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Carrot Genome Web Sequenced - May 2016 - An international team has sequenced and begun an analysis of the genome of the carrot, Daucus carota.

The new, high-quality genome assembly, which the researchers established for an orange doubled-haploid carrot, contains more than 32,000 predicted protein-coding genes. As the researchers reported today in Nature Genetics, they were able to track down a candidate gene involved in orange carrot pigmentation and gained insight into the evolution of plants in the euasterid II lineage, which contains carrots, lettuce, sunflower, celery, and parsley.

Read more here.

January 2015

Supermarket chain ASDA will begin selling misshapen fruit and vegetables at five of its stores later this month, in a bid to reduce food waste.

The ‘Beautiful on the Inside’ trial, beginning on 26 January, will see crooked carrots, misshapen potatoes and other knobbly fruit and vegetables sold at reduced prices to shoppers. The campaign will be supported by marketing material featuring characters such as: Carlos Citrus; Paul Potato; Suzie Swede; Claude Carrot; Alfie Apple; and Penny Pear.

November 2014

A study by the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian has found that children who grew up during the Second World War became far more intelligent than those who were born just 15 years before.

Researchers think that cutting rich, sugary and fatty foods out of the diets of growing children had a hugely beneficial impact on their growing brains.

Consequently, children born in 1936 grew up to have IQ scores on average 16.5 points ahead of those born in 1921.

read more here: BBC report

(source - Intelligence Journal - Intelligence Volume 47, November–December 2014, Pages 194–201 - Aging trajectories of fluid intelligence in late life: The influence of age, practice and childhood IQ on Raven's Progressive Matrices R.T. Staff, M.J. Hogan, L.J. Whalley)

September 2014

Carotenoid skin colouration is found more attractive than melanin colouration - here

New World Record Carrot (heaviest category) - here

This year's harvest

June 2014

Carrots hold key to beating cancer, say scientists

CARROTS could be key to beating cancer, according to scientists.

By: Jo Willey Published: Fri, June 20, 2014 (UK Daily Express)

They contain powerful ­cancer-busting chemicals, experts at Newcastle University have found.

The natural compounds, known as poly­acetylenes, protect the plant from attack by pests and diseases. They occur only in veg­etables of the carrot family and a few other closely related species such as ginseng.

Previous tests have shown the compounds can have beneficial effects in tackling inflammation and cancer. They were also found to reduce cancer growth in rats.

Now researchers have launched a three-year study to measure the effects of root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and celeriac on cancer and inflammatory diseases like arthritis.

A team of food scientists, chemists and ­doctors will recruit scores of volunteers to take part in a dietary trial.

Project supervisor Dr Kirsten Brandt, senior lecturer in the university’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, said: “After seeing the positive effects of feeding carrots in the animal experiments, it is important to test if it also works in humans, in particular to find out how much carrot we must eat to obtain a health benefit.”

Dr Wendy Wrieden, of the univers­ity’s Human Nutrition Research ­Centre, said: “We know that eating a variety of vegetables and fruit can reduce the risk of some cancers and other chronic diseases.

“Hopefully this work will give us a clearer picture of the role of vegetables and perhaps provide encouragement to the public to eat more.”

Research in China has already shown that carrots, best known for supposedly helping us to see in the dark, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by a fifth

The team will investigate how much of the poly­acetylenes are absorbed into the body when the vegetables are eaten raw, boiled or fried and in large or small pieces.

The water or oil in which they have been cooked will also be tested to see if there are any health benefits in re-using it in stews or soup.

Previous research by Dr Brandt found that carrots contain the anti-cancer compound falcarinol, which reduced tumours in rats by a third. But falcarinol, like vitamin C and sugar, is soluble and lost when carrots are boiled.

At the time, Dr Brandt said the secret of healthier and tastier carrots was to use a bigger pan so they can be cooked whole.

She said that increases the anti-cancer properties in a cooked portion by 25 per cent.

The latest study is being partly funded by the British Carrot Growers’ Association.

