Trendy vegetables come and go, but carrots are a perennially popular pick in the produce department! I’m a non-discriminating vegetable lover and would never suggest kicking kale to the curb or saying bye-bye to beets, but these veggies, among other others, have enjoyed more than their fair share of time in the proverbial sun and now seem to be wilting away. But, let’s not forget about the tried-and-true carrot!
All ages and all stages love carrots. Babies spoon up pureed carrots, kids munch on crunchy carrot sticks, and even finickiest of foodies can find a gourmet carrot recipe to delight. Thanks to a host of health benefits and an easy-to-pack profile, this enduring edible also makes the perfect superfood for all types of athletes including runners, triathletes, football players, CrossFitters and other sporty types. Plus, carrots are filling but are low in calories, with only about 50 calories for a cup of carrot slices or 5-ounces of baby carrots. If still questioning how carrots can help your athletic performance and need some great carrot recipes, read on:
Need energy to fuel your workout? Carrots offer long-lasting energy in the form of complex carbohydrates that tops off the glucose in your tank without the crash-and-burn of a sugary processed snack. Toss carrots or carrot juice in your gym bag when in a hurry and add to salads, soups and baked goods at home.
Want to dodge delayed onset muscle fatigue? Carrots are a food than naturally fights inflammation, including the micro muscle damage, swelling and body aches that can be attributed to overdoing it at the gym, on a run or other sporting event.
Difficulty seeing in the dark? Eating carrots can sharpen your eyesight in dark and shadowy conditions, which may be helpful to many nocturnal adventures including running night relay legs, driving in the dark, or spelunking through cavernous blackouts. The beta-carotene in carrots converts to vitamin A which the eye’s retinas transform into rhodopsin, a purple pigment essential to night vision.
Have post-competition battle wounds? From scrapes and small cuts acquired on an obstacle course to minor road burn from a bike mishap, carrots can be used to prevent infection and promote healing. Doctors of natural medicine say that small cuts and scratches can be treated with the application of carrots that have been fresh grated or boiled and mashed into a paste.
Outdoor fun, but too much sun? Although definitely not a replacement for sunscreen with UV protection, the vitamin A and antioxidants in carrots helps protect skin from sun damage – another reason to explore carrots!
Skin and hair dry from over-exposure to elements? Adequate vitamin A intake, such as that found in carrots, helps ensure that hair, nails and skin stay soft and supple. Some studies even suggest that the hyaluronic acid in carrots helps to lessen the incidence of wrinkles as we age.
Electrolytes out of whack? The continued sweat lost during exercise can do a number on your health, causing dehydration, confusion and other unpleasant and potentially dangerous problems. Carrots are packed with potassium, a mineral that helps to balance sodium and overall electrolyte levels in the body – consider adding some carrot juice to your race fuel.
Bloated and feeling sluggish? The higher dietary fiber content in carrots helps move waste through the intestines and cleanses the colon, keeping you light on your feet. Word of caution, for this relatively quick in-and-out reason, you may want to scale back on carrots the day before an important endurance competition.
An interesting thing to note: The carotenes in carrots are more bioavailable when they are cooked! Yes, unlike some veggies, carrots deliver more of their goodness when steamed or otherwise heated. Try some of these healthy carrot recipes for inspiration.
Carrot Recipes I Love:
- Butternut Carrot Coconut Cream Noodles
- Paleo Carrot Ginger Gazpacho
- Colorful Pea & Carrot Tart
- Apple Cider Bourbon Glazed Carrots
- Mediterranean Carrot Fennel Green Olive Salad
- Lightened Carrot Cake Muffins
- Thai Carrot Crab Noodle Soup
- Carrot Ginger Date Smoothie
Have you tried any of the colored carrots?! What is your favorite veggie carb to fuel sports? Any races this weekend? Let’s chat in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer