The carrot belongs to the Umbelliferae family, and is recognisable by its feathery leaves as a relative of parsley, dill, fennel and celery.
Vitamin A is derived from beta-carotene and carrots are a major source of this substance. Carotenoids, the group of plant pigments of which beta-carotene is a member, are so named because they were first identified in carrots. This ever-popular vegetable is also a source of disease-fighting flavonoids, and carrots contain a specific type of fibre, called calcium pectate, which may lower blood cholesterol.
In earlier times, carrots were small red, yellow, or purple roots; the elongated orange carrot, forerunner of today's familiar vegetable, was probably developed in the seventeenth century in Holland.
Use in salads, soups, casseroles, stir-fries, cakes, muffins and raw with dips.