Falcarinol in carrots could protect us from cancer.
First of all the name "carrot" comes from the Greek word "karoton," whose first three letters (kar) are used to designate anything with a horn-like shape. That horn-like shape, refers to the taproot of the carrot, the part we eat. It is a biennial plant which means it grows a rosette of leaves in the spring and summer, while building up the stout taproot, which stores large amounts of sugars for the plant to flower in the second year. The wild ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Iran and Afghanistan, which remains the center of diversity of the wild carrot. Selective breeding over the centuries of naturally occurring subspecies of the wild carrot, to reduce bitterness, increase sweetness and minimise the woody core, has produced our familiar American garden vegetable. Carrots were first grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Some relatives of the carrot are still grown for leaves and seeds, like parsley, fennel, dill, and cumin. The first mention of the root is in classical sources is in the 1st century. The modern carrot appears to have been introduced to Europe between the 8–10th centuries. Carrot cultivars can be grouped into two broad classes, eastern carrots and western carrots.
The western carrot emerged in the Netherlands in the 17th century, not violet in color, but orange, making it popular in those countries as an emblem of the House of Orange and the struggle for Dutch independence. The orange color results from abundant carotene in these cultivars. While orange carrots are the norm in the West, other colors do exist, including white, yellow, red, and purple. These other colors of carrot are raised primarily as novelty crops.Western carrot cultivars are commonly classified by their root shape:
- Chantenay carrots are shorter than other cultivars, but have greater girth, sometimes growing up to 3 inches in diameter. They have broad shoulders and taper towards a blunt, rounded tip. They are most commonly diced for use in canned or prepared foods.
- Danvers carrots have a conical shape, having well defined shoulders and tapering to a point at the tip. They are somewhat shorter than Imperator cultivars, but more tolerant of heavy soil. Danvers cultivars are often puréed as baby food. They were developed in 1871 in Danvers, Ma.
- Imperator carrots are the carrots most commonly sold whole in United States supermarkets, their roots are longer than other carrots, and taper to a point at the tip.
- Nantes carrots are nearly cylindrical in shape, and are blunt and rounded at both the top and tip. Nantes cultivars are often sweeter than other carrots.
The US the city of Holtville, California, promotes itself as "Carrot Capital of the World", and holds an annual festival devoted entirely to the carrot. Different varieties of carrots contain differing amounts of antioxidant phytonutrients. Red and purple carrots, for example, are best known for the rich anthocyanin content. Oranges are particularly outstanding in terms of beta-carotene, which accounts for 65% of their total carotenoid content. In yellow carrots, 50% of the total carotenoids come from lutein. You're going to receive outstanding antioxidant benefits from each of these carrot varieties. Our cardiovascular system needs constant protection from oxidative damage. This is particularly true of our arteries, which are responsible for carrying highly oxygenated blood. There are numerous research studies I've found documenting the cardiovascular benefits of carrots. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. In addition, they are a very good source of vitamin C, bone-building vitamin K, and heart healthy fiber and potassium. Lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision, including night vision, and vision can be restored by adding it back into the diet. Researchers at the Jules Stein Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles determined that women who consume carrots at least twice per week, in comparison to women who consume carrots less than once per week have significantly lower rates of glaucoma. Lab studies have shown the ability of carrot extracts to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. The polyacetylenes found in carrot, especially falcarinol have been specifically linked to this inhibitory effect.Carrots are delicious eaten raw or cooked. On a tropical beach with Buggs or in your town. While heating can often damage some of the delicate phytonutrients in vegetables, the beta-carotene as found in carrots has been shown to be surprisingly heat-stable. In fact, carrots beta-carotene may become more bioavailable through well-timed steaming. Still, be careful not to overcook carrots if you want to your carrots to retain their maximum flavor and strong overall nutritional value. If you buy carrots with attached green tops, the tops should be cut off before storing in the refrigerator since they will cause the carrots to wilt prematurely as they pull moisture from their root. Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will make them bitter. They should be able to keep fresh for about two weeks. Since the sugars are concentrated in the carrot's core, generally those with larger diameters will have a larger core and should be sweeter. Sweet, healthy, and portable that's how I like my foods, and I'll bet you do too. Try to add more carrots to your diet each week and enjoy the benefits. Good Luck...
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