When you hear the term “baby carrot,” the first thing you think of is likely the peeled and perfectly cut carrots popular in party platters and lunch boxes across the US. What you might not know, however, is that there’s another, less processed type of baby carrot too.
True baby carrots are simply carrots that are harvested before growing to full maturity. They’re about 3 to 4 inches long and, as you might imagine, they look like tiny versions of their fully-grown counterparts. The baby carrots that most people know, on the other hand, are made by cutting up and shaving down broken pieces of mature carrots.
Both types of baby carrots share similar nutrient profiles to mature carrots. They’re chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more, making them an excellent addition to your diet.
Just one serving of baby carrots has 250% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin A. This antioxidant is vital for eye health and your immune system. It also helps to keep your heart, kidneys, and other organs functioning properly.
Other health benefits of baby carrots include:
The vitamin A in baby carrots plays a huge role in helping you to maintain healthy eyes. Also called retinol, this antioxidant can also help to protect your eyes from issues like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Baby carrots have a decent amount of dietary fiber. Fiber supports healthy digestion and can help to decrease your risk of colon cancer.
The vitamin C in baby carrots helps to support a healthy immune system. When your immune system works properly, your body can fight off infections and heal more effectively.
Vitamin A and other antioxidants in baby carrots help your body fight off free radicals and oxidative stress. This helps to promote healthy, glowing skin and protects against sun damage.
Baby carrots can help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Their crunchy texture lets them act almost like a toothbrush. They scrub your teeth as you chew and remove harmful plaque buildup from the enamel. Also, by scrubbing your teeth, baby carrots can remove surface stains, leaving you with a brighter smile.
Reduced Risk of Certain Cancers
The carotenoids in baby carrots work as antioxidants, potentially reducing your risk of prostate cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, and other types of cancer. The vegetable also has compounds called polyacetylenes, which may have anti-cancer properties.
Lower Risk of Developing Diabetes
A high-fiber diet may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While baby carrots do have some natural sugars in them, they’re a high-fiber, low-calorie food low on the glycemic index. This makes them a delicious way to help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.
Nutrients Per Serving
A standard serving of baby carrots (3/4 cup) has:
- Calories: 40
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 9 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 5 grams
- Sodium: 45 milligrams
Other nutrients in baby carrots include:
Along with these essential vitamins and minerals, baby carrots also have lots of antioxidants. All of the nutrients in this tiny, bright orange vegetable help to provide you with many health benefits.
How to Prepare Baby Carrots
When selecting baby carrots, look for ones that are bright orange in color. Baby carrots should also be firm and crisp.
If you’re buying the manufactured baby carrots sold in bags, avoid bags with too much moisture in them, as the water can promote rot. You should also make sure that the baby carrots aren’t slimy or soft.
You can eat baby carrots raw for a crunchy snack. You can also pair them with dips, add them to salads, and cook them in a variety of recipes. Some ways to prepare baby carrots include:
- Dipped into hummus or peanut butter for a healthy afternoon snack.
- Cut into slivers and mixed into a salad with other fresh vegetables and a light vinaigrette.
- Added to a smoothie for added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Run through a juicer for a refreshing, bright orange beverage (along with other vegetables or fruits for added flavor and nutrients).
- Boiled and served with butter.
- Sauteed with brown sugar and honey or maple syrup then topped with fresh dill and thyme.
- Coated in a drizzle of olive oil and roasted with other root vegetables for a warm and hearty side dish.