Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Are Carrots Good For?

Carrot Chronicles

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Botanical name: Daucus carota

Extremely versatile to eat and available nearly anywhere in the world, carrots have been around for centuries. Historians believe that carrots were cultivated by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, as they were mentioned by Pliny the Elder and prized by Emperor Tiberius. Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family, a term derived from the umbrella-like flower cluster on top of the plants in this family. You’ll find similar fern-like leaves on plants the carrot is related to, such as fennel, parsley, dill, and anise.

Colors of carrots first ranged from black, pink, red, yellow and white before the more common orange hue emerged, reportedly just after the fifth century. In the Middle Ages, references to carrots and parsnips seemed to be interchangeable, in spite of the marked size and color difference.

In today’s kitchens you’ll find carrots in everything, from healthy vegetable soups to salads. They can also be juiced and sliced into sticks for raw snacking. Carrots can be sliced, grated, julienned, sautéed, puréed, and baked as chips – and you’ve only just started! As if the creation of all those dishes wasn’t enough, carrots also have an amazingly long list of health advantages.

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Health Benefits of Carrots

When kids ask if it’s true that carrots are good for their eyes, you can answer in the affirmative, because carrots are very high in vitamin A, an essential nutrient for good vision. In fact, carrots are loaded with beta carotene and are subsequently converted into vitamin A in your liver. Because beta-carotenes can’t be manufactured in the body, they must be obtained from your diet.

It’s no coincidence that “carotene” sounds like “carrot.” The word was devised in the early 19th century by a German scientist after he crystallized the carotene compound from carrot roots. Beta-carotene is one of more than 600 carotenoids, which are the pigments that give color to egg yolks, tomatoes, fruits, dark leafy vegetables and some types of seafood.

Known for ultraviolet radiation protection, carrots are also noted for the role they play in heart disease and stroke prevention, as a poultice to prevent infection in cuts and scrapes, for maintaining youthful skin, and for colon cleansing and toxin flushing.

The calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in carrots help build strong bones and a healthy nervous system. Calcium consumption, especially, is essential for healthy heart muscles. Phosphorus is essential for softening skin and strengthening teeth, hair, and bones, while magnesium can be thanked for its role in mental development, digestion of fats, and nutrient absorption. Carrot crunchers also get the benefits of potassium, vitamins C and B6, copper, folic acid, thiamine, and magnesium.

Carrots Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: One medium, raw carrot (128 grams)
  • Calories: 52
  • Carbohydrates: 12 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 88 mg
Studies Done on Carrots

A 2011 study1 found overwhelming evidence that the bioactive chemicals in carrot juice extracts may play a role in treating certain cancers, including leukemia, due to the beta carotene and polyacetylene antioxidants found in the vegetable. The study found that when myeloid and lymphoid leukemia cell lines were treated, cancer-causing cell growth was inhibited. Carrots also are mentioned specifically in a list of foods responsible for lowering the risk of bladder cancer in a study at San Diego Medical Center2.

While most of us have been taught that raw vegetables have the highest nutritional value, surprisingly, recent studies have found that cooking helps increase the health benefits of carrots.

Research conducted at the University of Arkansas centered on the antioxidant activity of raw carrots in comparison with cooked carrots3. The result was that pureed, cooked carrots not only retained their nutritional value, but actually contained more healthy properties than when eaten raw. Over a period of four weeks, it was discovered that the phenolic acids and beta-carotene levels increased dramatically when the carrots were introduced to heat.

The study also indicated that the antioxidant activity continued to increase in the pureed carrots even after a week of refrigeration. Although the levels dropped after that time period, they did not drop to the antioxidant levels of carrots in the raw.

That’s a huge health benefit, since antioxidants are known scavengers of free radicals in your body, which in turn could help prevent chronic diseases as cancer, Alzheimer's, irritable bowel syndrome, and a host of other health problems.

