Carrot Greens: A Commonly Overlooked Leafy Green

Carrots originated in the region that is now Iran and Afghanistan. Early evidence suggests that the carrot’s use as a food goes back as far as 3000 BCE. Over its long history, this root vegetable has been cultivated to grow bigger and taste better than its ancestors. Early carrots came in multiple colors including white and purple.

Carrots were used in Ancient Egypt. Archaeologists have found them in the tombs of the pharaohs. They were consumed both as food and as medicine. The carrots used by the Egyptians were mostly the purple variety.

Carrots would make their way to Ancient Greece and Rome where they developed a reputation as an aphrodisiac and medicine. Dioscorides claimed that Greeks treated cancer with carrot leaves.

By the 1400s, carrots had moved to Asia and reached Japan. At around that time, the French and the Germans began cultivating it in gardens and farms. Cultivated because of its nutritional value, carrots spread to other parts of Europe. European settlers in the United States cultivated carrots in Jamestown, Virginia.

Carrot Greens

Early mentions of carrot greens as food point to it being a low-calorie food. Early in the 20th century, carrot greens were promoted as a food for those who want to lose weight. They were placed in the same category as turnip greens, Swiss chard, and watercress. During World War 2, the British government promoted carrot greens as a food.

Carrot greens flavor profile

Carrot greens can be somewhat bitter due to their mineral content but are still palatable.

Health benefits of carrot greens

The health benefits that you get from carrot greens come from its nutrients, which include:

  • Vitamins: Carrot greens are like many other leafy greens in that they are rich in vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Minerals: Carrot greens are good sources of important minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

Carrot greens are useful for treating and preventing health problems like:

High blood pressure

The potassium and magnesium in carrot greens are important for controlling blood pressure.

  • Infections: The high vitamin C content in carrot greens makes them great for strengthening the immune system to fight against infections.
  • Osteoporosis: Carrot greens contain minerals like calcium and magnesium that are important for bone strength and reversing the loss of bone density, including calcium. The vitamin K in carrot greens is important for bone health as well.
  • Kidney problems: Carrot greens are diuretics, which means that they stimulate your kidneys’ filtering process and speed up the rate at which they filter your blood.

Health concerns

Carrot greens have a reputation for being toxic though there is not much science to back it up. They do contain compounds — alkaloids and nitrates — that can trigger sensitivities in some people, there is no evidence of them being toxic when consumed in moderation.

That said, there are reports of people getting sick after eating carrot greens. Whether this resulted from an allergy or an actual toxic reaction is unknown, however. Also, you should exercise caution when preparing the greens from non-organic carrots since these may be contaminated by pesticide residue.

Common uses

Carrot greens may be used like other leafy greens in salads and as a garnish. You can add it to coleslaws as well. It may be used in pesto to enhance the green from basil and one of its most common applications is in soups. It works just as well as its relative parsley for making a chimichurri sauce or tabbouleh.