October’s food of the month is: carrot!

Carrots are known for their protective quality on eyesight thanks to the large quantities of Vitamin A in them. However, did you know that carrots are also good for your emotional health?

Their famous orange color is due to the abundance of carotenes in them. The most famous carotene is the Beta-Carotene which protects against declining memory and thought processes as well as learning skills that often precede Alzheimer’s disease. Carrots are also high in Vitamin B6 which is vital for a healthy function of the nervous system. A Vitamin B6 deficiency is characterized by irritability and low mood. In fact, many people who are depressed have a Vitamin B6 deficiency. Because Vitamin B6 is necessary to convert tryptophan to serotonin (a neurotransmitter associated with good mood), a deficiency in the vitamin can significantly affect the levels of serotonin in the brain, thus negatively affecting mood.

They are also high in Vitamin C, which has many positive effects on your emotions and mood. Specifically, when we are stressed our adrenal glands secrete a large amount of cortisol (the stress hormone). When the stress is constant or chronic, our adrenal glands become weak and overworked and Vitamin C has been shown to repair the damage to adrenal glands from chronic stress.

In addition, carrots contain high levels of potassium. A lack of potassium in our diet is also linked to depressive symptoms such as tearfulness, weakness and fatigue.

Folic acid is also found in carrots and has been shown to have very strong protective factors against low mood and mental health issues. Specifically, folic acid is used to produce red blood cells and improve their functioning. A deficiency in folic acid affects the health of red blood cells, the amount of oxygen reaching the brain and can lead to fatigue, depression and other mental health issues. In addition, folic acid is necessary to manufacture serotonin as well, so high levels of folic acid in the diet can help improve and maintain a positive mood.

Carrots are also high in two important minerals: thiamine and magnesium. Thiamine is crucial to nerve function and protecting against several mental and emotional health issues. A deficiency in thiamine can lead to depression, psychosis, apathy, anxiety and irritability. Thiamine deficiency is most commonly seen in alcoholics and binge drinkers. An increase of thiamine in the diet is also related to improving memory and thought processes.

Magnesium is equally important for mental and emotional problems in that a magnesium deficiency most often results in fatigue, moodiness, anxiety and insomnia.

If these aren’t enough reasons to eat carrots, they also protect against a wide range of physical maladies as well: such as high blood pressure, cancer, insulin resistance, heart disease and stroke.

So do your mind and body a huge favor and increase the amount of carrots you include in your diet! Try out some of the carrot recipes featured on this website this month for some creative ways to eat carrots.

Gajar Halwa (see recipe)

Sugar-free Carrot Cake (see recipe)

Chicken and Vegetable Quiche (see recipe)

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