Carrot is a well-known vegetable. But the term ‘baby carrot’ may be new to many of us. Two types of carrots are usually called baby carrots. One type is harvested when they are small before full maturation. The other type, commonly known as baby-cut carrot, is the machine-cut version of larger carrots. They are then peeled, washed, and packed for marketing.
Regular and baby carrots differ slightly in nutrients. Let’s have a look at the nutrition content of baby carrots. One medium serving (0.4z) of raw baby carrots contains 89.8% carbohydrate, 7% protein, and 3.2% total fat. Altogether it provides 3 calories of energy.
Starch and sugars like glucose and sucrose are the major carbohydrates in baby carrots. Baby carrots have a low glycemic index (GI) which means that they do not raise the blood sugar level quickly. This is particularly beneficial for diabetic patients.
Baby carrots are a great source of fiber. Pectin is the major soluble fiber in them. The main insoluble fibers include cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Soluble fibers have numerous benefits. They can reduce the absorption of cholesterol and help to lower the blood cholesterol level. They make the digestion of sugar and starch slower to lower the blood sugar levels. Moreover, fiber is a great source of nutrition for the useful bacteria in your gut. This minimizes the risk of various fatal diseases. Insoluble fibers keep the bowel movement normal and prevent constipation.
Baby carrots also contain several vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin K1, vitamin B6, biotin, and potassium. Each of them has its own functions.
Vitamin A is produced in the body from beta carotene, the main carotene in carrots. You can increase the absorption of beta carotene by eating fats with carrots. Vitamin A improves vision, growth, and immunity. Vitamin K1 improves bone health and is an essential factor for blood coagulation. Vitamin B6 is necessary to produce energy from food. Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 is necessary for protein and fat metabolism. Potassium plays an important role in controlling blood pressure.
Baby carrots also contain many other plant compounds. The major of them are beta carotene, alpha-carotene, anthocyanin, lutein, lycopene, and polyacetylene. These compounds are powerful antioxidants that help to improve immunity and minimize the risk of various fatal diseases such as cancer and heart diseases. The amount of these compounds depends on the color of the carrot. Orange carrots contain a high amount of beta carotene. Lutein is mostly found in orange and yellow carrots. Red and purple carrots are high in lycopene. Dark-colored carrots give anthocyanin.
Most of us are well informed about the various health benefits of carrots. Carotenoids found in the carrots are very useful. Studies have proved that they can prevent various cancers such as prostate, colon, stomach, and breast cancers. Now scientists are trying to found out if they can protect against lung cancer. They are also strong antioxidants that prevent aging and improve the immune system of your body.
Baby carrots satisfy the appetite but provide very low calorie. So they are highly effective for losing weight and are often recommended by dieticians.
Lack of vitamin A leads to night blindness. Foods rich in vitamin A or carotenoids such as baby carrots play an important role to improve eye health and vision. Carotenoids also minimize the risk of macular degeneration due to aging.
Heart diseases often result from high blood cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that eating carrots can lower your cholesterol levels.
Though carrots have numerous useful effects, some people may be adversely affected by eating carrots. Studies have found that carrots are responsible for pollen-related allergic reactions in up to 25% of food-allergic individuals. These allergic reactions are triggered by some proteins in carrots whose nature is similar to the proteins found in certain types of pollen such as mugwort pollen or birch pollen. The common symptoms are an itchy mouth, swelling of the throat, and sometimes severe allergic shock.
Carrots can become contaminated if they are grown in contaminated soil or get exposed to contaminated water. These carrots contain large amounts of heavy metals which when ingested may produce toxic reactions in the body. So many people prefer organic carrots that are grown naturally without pesticides. But according to various studies their quality and nutrient contents are the same as conventionally grown carrots using pesticides. However, pesticide residues may be present in conventionally grown carrots.
There are various myths and misconceptions regarding baby carrots. Seeing the uniform size and shape of baby carrots many people think that they are grown in this way. Actually, they are obtained by either harvesting the normal carrots prematurely or cutting the mature carrots using a machine. This practice was first invented by a Californian farmer in 1986 to reduce waste. At that time, supermarkets would only buy fresh and good looking carrots. The lack of demand for carrots made the farmers throw away the ugly carrots or use them as animal feed. Mike Yurosek introduced this cutting practice so that the imperfect, craggy-looking carrots could be sold. Presently, sweeter and more slender hybrid carrots are cut to prepare baby carrots.
People who are trying to lose weight or control diabetes often avoid taking baby carrots thinking that they contain larger amounts of sugar. But the fact is that they do not contain more sugar than larger carrots and sometimes even less. Half a cup of baby carrots contains about 4g of natural sugar. Like other fruits and vegetables, baby carrots contain natural sugar. They do not contain added sugar which is to be avoided by diabetic patients and those who trying to lose weight.
Baby carrots are given a chlorine bath before packaging. People who know this often consider the baby carrots as toxic. In reality, the chlorine bath is given as a part of the cleansing process. It is used to prevent microbial growth on finished fruits and vegetables. The chlorine bath contains a small amount of chlorine following the Food and Drugs Act and Regulation. So you have no reason to stay away from taking baby carrots thinking that they are harmful to you.
Baby carrots have a shorter shelf life than regular carrots. It is due to the fact that baby carrots are already peeled when you are buying them. So the peel is not there as the regular carrots to provide protection. Baby carrots should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling.
Many of you may have difficulties in eating vegetables. If you do not like to eat raw baby carrots, there are numerous cooked baby carrot dishes for you to make them more appealing and appetizing. Easy ranch baby carrots, sweet carrots with tarragon, shaved carrot salad with pistachio and pomegranate vinaigrette, roasted carrots with farro, chickpeas and herbed creme fraiche, ginger carrot soup, honey roasted maple carrots, carrot ginger pork buns, pomegranate roasted carrots with feta and brown butter, Moroccan carrot salad with millet, garlic roasted carrots, ginger carrot salad with quinoa, one bowl carrot apple muffins, roasted carrots and couscous with gremolata, curry roasted carrots with peanut sauce, cashew carrot bread, spiralized broccoli-stem carrot slaw with dried cranberries are some of the most popular baby carrots recipes. You can get the full recipe for your favorite dish online.
There is often a debate among the diet conscious people regarding which carrot is better. But there is no proved fact about which carrot is more beneficial for health. Whether you eat a baby carrot or a regular carrot, both of them are full of nutrients and will improve your health. Baby carrots are a popular snack in North America, particularly in the USA and Canada. The pretty look has made this vegetable popular among kids and youngsters. In the USA, baby carrots comprise 70% of all carrot sales. The companies are still giving marketing efforts to increase the sale of baby carrots. They are also served as appetizers in many restaurants. Baby carrots have lessened the worry of the parents as their kids eat this vegetable without any nagging. If you have become interested in baby carrots by now, you can order them online and try it out all by yourself.