Baby carrots are commonly added to lunch boxes and are a popular addition to vegetable trays and salads or blended into delicious smoothies. Although the name may lead you to think that this is just the small version of the larger carrots, that’s not true. Baby carrots are slightly sweeter than large, whole carrots. Also, their core is different from that of regular carrots. Not to mention that, unlike their peers, baby carrots are peeled.
Baby carrots have, over the years, become popular. Today, they are one of the most commonly consumed vegetables in the United States. Baby carrots are a great addition to your daily diet, providing fiber, beta-carotene, and other valuable nutrients.
Like regular carrots, baby carrots provide the body with many health benefits. Nevertheless, since they are peeled, they lose some of the nutrition potentials, but only for those who peel regular carrots. For instance, the carrot’s skin provides high amounts of vitamin C.[i] Therefore, since regular carrots aren’t peeled; they offer almost double the amount of vitamin C you get from baby carrots.
Other incredible health benefits may be attributed to the vitamin A content. Also, carrots provide fiber that also offers many nutritional advantages.
May Promote Heart Health
Baby carrots are rich in phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that might help reduce risks of cardiovascular disease. Research shows that polyphenols present in carrots help increase bile secretion that reduces triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Also, baby carrot provides the dietary fiber that helps reduce risks of heart disease and lower serum cholesterol.[ii]
Protects Against Loss Of Vision
Vitamin A present in the baby carrot offers carotenoids with many antioxidant functions. These substances accumulate in the retina and are especially helpful in preventing AMD (Age-related macular degeneration), a known cause of vision loss that might occur as you grow old.[iii] Research has shown that eating carrots, and other types of foods containing zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta-carotene can help reduce AMD risks and protect your vision.[iv]
Might Reduce Risks Of Cancer
Baby carrots contain vitamin A, which protects DNA from oxidative damage that might result in cancer. Although regular carrots are available in different colors, each provides other antioxidants. However, all baby carrots are orange in color. The beta-carotene in baby carrots might help protect against certain cancers. One study showed that increased intake of carrots reduces risks of gastric and prostate cancers.[v]
Help Prevent Cognitive Decline
A study found that a diet that includes carrots might offer cognitive benefits. Increased intake of raw or cooked vegetables like carrots was linked to reduced risks of dementia.
Preserve Dental Health
Eating crunchy raw carrots might help maintain strong and healthy teeth. One study investigated the rate of teeth loss among the elderly in Japan. The study showed that increasing intake of beta-carotene plays a role in preserving dental health.[vi]
A 100g serving of baby carrots contains 35 calories and about 8g of carbs. This includes 4.8g naturally-occurring sugars and 2.9g of fiber. However, the glycemic index (GI) for baby calories hasn’t yet been recorded. According to different sources, the GI of boiled or raw carrots is between 35 and 39, making them a low glycemic food.[viii] Nevertheless, carrots are usually considered high glycemic veggies since they are high in sugar than green beans or broccoli.
100g serving of baby carrots only contains 0.1g per serving, which makes them almost fat-free.
Baby carrots aren’t a great source of proteins. 100g serving of baby carrots only contains 0.6g of this valuable nutrient.
Minerals and Vitamins
Baby carrots are a great source of vitamin A. They provide about 6391 mcg of beta-carotene. This essential antioxidant gives baby carrots the orange color. Baby carrots are an excellent source of vitamin K. Also, carrots offer lower amounts of iron, folate, manganese, and potassium.
Consuming large amounts of baby carrots isn’t likely to cause any adverse effects. Nevertheless, if you consume large amounts regularly, it’s likely that you’ll develop a harmless condition known as carotenemia.
Carotenemia is a condition where the skin starts becoming yellow due to a high intake of beta-carotene. Foods with high amounts of beta-carotene include carrots, papaya, mango, and apricots. However, the yellowing effect slowly resolves after a person reduces their intake of beta-carotene.[ix]
There are very few studies that have investigated allergic reactions to carrots. However, the few studies that exist show that allergic reactions to carrots are only found in around 25% of individuals with other food allergies.[x] For instance, if you’re allergic to birch tree pollen, you might eventually experience some cross-reactivity triggered by baby carrots. Symptoms might appear instantly or might take longer after exposure.[xi] Consult an allergist in case you suspect an allergic reaction after eating carrots.