Martin Evans, managing director of co-operative Freshgro, said: “It has long been accepted that carrots are very good for us but this research project will go much further in improving our knowledge and awareness of the health benefits of this group of root vegetables.”

Research in China has already shown that carrots, best known for supposedly helping us to see in the dark, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by a fifth. Men who ate carrots at least three times a week were 18 per cent less likely to develop a tumour.

And in the US, researchers at Harvard University found women who ate at least five carrots a week were nearly two-thirds less likely to have a stroke than those who ate them only once a month.

February 2014 - California - Search for the perfect carrot

Researchers and carrot industry representatives recently met at the University of California Desert Research & Extension Center to evaluate a number of carrot breeds.For a consumer, the perfect carrot would likely be nutritious, taste good and look good. Carrot growers have additional criteria. For instance, carrot tops — the leafy green bushels that sprout from the tops of the carrots—need to be strong enough to withstand harvesting machinery, said Rob Kane, a research laboratory technician with the University of Wisconsin. 

“The equipment is built to handle the crop,” he said. “And, the crop is built to withstand the equipment.” To ease home storage, growers favor carrots that are not longer than the width of a refrigerator drawer. “You want them to be accessible to whoever is at home,” Kane said. The carrot market has changed markedly over the years, and with it, the carrot.Growers select the type and number of seeds with an end-product in mind. Seeds selected for the cut-and-peel market — baby carrots — are planted closely together to restrict the diameter of the plant and encourage it to grow downward, said Phil Simon, researcher with United States Department of Agriculture and professor of horticulture at University of Wisconsin.

Baby carrots are geared toward production. Most baby carrots on the market are cut and whittled down from longer carrots. Those with a constant diameter are preferable to those that are tapered. Researchers are now trying to get more carrot segments out of every harvest. “When the baby industry started, they wanted three cuts. Now they’re trying to increase length,” Simon said. “Adding one more cut to a three-cut carrot gives you a 33 percent yield increase.”

Even a carrot’s appearance can have an impact on production. The smoother a carrot is, the easier it is to process, according to Shelby Ellison, a post-doctoral researcher in Simon’s lab. With all the talk about ease of production, the importance of flavor is not lost on researchers. “Sweetness is most important. Kids like a sweet flavor,” said Massimo Iorizzo, also a post-doctoral researcher in Simon’s lab.

Simon is presently sequencing the carrot genome to establish a framework for the industry to more easily grow carrots with desirable attributes, like sugar accumulation and pest resistance. Researchers are also working on bringing novelty carrots mainstream. Red and purple carrots are oftentimes heirloom varieties “not particularly adapted to conditions here,” Simon said.

Purple carrots are believed to originate in Turkey. Red carrots are believed to originate in China or Japan. “Those (red) carrots are cooked, so they don’t care about the flavor,” he said. For Paul Bender, an account manager with Nunhems, said that consumer demand for a convenient product is the main reason that the market has changed from fresh carrots to cut-and-peel.

And, while retailers are now driving the demand for colored carrots, the limiting factors are still the varieties and choices available. However, red carrots may soon be found on supermarket shelves. “Red is now a consistently good flavor,” Kane said. “They tried (to market) it a few years ago but it didn’t have a good flavor.”

See the Carrot Eye Chart here.

Carrots Can Tell Day from Night—and Even Get Jet Lag - read more at Smithsonian Science!

Carrots used to be better! - Vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.

A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.

The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal, found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent.

The key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favour of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers. Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers.

Vegetables aren’t as healthy as they used to be doesn’t mean we should avoid them. Vegetables are still extraordinarily rich in nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals and vegetables and fruit are our best sources for these.

The Future - A Rainbow Carrot?

How do you get people to eat more carrots? You excite their senses. Surprise them, say, with unexpected colour and explosive flavour. It’s a worthwhile tack to take, says Philipp Simon, plant geneticist at the Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wisconsin. He should know. Simon, who heads the ARS laboratory on the University of Wisconsin campus, helped elevate the humble carrot to its current prestigious position. Thanks to work he did with colleagues more than 25 years ago, the carrot is now an even better source of dietary vitamin A.

