By Ellen Dixon, MS, RD, LDN
Carrots are a root vegetable known for being crunchy, tasty, and highly nutritious. They can be found at most grocery stores year-round, but they grow best in fall and early spring when soil temperatures reach about 50°F.
The most commonly consumed part of the carrot is the taproot, although the stems and roots can also be eaten. Carrots can be found in many colors including orange, yellow, white, red, and purple.
Carrots are a good source of beta carotene, potassium, and antioxidants. One serving of carrots contains approximately 250 mg of potassium, 100% of the daily value of vitamin A, and only 30 calories. Orange carrots get their bright color from beta carotene, which is an antioxidant that your body converts into vitamin A.
Along with being high in antioxidants, carrots are a great source of fiber, which helps aid in healthy digestion. One serving of carrots contains about 2 grams of fiber or 7% of the daily value. As a low-calorie, high-fiber food, carrots can make you feel full with fewer calories, which can help reduce your calorie intake if eaten regularly.
How to Enjoy
You can cook carrots in a variety of ways as well as enjoy them raw. Here are some great ways to incorporate more carrots into your diet.
• Top your salad with raw sliced or shredded carrots to add an extra crunch.
• Eat baby carrots plain or with virtually any dip for an easy snack.
• Roast large, cut carrots with your favorite fall vegetables—such as potatoes, parsnips, squash, or onions—for a healthy side dish for any dinner.
• Boil carrots and pan sear them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and honey for a slightly sweet side dish.