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Carrot nutritional breakdown
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one medium carrot or ½ cup of chopped carrots is considered a serving size. One serving size of carrots provides 25 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of sugars and 1 gram of protein.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, providing 210% of the average adult's needs for the day. They also provide 6% of vitamin C needs, 2% of calcium needs and 2% of iron needs per serving.
It is the antioxidant beta-carotene that gives carrots their bright orange color. Beta-carotene is absorbed in the intestine and converted into vitamin A during digestion.
Farmer's markets and some specialty stores carry carrots in a range of colors - like purple, yellow, and red - that contain a variety of antioxidants lending them their color (such as anthocyanin in purple carrots and lycopene in red carrots).
Incorporating carrots into your diet
Carrots can be found in supermarket year-round, but are available locally during their biannual seasons in the spring and fall. They are a versatile vegetable and commonly eaten raw, steamed, boiled, roasted and as an ingredient in many soups and stews. They can be bought fresh, frozen, canned or even pickled.
Carrots are best stored in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag. If the greens are still attached to the top of the carrot, remove them before storing to prevent the greens from drawing out moisture and nutrients from the roots. Carrots should be peeled and washed before consuming.
Shredded carrots can be used in coleslaw, on salads, in wraps or as an ingredient in baked goods such as cakes and muffins due to their sweet flavor.
Carrot sticks or baby carrots make for a great snack and are often a popular vessel for herbed dips and hummus and on variety vegetable trays.
Carrots are a popular vegetable to juice because of their sweet mild flavor.
Eating carrots raw or steamed provides the most nutritional value.
Overconsumption of vitamin A can be toxic to humans, but is unlikely to be achieved through diet alone (most vitamin overconsumption occurs by supplementation).
Overconsumption of carotene may cause a slight orange tinge in skin color but is not harmful to health.7