Using classical breeding methods, they helped boost the veggie’s already abundant stores of beta-carotene by 75 percent. Beta-carotene is what our bodies use to make all-important vitamin A, which is crucial for good eye health and a strong immune system. It’s also responsible for the carrot’s orange hue.

Simon would like to sneak in other nutrients too. That’s why, several years ago, he got to wondering: Why settle for just orange? After all, 700 years ago Western Europeans were feasting on carrots that ranged in colour from lemon-yellow to burgundy to purple. We can have the same variety today—and the healthful antioxidants associated with those brightly coloured pigments.

In addition to breeding yellow, red, deep-orange, purple, and even white carrots, Simon aims to create a “rainbow” carrot - a multi-pigmented root that naturally contains several antioxidants, such as lycopene, lutein, and anthocyanin.

Fuel for Cars?

Scientists now believe that bio fuels will be the answer to our energy needs when the oil runs out. One such fuel, perhaps within 10 years, will be carrots - it would take approximately 6000 carrots to drive one mile.

Hopefully, there will be inexpensive retrofits for older cars to convert to alternative fuels. It could cause a whole new problem if used cars started filling up junk yards because everyone decided to buy carrot fuelled cars. It would be much better to make car donations so someone in need could use it.

Scientists unveil New 'super carrot' (from the BBC, Spring 2008)

The new carrot could ward off osteoporosis Scientists in the US say they have created a genetically-engineered carrot that provides extra calcium. They hope that adding the vegetable to a normal diet could help ward off conditions such as brittle bone disease and osteoporosis. Someone eating the new carrot absorbs 41% more calcium than if they ate the old, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study suggests.

The calcium-charged vegetable still needs to go through many safety trials. "These carrots were grown in carefully monitored and controlled environments," said Professor Kendal Hirschi, part of the team at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. Much more research needs to be conducted before this would be available to consumers Professor Kendal Hirschi Baylor College of Medicine "Much more research needs to be conducted before this would be available to consumers." But the scientists nonetheless hope their carrot could ultimately offer a healthier way of consuming sufficient quantities of the mineral.

Dairy foods are the primary dietary source of calcium but some are allergic to these while others are told to avoid consuming too much due to their high fat content. A gene has been altered in the carrot which allows the calcium within it to cross more easily over the plant membranes. On its own, the carrot would not meet the daily requirement of 1,000mg of calcium, but if other vegetables were similarly engineered, intake could be increased dramatically.

It is not the first time the carrot has been tampered with. The orange colour we know is the result of Dutch cultivation in the 17th Century, when patriotic growers turned a vegetable which was then purple into the colour of the national flag. Nor is it the first vegetable to receive a healthy make-over. Genetic engineering is being used to develop potatoes with more starch and less water so that they absorb less oil when fried, producing healthier chips or crisps. Work is also being carried out on broccoli so that it contains more sulforaphane, a chemical which may help people ward off cancer.

Professor Susan Fairweather-Tait of the University of East Anglia said genetically engineering foods to increase their nutrient content was becoming an increasingly important avenue. "People are being told to eat more modestly to prevent weight gain, and many diets now no longer contain everything we need. "There has been great resistance to genetic engineering, but gradually we are moving away from the spectre of 'Frankenstein food' and starting to appreciate the health benefits it may bring."  Great news!


Researchers have created a new genetically engineered carrot that has 41 percent more calcium than the regular carrot, reports a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Altering a gene boosts levels of transporter proteins, which pump calcium from the soil into the plant. This kind of technology could help combat conditions like osteoporosis. The carrots may become available within three to five years (from 2008) .  Read more here

Standard Carrots - “This marks a new dawn for the curvy cucumber and the knobbly carrot,”

European Union bureaucrats are to usher in a new age of acceptance when it comes to knobbly fruit and vegetables, scrapping the rules dictating that only "standard" size carrots can be sold in shops.Forked Carrot Roots - still edible!

Misshapen and blemished fruit and vegetables are likely to find their way back on to supermarket shelves – although they may be labelled "for cooking" under reforms being proposed by the EU's Danish Agriculture and Rural Development commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel.

" We want to have two classes, allowing supermarkets to sell funny shaped vegetables," said Michael Mann, a spokesman for the European Commission.

Ms Fischer Boel wants to abandon the eccentric rules that brought scorn on the EU and led to criticism that perfectly formed harvests had been achieved at the expense of taste.  The rules specify the diameter of carrots that can be sold as class one, unless they are officially regarded as baby carrots.  The Commission will now formally adopt the changes which, for practical reasons, will be implemented from 1 July 2009.

This rule will be scrapped:

"Carrots - Carrots less than 1.9cm in diameter at the thick end could not be sold as class one, unless marketed as "baby" varieties."

The cream-coloured carrot is making a comeback

As your browse the vegetable racks in your local store, you could easily mistake them for parsnips. But after four centuries of orange varieties, a cream carrot is to appear in British shops. The new-look version is said to be crisp and crunchy in texture and sweeter in taste than its orange cousin.

A bunch of Creme de Lite, cream-coloured carrots, which will be stocked by Marks & Spencer shops from next week. Marks & Spencer is to stock the carrots, which are organically produced in Scotland. Carrots were originally white, cream and purple, and only became orange coloured through cross-breeding 400 years ago, the store's vegetable expert said.

The orange variety was developed by Dutch growers aiming to produce a less bitter version and was adopted by the royal family in the Netherlands, where orange is the national colour.

However, the new Creme de Lite variety is said to have been specially produced to lack any of the bitterness of the original. It is grown by farmer Steven Jack in the Moray Firth. It can be cooked or eaten raw, just like the orange version of the vegetable.

Marks & Spencer agronomist Dr Simon Coupe said: 'This speciality organic cream carrot is already prized in Europe and America for its crisp and crunchy texture, and is especially good in salads or cooked the same way you would a classic orange carrot.' Previous attempts to revitalise the huge carrot market have been unsuccessful. Sales of purple carrots dropped shortly after they were introduced when customers discovered the colour seeped out of the vegetable and into the cooking water.

Purple carrots are now propositioned as the next superfood.

The findings of the recent Australian study revealed the ancient carrot to be packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory goodness - up to 28 times more anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that are responsible for the purple-red pigment in raspberries and blueberries, than there are in orange carrots. 

Lindsay Brown, professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Southern Queensland who is also the study author said the purple carrots are the original carrots from the ancient Persia. Purple carrots are one of the wide variety of fruit and vegetables that are almost lost in the era of single supermarket varieties, just like other ancient tomato varieties.

While claims have previously been made about its health benefits, there were no tests to back up them, not until just recently. Conducting rat studies using purple carrots grown in Queensland, the rats were given high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet for 16 weeks to mirror the effects of unhealthy Western diet.

The rats soon developed high blood pressure, became fatter and glucose-intolerant - or prediabetic - and suffered heart and liver damage. Subsequently, in the second eight weeks, purple carrot juice were added into the rats' diet.

The results were a surprise to the scientists, and will be published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Prof Brown said miraculously everything went back to normal. "The blood pressure went down, the collagen in the heart was back to normal, the liver histology was back to normal, the liver enzymes, the glucose tolerance, the fat pads were all back to normal, despite continuing this ... terrible diet," she explained.

Purple carrots should be eaten coupled with a moderate diet and exercise, advised Prof Brown.

A Carrot Racing Car  read more here

$25m campaign to Get Kids to Eat Carrots by branding them like junk food - According to USA Today, a group of producers will unveil a sophisticated media campaign designed to drive a wedge between the munching public and our snack foods, a wedge in the shape of a carrot. This campaign will include repackaging carrots for school vending machines in bags that resemble Doritos (both orange, little-finger size, crunchy, so consumers probably won't even notice the difference, right?)

vending machine baby carrot bags

Baby Carrots Vending Machine 2010

Baby Carrot Com - The flash website is here.

Carrots boost brain health

A plant compound found in carrots, peppers, celery, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile helps reduce age-related inflammation in the brain and memory deficits, according to a new study conducted in mice.