Carrot Healthy Recipes: Summer-Chilled, Creamy Carrot Soup

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  • 3 large organic tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbs. green onions, chopped
  • Small handful fresh basil, chopped
  • Flesh of 1 avocado
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 1/2 c. freshly juiced carrots
  • 1/3 tsp. cumin
  • Place first 4 ingredients into food processor in batches, if necessary and add the carrot juice, cumin and lemon juice.
  • Whiz up until smooth. That’s it! Serve and enjoy!
(Adapted from “What's Up, Doc? A Soup That Even Bugs Bunny Would Love”,, 2007)

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Carrot Fun Facts

Wild carrots are often seen in fields and along roadsides, only they’re usually known by a more common name: Queen Anne’s Lace. Pull up the root of a wild carrot, and you’ll find a long, fibrous tuber. Break it and you’ll discover it has the unmistakable aroma of a carrot.


Carrots contain higher levels of beta carotene than any other vegetable or fruit. Why is that important? Not only does beta carotene give carrots their distinctive orange color, more importantly, it converts in your body to vitamin A. Noted for health benefits throughout your body, including cancer cell growth inhibition, carrots have that distinction known in many other foods grown in the garden – they’re nutritious and delicious.

Related articles: Chlorine in Your Baby Carrots

Other sources:


1, Bioactive chemicals from carrot (Daucus carota) juice extracts for the treatment of leukemia, June 2012
2, Evidence-based principles of bladder cancer and diet, June 2012
3, Cook Your Carrots For More Antioxidants, University Of Arkansas Researchers Say, June 2012

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Herbal Antibiotics

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Have you become dependent on antibiotics? If you have, you'd also probably notice how the more frequently you use antibiotics, the more you will need to consume larger doses each time to experience the same effects as before. Indeed, developing an increased resistance to synthetic antibiotics today is not uncommon. Moreover, pharmaceutical antibiotics kill both healthy and unhealthy bacteria which compromises your immune system. [1] And as stronger antibiotics are created to counter attack this resistance, stronger forms of viruses and bacteria have also evolved. [2]

Worse, did you know that even without an overdependence on antibiotics, resistance can still occur because some animal feeds are nevertheless mixed with minimal dosages of antibiotics? [3]

Fortunately, you have herbs that possess antibiotic and blood cleansing properties at your disposal. Herbs that can easily be found in your local grocery store, garden or even kitchen. These herbs works differently than your common antibiotics without increasing your resistance against them. In fact, most simple ailments like sinus issues, sore throats, shallow wounds and mild urinary tract infections often only need the antibiotic properties of herbs than drugs [3] such as these 7 gifts of nature:

7 Herbal Antibiotics

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It is best when eaten raw, garlic has antibacterial properties to strengthen the immune system. What's even better about garlic is your body will not naturally develop resistance against it [4] nor does it fight the healthy bacteria your body needs like those which line your intestines. [5] Because the potent effects of garlic remain when uncooked, it's better to take it in smaller doses to avoid upsetting the stomach. [6]

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Tea tree 

Mixed with olive or almond oil and externally applied, the Australian native tea tree is an herbal antibiotic to fight bacteria, fungal infections and viruses on contact. In some cases, it is likened to a milder form of rubbing alcohol. [4] Its practical uses include combatting fungal nail infections and athlete's foot. [5]

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It is an anti-inflammatory herb, goldenseal alleviates liver, gastrointestinal issues [2] and is known to effectively fight 19 types of bacteria when used long-term. [4]

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Aloe vera

When its sap is externally applied to wounds or burns, aloe vera hastens the healing, adds comfort and prevents infection.[6] Aside from wounds and burns, this native plant can kill bacteria causing rashes, inflammation and constipation. [2]

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Like garlic, ginger is best consumed raw to maximize on its antibacterial effects. Ginger also has known anti-nausea and anti-fungal properties and can aid sufferers of diarrhea.[5]

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If you experience early signs of colds, sore throat or flu, try this herb before resorting to more drastic antibiotics. Echinacea can also help those suffering from hay fever, ear infections, urinary tract infections, sunburn, enlarged prostate and lymph glands recover faster. [2]

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Another powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal herb that can be used to improve indigestion, small intestinal ulcers, viral infections and hepatitis. [2]Be careful however of its side effects especially when taken with other medications.

This doesn't mean though that all synthetic antibiotics should be forbidden. But where mild infections, cuts, injuries can be remedied by herbs, these will help you reduce dependency on pharmaceutical drugs so that when you really do need these medications for more serious disorders, they can more effectively work for you even in smaller dosages. [4]








Article researched and created by Cathy Ongking, © 2013
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