I have a book called, 100 Foods to Stay Young, that I love. It includes foods that I would expect, such as avocados and broccoli, and others that come as a nice surprise, such as molasses and pepper. It of course also supports some of my intentional indulgences, including dark chocolate and red wine. What I like about the book, aside from knowing what foods will help me stay young, is that it explains why and how to extract the most benefit out of each food. It also highlights what foods have been shown to benefit specific health situations, such as fighting diseases including cancer and Alzheimer’s, and supporting goals such as increasing fertility and sleep. Every now and then, I’ll pick a food from this book, read what it has to say, and do my best to remember the points that mean the most to me. Today’s food is carrots.
You probably already know that carrots are good for you, but do you know why? Here are a few things I learned:
- Carrots provide a chemical called falcarinol that has been shown to have strong skin-protecting antioxidant activity.
- The fiber in carrots, pectin, detoxifies heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium and other aging toxins.
- Carrots are a source of the flavonoid rutin, which helps prevent varicose veins, high blood pressure and heart disease.
- A raw carrot provides 3 percent beta-carotene, compared to 39 percent if the carrot has been steamed, juiced, or cooked in oil (your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, benefiting eyesight and aiding in detoxification).
- Carrots are also high in vitamin A that doesn’t need converting, making it a good source of the vitamin regardless of how it is prepared.
What you do with this information is up to you. Now that I know though…I’m going to think twice before passing on a helping or snack of carrots and will incorporate more carrots that have been steamed, juiced, or cooked in oil into my family’s meals.
One of my favorite recipes that includes lightly cooked carrots is this one for carrot & zucchini muffins from the blog Gimme Some Oven. To make these muffins even more nutritious, I usually replace half of the oil with an equal part of applesauce. (You don’t want to replace all of the oil, since it is necessary for increasing the beta-carotene.) They are quick, inexpensive and easy to make, and are clearly filled with nutrition – including nutrition that will help us stay young. And best of all…my son and I both love them. I hope you and yours do too.