Blackroot

back to our roots

CRUNCH INTO A CARROT AND YOU'RE LIKELY TO GET A HEALTH BOOST FOR YOUR ENTIRE BODY

In the glamorous world

of leafy greens, it's easy to forget our roots. Especially carrots: humble, dense and unsophisticated, they're just not as alluring as succulent summer squash or exotic artichokes. But coming from deep within the earth, they're nurturing and solid, offering grounding and comfort in a way frivolous fennel or waiflike green beans could only hope to achieve. And they're packed with compounds that can help prevent disease.

Why Carrots Make Health Sense

Carrots contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C and K, potassium and B vitamins. They're also loaded with fiber and alpha- and beta-carotene, potent antioxidants that have been linked to a reduction in heart disease and cancer. Here are some other healthy highlights to consider:

In a recent study from the Journal of Epidemiology, high levels of alpha- and beta-carotenes in the body were associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

A high intake of carotenoids may also lower the risk of breast cancer and cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate and lungs. In addition, carrots have now been discovered to contain a compound called falcarinol that also seems to have a cancer-fighting effect.

A diet that is high in carotenoids may also help regulate blood sugar levels and play a part in preventing insulin resistance.

Other research has shown that beta-carotene has a protective effect on vision and could help protect against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

Pick the Best and the Brightest

Ready to add more carrots to your life? Start by selecting firm, smooth carrots with a deep orange color, avoiding any that are cracked or rubbery. If you purchase a bunch with green tops, remove the tops before storing. Keep in a plastic bag or loosely wrapped in paper towels, and use within two weeks.

STICK IT TO BORING MEALS

3 FAST AND EASY CARROT RECIPES

1. Shred carrots and toss with yogurt, raisins and a bit of honey.
2. Add diced carrots and crushed walnuts to rice in the last five minutes of cooking.
3. Cut into strips and serve with hummus for dipping.
great for lunch
CARROT-GINGER SOUP WITH FRESH CILANTRO
Serves 4
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk (regular or low-fat)
2-inch segment fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
½ to 1 tsp. ground cumin
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil and sauté onion for 1 minute in large soup pot. Add carrots and garlic, and stir to coat with oil. Cook 3 minutes on medium-low heat, until carrots are just tender. Add chicken stock; bring to a boil. Stir in coconut milk, ginger root and cumin. Reduce heat, and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, or until carrots are very soft. Remove from heat. Purée until smooth, and return to pot; stir in cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.
PER SERVING: 198 CAL; 6G PROT; 13G TOTAL FAT (8G SAT. FAT); 17 CARB, 5MG CHOL; 389MG SOD; 3G FIBER; 7G SUGAR
PHOTO (COLOR)
PHOTO (COLOR)
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By Lisa Turner

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