Winter is upon us and it is time to indulge in some crunchy, sweet carrots. A popular winter vegetable, carrot is used to prepare several delicious dishes during this season. From a simple gajar-matar sabzi to the toothsome gajar ka halwa, every recipe defines satisfaction. Alongside its popularity in every kitchen across the world, what adds on to the fame is its rich nutrient-profile. Carrot is loaded with beta-carotene, fibre, antioxidants, calcium and several essential vitamins and minerals that help boost weight loss, digestion, eye-health, skin-health et al. But did you know including this orange-coloured delight in your daily diet may also be great for your heart? How, you ask?
As mentioned earlier, carrot is rich in beta-carotene. Other than giving carrot its orange colour, beta-carotene in your diet is converted to vitamin A in the body. And this conversion, as per researchers at University of Illinois, reduces the level of bad cholesterol in the blood. It can also help prevent atherosclerosis development - a major heart-related threat around the world. For the unversed, Atherosclerosis cardiovascular disease is basically accumulation of fats and cholesterol in our arteries. However, "to get the full health benefits of this superfood, you need an active enzyme to produce this vitamin," a report on the University website reads.
The researchers conducted two studies (one on humans and the other on mice) to find the effects of beta-carotene on heart health.
In the first study, researchers surveyed blood and DNA samples of 767 healthy young adults, who were aged between 18 and 25. They found that an enzyme, referred to as beta carotene oxygenase 1 (BCO1) is responsible for the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A and has a link with cholesterol level. People with less active enzyme produced less vitamin A and had higher cholesterol level.
"People who had a genetic variant associated with making the enzyme BCO1 more active had lower cholesterol in their blood. That was our first observation," explained Jaume Amengual, assistant professor of personalized nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at University of Illinois. The findings of the first study were published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Also Read: This Beta Carotene-Rich Soup Is Ideal For Your Nourishment - Expert Shares Recipe
Beta carotene is responsible for the rich colour of the vegetables
The second study (on mice) was a follow up to the first study. It was conducted to understand the long-term effect of the observation.
"The main findings of the mice study reproduce what we found in humans. We saw that when we give beta-carotene to mice, they have lower cholesterol levels. These mice develop smaller atherosclerosis lesions, or plaques, in their arteries. This means that mice fed beta-carotene are more protected against atherosclerosis than those fed a diet without this bioactive compound," Amengual states. The findings were published in the Journal of Lipid Research.
Considering the above factors, we bring you some healthy recipes that can help you include carrot in your diet in the yummiest way possible. Read on.
5 Carrot-Based Recipes For You:
Orange and Carrot Detox Drink
This carrot-based drink can probably be one of the healthiest foods to start your day with. It is light, nutritious and fills you with energy to keep going for the whole day. Click here for recipe.
Carrot Ginger Soup
This hearty bowl of soup is packed with all things healthy and nutritious. Alongside including a good amount of nutrient in your diet, this carrot-ginger soup can keep you warm during winters. Click here for recipe.
Roasted Carrot Hummus
If you are someone who love stashing hummus in your refrigerator for anytime use, then this recipe is just for you. It has a rich taste and strong flavour, and provides you a good amount of nutrients. This makes the roasted carrot hummus ideal for both dieters and non-dieters. Click here for recipe.
We all are aware of those weird-time hunger pangs. Here's an amazing carrot cracker recipe that can be a healthy option to opt for. Have it as is, or pair with your chai/coffee, this snack is just delicious. Click here for recipe.
Gajar Ka Achaar
We also found a carrot-based pickle recipe to pair with your daily meal. It is loaded with health benefitting nutrients and tastes best when paired with roti-sabzi or paratha. Click here for recipe.
(Note: The food suggestions are not a part of the study.)