Carrots are one of the most popular and nutritious vegetables, and most people know the beautiful orange variety. However, did you know that there is a lesser-known and very healthy type of carrot called the purple carrot? In this article, we will explore 5 hidden health benefits of purple carrots as well as its history and nutritional value.
Purple carrots have been cultivated for thousands of years and have recently regained popularity due to their unique colour and health benefits. Purple carrots have a slightly different taste and texture than orange carrots. They taste better and have a sweeter texture when cooked. However, their taste and appearance may vary depending on the variety and method of preparation.
History of Purple Carrots
Carrots have been cultivated for over 5,000 years and are native to Afghanistan. The first carrot was not orange, but purple or yellow. It was in the 16th century that orange carrots were planted, which was done in the Netherlands as a tribute to the Dutch royal family. Since then, orange carrots have become the most common variety in the world. However, purple carrots persist in some regions, such as Afghanistan, India, and Iran.
Nutritional Value of Purple Carrots
Purple carrots get their distinct colour from their high levels of anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. In fact, they contain 28 times more anthocyanins than orange carrots. These antioxidants are known to reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease, and may prevent cancer.
In addition to anthocyanins, purple carrots are also a good source of other important nutrients. They are low in calories and high in fibre, making them a great food for weight management.
They also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. Vitamin A is essential for health, while vitamin C boosts the immune system and promotes healthy skin. Potassium is important for heart health and helps control blood pressure, while calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth.
A single cup of chopped purple carrots (about 122 grams) contains:
- 52 calories
- 12 grams of carbs
- 3 grams of fibre
- 1 gram of protein
- 0 grams of fat
- 340% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A
- 15% DV of vitamin C
- 10% DV of potassium
- 6% DV of calcium
- 6% DV of iron
10 Hidden Health Benefits of Purple Carrots
The health benefits of purple carrots are impressive and should not be ignored. Adding purple carrots to your diet can help improve your overall health and well-being.
- Brain Health
The anthocyanins in purple carrots have been shown to improve cognitive function and memory. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that eating purple carrots improves memory and reduces oxidative stress in the brain.
- Anti-Aging Properties
Purple carrots contain antioxidants that can help protect against premature aging. Anthocyanins, in particular, have been shown to have anti-aging properties by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
- Improves Vision
Purple carrots are a good source of vitamin A, which is important for healthy vision. Vitamin A helps maintain retina health and can help prevent age-related macular degeneration.
- Anti-Diabetic Properties
Anthocyanins found in purple carrots may have anti-diabetic properties. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that eating purple carrots reduced blood sugar levels in diabetic rats.
- Skin Health
Purple carrots contain vitamin C, which is important for healthy skin. Vitamin C also helps promote collagen production, which in turn helps reduce wrinkles and improve skin elasticity.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Anthocyanins in purple carrots have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce chronic inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Boosts Immune System
Purple carrots contain vitamin C, an essential nutrient that supports the immune system. A strong immune system is necessary to fight off infections and diseases, making purple carrots an important food for overall health.
- Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Anthocyanins found in purple carrots may also help reduce the risk of heart disease. They can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve blood vessel function, all of which contribute to a healthy heart.
- Supports Digestive Health
Purple carrots are an excellent source of fibre, which promotes healthy digestion. Fibre helps move food through the digestive system, prevents constipation, and reduces the risk of colon cancer.
- Potential Cancer Prevention
The antioxidants in purple carrots may have anti-cancer properties. The anthocyanins found in purple carrots have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (the process of programmed cell death).
Cooking with Purple Carrots
Purple carrots are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. They can be eaten raw, boiled/steamed, baked, or roasted. When cooked, their colour fades, but they retain their nutritional value.
An easy way to prepare purple carrots is to roast them with olive oil and spices. Another delicious option is to chop them up and add them to salads or coleslaw for added colour to the meal.
In addition to their culinary uses, purple carrots are also used for healing and traditional medicine. They are used to treat digestive problems, inflammation, and even promote healthy skin.
Purple carrots may not be as well-known as their orange counterpart, but they offer many incredible health benefits. Their high levels of anthocyanins, fibre and other nutrients make them an excellent addition to any diet. Purple carrots can be enjoyed in a variety of ways and add a delicious nutritional touch to any meal.