The compound luteolin reduces age-related inflammation in the brain and related memory deficits by directly inhibiting the release of inflammatory molecules in the brain, researchers report. Read full report here

Food Waste - In industrialised countries, reducing food waste will require raising public awareness and changing consumer attitudes. On Carrot farms, photographic sensors scan all harvested carrots and reject those that are crooked, dull, blemished, too thin or too fat. As a result, 25 to 30 percent of carrots end up as animal feed even though they pose no health risk to humans. Many other fruit and vegetables are also set aside because supermarket managers believe consumers will not buy them for aesthetic reasons.

In the US a typical carrot has to travel 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table! (Source: Pirog, Rich, and Andrew Benjamin. "Checking the Food Odometer: Comparing Food Miles for Local Versus Conventional Produce Sales in Iowa Institutions." Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, July 2003.

Organic Food may be no better 

Organically grown onions, carrots, and potatoes generally do not have higher levels of healthful antioxidants and related substances than vegetables grown with traditional fertilizers and pesticides, scientists have reported. In the study, Pia Knuthsen and colleagues point out that there are many reasons to pay a premium for organic food products. The most important reasons for the popularity of organic food products include improved animal welfare, environmental protection, better taste, and possible health benefits. However, the health benefits of organic food consumption are still controversial and not considered scientifically well documented.

 The scientists describe experiments in which they analyzed antioxidants termed 'polyphenols' from onions, carrots and potatoes grown using conventional and organic methods. They found no differences in polyphenol content for organic vs. traditional methods of growth.

"On the basis of the present study carried out under well controlled conditions, it cannot be concluded that organically grown onions, carrots, and potatoes generally have higher contents of health-promoting secondary metabolites in comparison with the conventionally cultivated ones," the report stated. Their study has been published in ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The first "Protected Geographical Indication for a carrot declared by the European union. The equivalent of an appellation - only allowed to called so if grown in specified areas of Italy.

‘Carota Novella di Ispica’ PGI (protected geographical indication) is the product obtained by growing species Daucus carota L. (the cultivated carrot). The varieties used are based on the Nantes half-long carrot variety and appropriate hybrids such as Exelso, Dordogne, Nancò, Concerto, Romance, Naval, Chambor, Selene. Other hybrids may be used provided that they belong to the Nantes half-long variety and provided that the producers have proven through tests that they comply with the quality parameters for ‘Carota Novella di Ispica’. The use of new hybrids to produce ‘Carota Novella di Ispica’ is permitted subject to favourable evaluation of the tests by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies which may request for that purpose the technical opinion of the inspection body or another body.

Ispica is a town in Sicily not far from Ragusa.  Read more

Eskimo Carrot  F1 the first “green carrot” - Help with Climate Change and Carbon Footprint

A new carrot, Eskimo F1,  has been developed to have a very high degree of tolerance to cold, which means the variety can be grown for an extended period into the UK winter without the usual need for polythene and straw to protect the cropEskimo F1 carrot resistant to frost against frost. Straw and polythene are the norm in the UK for field storage so by eliminating their use, all the carbon emissions associated with this practice are effectively removed, making the carrot ‘greener’ to grow. Its unique feature of frost tolerance has been the main driving force behind the varieties success and this has developed a blue print for growers to achieve excellent quality, yield and pack out results from open field situations late into the winter.

The main advantage is that growers do not need to protect the Eskimo with costly straw and polythene due to its cold tolerance. This also reduces cost and for organic produces the carbon input of laying on the straw and polythene, taking it off and of course the carbon involved in producing the polythene in the first place.

Nickerson-Zwaan, the company which has developed the seeds, believe that the level of reduction in carbon emissions associated with open field Eskimo could be significant.  By extending the open field season using Eskimo F1, a large proportion of the extra carbon produced by straw and polythene can be avoided, reducing the overall carbon by usage by 56%.

