risk of colon cancer with an average follow-up of over 18 years. Researchers believe the inhibition of pro-inflammatory compounds in carrots may reduce cancer risk (3).

Don’t Just Dangle the Carrot -- Eat More of Them!
Here are a few ideas...

1. Pair raw carrots with your favorite hummus or yogurt dip.
2. Dice carrots and add them to soup, stew, or grain dishes.
3. Season carrots with cumin, cinnamon, and a dash of salt and then roast them.
4. Sauté carrots with peppers, onions, or broccoli in stir fries.
5. Shred carrots and make a carrot raisin salad.
6. Make carrot soup with ginger, curry, and other Indian spices.
7. Roast carrots with Brussels sprouts in olive oil and garlic.
8. Sneak carrots into your favorite smoothie with bananas and berries.
9. Chop carrots and add them to your favorite salad or slaw.
10. Use carrot tops to make pesto!

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

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  1. Ahmad T, Cawood M, Iqbal Q, Ariño A, Batool A, Tariq RMS, Azam M, Akhtar S. Phytochemicals in Daucus carota and Their Health Benefits-Review Article. Foods. 2019 Sep 19;8(9):424.
  2. Xu X, Cheng Y, Li S, Zhu Y, Xu X, Zheng X, Mao Q, Xie L. Dietary carrot consumption and the risk of prostate cancer. Eur J Nutr. 2014 Dec;53(8):1615-23.
  3. Deding U, Baatrup G, Christensen LP, Kobaek-Larsen M. Carrot Intake and Risk of Colorectal Cancer: A Prospective Cohort Study of 57,053 Danes. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 27;12(2):332
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