Having been domesticated in Central Asian Persian Belt of Asia around a 1000 years back, carrots came to India around the turn of 1700’s and soon became a staple in the Indian Kitchen due to a distinct flavour, taste and the said health benefits.
Carrot, also known as ‘gajar’ in Hindi is considered to be the perfect health food. It is available in various sizes and colours such as black, orange, red, yellow, white, and purple. Carrot gets its orange colour from beta carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A. It is highly nutritious, tasty, and crunchy.
Nutritional facts of Carrots
Carrots contain fewer proteins and fats. It is rich in lutein and betacarotene.
As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 100 gm of carrot contains 41 kcal, 88% of water, 0.9 gm of proteins, 2.8 gm of fiber, 9.6 gm of carbohydrates, 0.2 gm of fats, and 4.7 gm of sugar.
Potential Health Benefits of Carrots
1/5. Boosts eye health
1. The carotenoids or vitamin A content present in carrots helps in enhancing eye health. It also prevents conditions like age-related muscular degeneration, night blindness, etc.
2. The lutein and lycopene-rich content of carrot help in maintaining excellent eyesight and night vision.
3. The high amount of vitamin A also helps promote healthy eyesight.
2/5. Boosts immunity
1. Carrots are loaded with antioxidants which help in boosting the immune system. Regular consumption of carrots helps in building stronger immunity.
2. The vitamin C content of carrots helps in boosting the immune system.
3/5. Prevents cancer
1. Carrots include a poly-acetylene antioxidant, falcarinol which helps in destroying cancerous cells in the tumours.
2. Carrots are loaded with anti-carcinogenic properties which inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.
3. The carotenoids content of carrots helps protect against many types of cancer.
4. Carrots are known to decrease the risk of several kinds of cancer like prostate, stomach, breast, lung, colon, etc.
5. Thecarrot juice extract may kill leukemia cells and slow or arrest their progression.
4/5. Regulates blood sugar levels
1. Carrots, been rich in soluble fiber help in regulating blood sugar and insulin levels.
2. Raw carrots, been low on the glycemic index fail to spike blood sugar levels.
3. Regular consumption of carrots reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes.
5/5. Other possible benefits
Carrot produces several health benefits, apart from the health benefits mentioned above, it also produces a few more such as improves dental health, regulates blood pressure, helps in weight loss, gets rid of toxins, maintains good digestive health, deals with menstrual issues, stimulates hair growth, prevents hair loss, prevents skin dryness, treats skin ailments, provides sun protection, prevents ageing, treats scars and blemishes, maintains a healthy glow,helps in digestion,boosts heart health, fights cholesterol,boosts skin health, promotesbone health, prevents osteoporosis, and reduces the risk of developing heart disease.
Excessive intake of Carrots ‘gajar’ can increase the beta-carotene levels in the body, leading to carotenemia – discolouration of the skin/yellowish colour of the skin.
How to include Carrot in your Diet?
Carrots are to be consumed in their fresh form. Boiling carrots may decrease or eliminate some amount of vitamin content whereas raw or steamed carrots offer most of the nutritional value.
Gajar can be eaten raw or can be boiled, steamed, baked, or sauté. Carrot is a vegetable that can be used in several culinary preparations. Carrots are available as frozen, fresh, pickled, canned, or as juice.
Carrots need to be initially washed and then peeled. There are several ways by which carrots can be included in the diet. Some of them are as follows:
1. Can be consumed raw as a snack.
2. Used to prepare smoothies and juices.
3. Shredded carrots are used in salads, wraps, or coleslaws. They can also be added to baked goods, such as muffins and cakes.
How to prepare low fat Carrot Halwa?
Though gajar halwa is great for your health, it is packed with loads of calories which may make you put on weight. However, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your favourite dessert. Here is a low-fat gajar halwa recipe.
In a pressure cooker, add 1 tsp of ghee and 2 cups of grated carrots. Saute it for 5 minutes.
Then, add 1 cup low-fat milk and ½ cup chopped dates to the cooker. Mix it well and pressure cook it for 2 whistles.
Add ¼ tsp cardamom powder and mix it well. Keep stirring it continuously.
Gajar halwa is ready to serve.
Substituting sugar with dates helps in reducing calorie consumption.