The main features of Eskimo F1 are:

bullet  Late maincrop maturity for harvest from late September to early February
bullet  Strong roots with good resistance to splitting and breakage
bullet  Improved resistance to cavity spot and sclerotinia
bullet  High percentage marketable yield producing lower waste
bullet  Demonstrates enhanced drought tolerance in Dry seasons
bullet  Healthy erect foliage facilitating late top lifting and reducing mechanical damage.
bullet  Consumer feedback suggests excellent flavour and texture characteristics

Increased antioxidant capacity of Carrots - Studies suggest that a moderate, 14-second dose of UV-B can boost fresh, sliced carrots’ antioxidant capacity by about threefold.

Exposing sliced carrots to UV-B, one of the three kinds of ultraviolet light in sunshine, can boost the antioxidant activity of the colourful, crunchy veggie. That’s according to preliminary studies by Tara H. McHugh, a food technologist and research leader at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California, and her team.

Found mainly in fruits and vegetables, antioxidants are natural compounds that may reduce risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The carrot investigation, conducted by McHugh, postdoctoral associate Wen-Xian Du, and others, suggests that a moderate, 14-second dose of UV-B can boost fresh, sliced carrots’ antioxidant capacity by about threefold. The dose is energy-efficient and does not significantly heat or dry the carrots. Read more here.

Chantenay carrots snack pack launch 11 April 2011

Freshgro, the growers’ co-operative that pioneered bringing back Chantenay carrots to the UK has today launched the nation’s first Chantenay Carrot Snack Pack. The packs are set to be a hit with consumers who are looking for a quick but healthy snack, particularly while on the move and taps into the trend towards healthier eating.

For the first time, sliced carrots have been able to retain their distinctive shape thanks to cutting edge technology. As well as retaining their Chantenay appearance, the technology enables the carrots to retain their flavour, freshness and crunchy texture.

The packs are available in single, round 80g pots plus a multi-pack design of 4 x 65g snap packs which are easy to separate. Kids will love the snack pots which are perfect for little hands and lunchboxes. There are two striking pack designs, one aimed at adults which has a black and orange theme and one for children, with a fun and colourful design incorporating ‘Tiny C’ the lovable Chantenay cartoon character ensuring good on-shelf presence and stand out. Read more here.

USDA Replaces MyPyramid with Healthy MyPlate Icon The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a replacement for its current MyPyramid campaign in support of dietary recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. The new healthy plate icon is sectioned off to show fruits and vegetables as half of the plate making the recommendation easy to understand. The new healthy MyPlate icon developed by the USDA supports this concept … fill half your plate with colourful fruits and vegetables at every meal!

Grains & Protein. Grains and protein each represent less than one quarter of the plate. While the protein group was once known as the meat group, over time it has transitioned to incorporate other protein-rich foods such as fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.

Dairy. The dairy group has been moved to a circle next to the plate and defined as fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt.

Fruits & Vegetables. The biggest star of the MyPlate debut is fruits and vegetables, winning half the available real estate on the plate.

The plate stresses the key concept of filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables (that doesn’t mean potato chips!). Overall, the new plate image encourages a more plant-based diet.

And the best part … the plate icon is an easy enough tool for children to use too! Children and parents can learn to eat healthfully while sitting around their dinner plates.

Creating a healthy eating plan doesn’t have to be complicated! Instead of worrying about the minor details, focus on these key guidelines:

Balancing Calories

● Enjoy your food, but eat less. ● Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase

● Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. ● Make at least half your grains whole grains. ● Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

● Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers. ● Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Visit MyPlate to create a balanced eating plan specific to you, and take the Pledge to eat MORE fruits and vegetables!

Remember that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans stresses the move to a more plant-based diet, specifically instructing Americans to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables.  Myplate website here.

Exposing sliced carrots to UV-B, one of the three kinds of ultraviolet light in sunshine, can boost the antioxidant activity of the colourful, crunchy veggie. See USDA research here.

Found mainly in fruits and vegetables, antioxidants are natural compounds that may reduce risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The carrot investigation suggests that a moderate, 14-second dose of UV-B can boost fresh, sliced carrots’ antioxidant capacity by about threefold. The dose is energy-efficient and does not significantly heat or dry the carrots. Scientists have known for at least a decade that exposing plants to UV-B may cause what’s known as “abiotic stress.”