Baby carrots have evolved over the past few years. The variety was first discovered back in the ’80s when a farmer sought to find a productive use for broken or misshapen carrots discarded after harvest. The carrots were whittled down to small-sized carrots, which consumers found easy to eat and more convenient than the regular carrots that needed peeling and cutting.
The main difference between baby carrots and regular carrots is evident if you take a closer look at the core of each. While the baby carrot has a smaller core, the regular carrot has a large core.
To many, this might come as a surprise, but the thin-tall bugs green tops on baby carrots are edible. They are not just palatable but are loaded with many valuable nutrients and are super delicious.
Baby carrots grow in a vegetative state, which means they don’t have flowers.
Mike Yurosek, a California carrot farmer, discovered baby carrots in the 1980s. In 1986, Yurosek realized that most of his carrots couldn’t be sealed and sold because they were ‘ugly’ in the sense that they weren’t the shape and size that could be sold. Instead of discarding these carrots as he used to do before, the farmer used the industrial bean cutter to shape the carrots into what we now call “baby carrots.”
Amazingly, the success of these baby carrots was incredible. By the year 1987, consumption of carrots went up by 30%. Today, baby carrots comprise about 70% of carrot sales in the United States.
Immature roots of a growing carrot plant are at times harvested as a result of thinning. Also, specific carrot cultivars have previously been grown for use in the baby stage. Amsterdam Forcing is one such cultivar. The process was created by Beechnut farms and subsequently sold to Zellwin farms. By 2006, almost ¾ of the baby carrots grown in the US came from California. Grimmway Farms and Bolthouse Farms are the world’s biggest commercial growers, processors, and distributors of baby carrots.
Because of the peeling and shaping of the baby carrots, some nutrients are lost. Nevertheless, baby carrots are still packed with many nutrients.
How To Prepare
Many people eat baby carrots raw, but the carrots can also be cooked into a wide variety of dishes. Cooked baby carrots are a common ingredient in stews and soups. Add the freshly shredded carrots to a veggie salad, or dip the baby carrots in hummus. Roasting baby carrots brings out the natural sweetness.
Also, you can blend them into a smoothie or use baby carrots to make juice. Also, carrots might be marinated and sliced thin as a topping or side dish. If you eat baby carrots raw, either consume them plain or pick a nutritious dip to improve their health benefits.
Storage Tips And Food Safety
Since their skin has been removed, baby carrots have a shorter lifespan than regular carrots. If stored in a refrigerator, baby carrots can stay fresh for a maximum of four weeks. However, manufacturers don’t recommend freezing baby carrots. However, according to the USDA[xii], frozen carrots can remain fresh for up to 3 months.
When are baby carrots best?
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- [i] Does Peeling Carrots Remove Nutrients? Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter. Updated September 17, 2019
- [ii] McRae MP. Dietary fiber Is beneficial for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: An umbrella review of meta-analyses. J Chiropr Med. 2017;16(4):289-299. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2017.05.005
- [iii] Vitamin A: Fact Sheets for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated 2020.
- [iv] Wu J, Cho E, Willett WC, Sastry SM, Schaumberg DA. Intakes of lutein, zeaxanthin, and other carotenoids and age-related macular degeneration during 2 decades of prospective follow-up. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015;133(12):1415–1424. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.3590
- [v] Chen H, Shao F, Zhang F, Miao Q. Association between dietary carrot intake and breast cancer: A meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(37):e12164. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000012164
- [vi] Ishimiya M, Nakamura H, Kobayashi Y, et al. Tooth loss-related dietary patterns and cognitive impairment in an elderly Japanese population: The Nakajima study. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(3):e0194504. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0194504
- [vii] Carrots,baby, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- [viii] Carrots, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2020.
- [ix] Edigin E, Asemota IR, Olisa E, Nwaichi C. Carotenemia: A case report. Cureus. 2019;11(7):e5218. Published 2019 Jul 23. doi:10.7759/cureus.5218
- [x] Ballmer-Weber BK, Wüthrich B, Wangorsch A, Fötisch K, Altmann F, Vieths S. Carrot allergy: double-blinded, placebo-controlled food challenge and identification of allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001;108(2):301-307. doi:10.1067/mai.2001.116430
- [xi] Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) or pollen fruit syndrome (PFS). American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
- [xii] Baby Carrots. USDA Foodkeeper App. Updated April 26, 2019Baby Carrots. USDA Foodkeeper App. Updated April 26, 2019