This sweet, crunchy root contains more carotenoids, the antioxidants that give carrots their yellow-orange pigment, than any other veggie. That’s why they are so good for you! Carotenoids may protect against certain types of cancer, heart disease, and cataracts. What’s more, beta-carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A, essential for healthy skin and a strong immune system. Other virtues of carrots: soluble fiber, vitamin C, and bone strengthening calcium.
Buy & Store: Choose firm, deep orange carrots without splits or cracks. If the leafy tops are attached, they should be bright green. Trim them down immediately to one inch; otherwise the roots will go limp and lose nutrients more quickly. Compost or discard the greens, or toss them into a salad (they taste a bit like parsley). Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, carrots without their tops will stay fresh for about two weeks.
Preparation Tip: Since beta-carotene is fat soluble, combining carrots with a little healthy fat-for instance, tossing them into a salad with a vinaigrette-will help your body absorb the antioxidant more fully. If you’re cooking carrots, try steaming them: put carrots in a basket or colander, cover, over simmering water until crisp-tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Just be sure not to reduce them to mush-overcooking carrots can destroy all that precious beta-carotene.