Plants respond to abiotic stress by revving up their production of two natural enzymes, polyphenylalanine ammonia-lyase and chalcone synthase. As production of those enzymes increases, levels of phenolics, compounds synthesized by the enzymes, also increase. Some phenolics are antioxidants.

Starbucks to Offer New Juice Brand Tall carrot juice, please, and a venti cranberry. The king of coffee has acquired Evolution Fresh Inc. in a move to offer a new brand of juice products at Starbucks chains. The acquisition is part of a broad strategy to focus on wellness. The company plans to “reinvent” the $1.6 billion juice segment in response to consumer demand for healthier options. “The acquisition of Evolution Fresh supports our growth strategy to innovate with new products, enter new categories, and expand into new channels of distribution,” said Jeff Hansberry, president of channel development for Starbucks.

Read it at LA Times November 10, 2011 4:41 PM

Ukraine becomes the biggest producer of carrots in Europe - According to Fruit-Inform, in 2011, Ukraine became the biggest producer of carrots in Europe, having for the first time ever outstripped Poland, a traditional leader in carrot production, notwithstanding an increase of harvested volumes in this country. Moreover, Ukrainian farmers harvested more carrots than producers from Great Britain, the second biggest producer in Europe. In such a way, only 4 countries of the world - China, USA, Russia and Uzbekistan - produce more carrots than Ukraine. Read more

The power of suggestion works on the school lunch tray.

A study published in the February 2012 online issue of the Journal of American Medical Association showed that elementary school students who had a school lunch tray with pictures of vegetables in the compartments where food is served tended to take and eat more vegetables.

The study looked at the number of elementary school kids who took green beans and carrots and consumed them when photos of the vegetables were on their lunch trays, according to a news release from the Hockessin, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation.

The study found that putting the photos on lunch trays increased the amount of green beans consumed from 1.2 grams to 2.8 grams. An even bigger increase was noted for carrots, according to the study, with a jump from 3.6 grams to 10 grams.

What’s more, the study found that more children took green beans at lunch because of the photos, from 6.3% to 14.8%; the number of students taking carrots rose from 11.6% to 36.8%. 

First “Farm”aceuticals Grown in Carrots The United States Food and Drug Administration recently approved Elelyso, the first drug to be grown in genetically modified plant cells. Produced in carrot cells, this drug helps to treat the symptoms of Gaucher disease, a genetic disorder that causes bruising, anemia and low blood platelets.

Israeli scientists were able to insert a gene that codes for a human enzyme into carrot cells, causing the cells to produce the same protein that Gaucher patients lack. This new method should help prevent drug shortages that have affected Gaucher sufferers in the past, as well as being cheaper and less prone to infection than animal cells. Soon mothers may be telling their children to eat carrots, not just for better eyesight, but for better health across the board. Read more here.

2012 Champion - "Romance" variety voted best tasting carrot 2012 at UK event

In early October 2012, Nunhems variety Romance was awarded the “Best Tasting Carrot 2012” at the yearly field day of the British Carrot Grower Association. The event was hosted by Guy Poskitt, a 500 hectare carrot grower/packer in Kellington, United Kingdom, and counted with the presence of growers, supermarket representatives and other members of the carrot industry.

Next to knowledge sharing and demonstrations of the latest industry developments, the event featured a voting contest for the ‘best tasting carrot’. Visitors could choose from a total of 14 varieties from various carrot seed companies. A bottle of 12 year old single malt whiskey was the prize, won by Robert Oostveen, and his team for the variety "Romance" .

Local carrots used to make beer in Colorado - read more.

Do organic carrots beat conventional vegetables for immune system-support? - Organic produce is no healthier or nutritious, finds review. Organically grown carrots may stimulate the immune system, with ‘more’ organic carrots have more of an effect, says a new study that adds to the debate on the health benefits of organic produce. Read more.

