Benefits of Carrot (Gajar)
Botanical Name: Oaucus carota
Family Name : Umbelliferae
Hindi Name : Gajar
A large number of carrot varieties, some indigenous but mostly imported from Europe and America, are cultivated in India. The colour of the roots in the cultivated types varies from yellowish, orange, light purple, deep purple, to deep red etc.
An annual or biennial herb, with twice or thrice pinnate leaves and flattish umbebs of small, white flowers, each with a single, central crimson or red brown floret. The fruit is oblong, dorsally flattered, with prickles tipped by minute bristles.
Indigenous to Kashmir and western Himalayas, carrot is now largely cultivated in India for culinary purposes.
Root and seeds.
Aromatic, stimulant, carminative, lithontriptic, antifertile, abortifacient, diuretic, galactagogic, ophthalmic and source of minerals.
Forms of Use
Juice, decoction, essence, tincture.
Carrot is valued as food mainly because it is a rich source of the fat soluble hydrocarbon, C40 Hw the beta form of which is the precursor of Vitamin A.
The protein content of carrot tends to decrease and the total carbohydrate content tends to increase with growth. Sucrose, glucose and starch are present. Vitamin C is present in the form of a protein-ascorbic acid complex. Vitamin D, a substance with the characteristics of vitamin E and a phospholipid of vitamin reactions corresponding to A and D containing calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen in organic linkage are also present.
Cooking brings about a considerable loss in the nutrient value of carrots. There is a loss in total solids, total nitrogen, sugars and ash constituents. Ascorbic acid is partially oxidised and a part of vitamin D is also lost. So, steam cooking is better.
Carrot products like carrot juice, carotene concentrates, carrot oil etc. are prepared by canning and dehydration. Both canning and dehydration have been used for preserving carrots. The carotene content of canned carrot is slightly affected by storage for six month, Vitamin B1 & B2 are better retained but there is loss of vitamin C. It is stored in cans after pressure-cooking and oven-cooking.
For dehydration, carrots are subjected to steam blanching for 5-7 minutes. The sliced material is dipped in a solution of sulphur dioxide before blanching, as this treatment improves colour retention in dehydrated products. Carrots are dried to 5% moisture or less and packed in containers with nitrogen. The dehydrated product retains most of the vitamins.
Carrot juice is prepared by pressing carrots. After routine treatment, juice is stored and remains fresh for over a year. It retains all the vitamins and minerals.
Beta-carotene concentrates are prepared from fresh or dried carrots. The juice-free carrots are macerated and digested with alkali under pressure and the carotene is extracted with mineral oil.
(i) Carrot has a beneficial influence on kidneys and dropsy, and prevents the brick-dust sediment sometimes found in the urine.
(ii) Carrots clear the blood and are recommended in chronic diarrhoea.
(iii) A decoction of carrot is useful in jaundice.
(iv) Seeds are used as aphrodisiac and nervine tonic.
(v) Intake of seeds is avoided during pregnancy as it can cause abortion.
(vi) It is a good source of vitamin A. Beta-carotene present in carrots is a precursor of vitamin A. One unit of beta- carotene gives two units of vitamin A, and is good for eyesight. This conversion is done by the liver and it is stored in our body.
(vii) An infusion of carrot has long been used as a folk remedy for thread worms.
(viii) Carrot leaves contain a vitamin E-rich oil and, in some areas, are used in the making of soup.
(ix) Carrot is rich in alkaline elements which purify and revitalize the blood. It nourishes the entire system and helps in the maintenance of acid-alkaline balance in the body.
(x) Carrot contains good amount of anti-cancer nutrient, beta-carotene. One should make use of it daily in each meal.
(xi) The juice of carrot is known as a "Miracle juice." It makes a fine health-giving drink for children and adults alike. It strengthens the eyes and keeps the mucus membranes of all cavities of the body in healthy condition. It is beneficial in the treatment of dry and rough skin.
(xii) Chewing a carrot immediately after food kills all the harmful germs in the mouth. It cleans the teeth, removes the food particles from cavities and checks bleeding of the gums and tooth decay.
(xiii) Regular use of carrot prevents formation of gastric ulcer and other digestive disorders.
(xiv) Carrot juice is an effective remedy in diseases like intestinal colic, colitis, appendicitis, peptic ulcer and dyspepsia.
(xv) Carrot soup is an effective natural remedy for diarrhoea as it gives sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur and magnesium essential to check diarrhoea. Besides, it is good source of pectin and coats the intestine to allay inflammation. It checks growth of harmful bacteria and prevents vomiting. It is specially useful for children (1/2 kg carrot to be cooked in 150 ml water until it becomes soft, water is drained, little salt is added, 1/2 cup soup is given every half an hour).
(xvi) Carrots are useful in the removal of worms from children. A small cup of juice or two medium-sized carrots taken in the morning for at least a week clears the thread worms.