Carrots

Carrots are nutritional heroes; they store a goldmine of nutrients. No other vegetable or fruit contains as much carotene as carrots, which the body converts to vitamin A. This is a truly versatile vegetable and an excellent source of vitamins B and C as well as calcium pectate, an extraordinary pectin fiber that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties.

Unlike most other vegetables (though not all), carrots are more nutritious when eaten cooked than eaten raw (except when juiced). Because raw carrots have tough cellular walls, the body is able to convert less than 25 per cent of their beta carotene into vitamin A. Cooking, however, partially dissolves cellulose-thickened cell walls, freeing up nutrients by breaking down the cell membranes.

So long as the cooked carrots are served as part of a meal that provides some fat the body can absorb more than half of the carotene. Also, it is usual for carrots to be cut into pieces and eaten after boiling or steaming, but done in this way, half the proteins and soluble carbohydrates will be lost so it is more advisable to cook them whole and then cut up.

Carrots are available all year. Carrots should have smooth skins, good orange color and be well formed. Do not purchase if wilted, cracked or flabby or if tops are green. Keep refrigerated. Carrots are high in vitamin A if not kept soaking in water.