heirloom varieties, Spicy Carrot Soup

Varieties - baby, heirloom, bicolored, round and more

Recipes - a tangy soup, a crunchy salad, a nutty bread

Health - why eating carrots is good for you

Beauty - carrot care for hair and skin

The Carrot Spectrum

Despite the lack of choice in supermarkets, there's a vast array of heirloom and new carrots at farmers' markets—including scarlet, golden and maroon varieties. These don't seem like such futuristic hybrids when you consider that some of the first carrots were purple and yellow, and that orange only came along in the 1600s. A few favorites: Babette, a true baby carrot, is so flavorful it will make you forget those plastic-packed carrot stubs (which are full-size carrots whittled down). Beta Sweet, with its purple skin and vivid orange interior, is especially rich in beta-carotene and also contains a second antioxidant, anthocyanin. Parisian Rondo is a round French heirloom. Kinbi, a stumpy yellow carrot, and the vivid Scarlet Wonder are both harvested in the fall. If you're a gardener, check with a local nursery to learn which types do well in your area. For seeds, contact or

The Beauty of Carrots

J. F. Lazartigue Deep Action Treatment with Carrot Oil strengthens and restores elasticity to dry or chemically damaged hair ($52 for 5.1 ounces; 800-359-9345). Lancôme AromaFit Daily Essential Body Lotion is a fast-absorbing, lightweight body cream with beta-carotene, a skin-repairing antioxidant, and a fragrance of carrot, orange and basil ($26 for 6.8 ounces; 800-526-2663). Kathleen Lewis Vitamin Bath and Body Oil contains three healing nutrients: vitamin A (known to help restore skin), vitamin C (rich in antioxidants) and soothing vitamin E— with a shot of carrot oil as a bonus ($20 for 4 ounces; 877-625-4052). Roger & Gallet Carrot Gentle Nature Soap is a mild, 100-percent vegetable soap laced with antioxidant-packed carrot extracts that both soothe and protect skin ($6 for 7 ounces; 800-H-BENDEL). Sonya Dakar Fresh Eyes Eye Makeup Remover uses carrot-seed oil, loaded with beta-carotene, to safeguard the delicate skin around the eyes while quickly melting away shadow, liner and mascara ($25 for 1 ounce; 877-727-6692).
—Jennifer Laing

Carrots & Health

The very compound that gives carrots their color, beta-carotene, is what makes them nutritious. Carrots are an extraordinary source of this antioxidant, which may help prevent heart disease and some kinds of cancer. Carrots are also an excellent source of fiber, minerals and vitamin C, and deliver some vitamin E as well. And one medium carrot provides over 5 mg of vitamin A (more than twice the recommended daily requirement), which helps maintain good eyesight, fight infection and support bone growth. Some fat helps promote the absorption of vitamin A, so don't feel guilty about using a little olive oil or butter in carrot recipes.

PUBLISHED February 2003