Carrots help fight prostrate cancer (April 2013)- CARROTS are latest weapon in the war against prostate cancer, according to groundbreaking new research published by scientists in York (UK). Professor Norman Maitland and his team at the University of York say a diet rich in vitamin A could be the key to beating prostate cancer because it makes the disease far more treatable. The researchers have discovered that retenoic acid, a chemical made from vitamin A, can reduce the ability of the cancer to invade surrounding tissue. Prof Maitland said: “If the cancer is confined to the prostate it’s much much more treatable with conventional medicine. This is about prevention rather than cure but it can stop the spread of the cancer.

  “We have found that specific twin genes are turned off in malignant prostate cancer stem cells. When we turn them back on using retinoic acid, the cancer becomes less aggressive.” He said: “It has been known for many years that low vitamin A in samples of men’s blood is associated with prostate cancer, but nobody knew the mechanisms involved. This is an exciting new development which links an element from our diet to prostate cancer stem cells. ”Vitamin A can be found in foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes and leafy green vegetables such as kale. Products produced from liver, such as paté, are also high in vitamin A.

The latest research published by the team in the Yorkshire Cancer Research Unit, is the second recent breakthrough in understanding prostate cancer. The researchers also gained international recognition in 2005 when they became the first to identify prostate cancer stem cells, believed to be the root cause of prostate cancer. More than 10,000 men die annually in the UK from prostate cancer, and almost 41,000 men are diagnosed with the disease each year.

Jam of colored carrots: method to preserve quality of raw material

A paper published in the international journal "LWT - Food Science and Technology" shows how to preserve the nutritional properties of carrots using jam.

Carrots, especially the purple ones, can be considered a healthy food due to their high content of phytochemical compounds. However, for some pigmented carrots with interesting sensory characteristics, the higher respiratory activity than common orange carrots reduces shelf-life.

Therefore, the seasonality and thecolored jam preserves carrot perishability of the vegetable, suggest the application of a food technology in order to obtain a more stable product over time. Among the possible processing methods, the jam making is a good alternative. In fact, according to the EC Directive 113/2001, the carrots are considered fruits, so they can be processed and marketed as "jam".

Note how the color of jams obtained by the mild method is more similar to the color of raw carrots than jams from common method. This aspect is particularly evident for the purple carrots: the "mild" method preserves the bright color of the raw material, while the common method causes jam browning due to the long cooking time.

Researchers from the Institute of Sciences of Food Production - National Research Council of Bari (Italy) and the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Science - University of Bari "Aldo Moro" (Italy) have developed a method to obtain jams from the colored carrots, preserving the sensorial and nutritional characteristics of the raw samples.

In the experiment, two different jam making methods, which differed essentially for cooking times, were compared. In one case (common method) the carrot is subjected to a preliminary pre-cooking for obtaining the puree, before the final cooking. Alternatively, the innovative method ("mild") developed by the researchers consists essentially of the preparation of an uncooked puree, followed by 5 minutes of total cooking.

The research showed that, jams obtained by the mild method were better appreciated, especially the purple type, from the sensory point of view. In addition, this "mild" method preserved the color, antioxidant activity and total phenols content of jams at values similar to the raw material.

Source: Renna M., Pace B., Cefola M., Santamaria P., Serio F., Gonnella M., 2013. "Comparison of two jam making methods to preserve the quality of colored carrots". LWT – Food Science and Technology, DOI: 10.1016/j.lwt.2013.03.018

Contacts: Dr. Massimiliano Renna Ph.D. National Research Cuncil (CNR) Institute of Science of Food Production (ISPA) Via G. Amendola, 122/O 70126 Bari (ITALY) Ph.: (+39) 080 5929306 Fax: (+39) 080 5929374 Email: massimiliano.renna@ispa.cnr.it


Carrot compound may ward off cancer, heart disease

Scientists have developed a new technology that uses grated carrot to obtain natural compounds which they claim have the potential to prevent cancer, flu, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative conditions.

Researchers from the FEMSA Center of Biotechnology at Technologic of Monterrey (ITESM) designed the technique, which also allows them to obtain shikimic acid - a substance which is a raw material used to produce antiviral drugs for influenza. READ MORE




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