While many people have never heard of – or eaten – a purple carrot, they are deliciously sweet additions to many different meals. The taste of the purple carrots is not the only reason to eat them because they are also packed with a good amount of nutrients and health benefits!
What is a Purple Carrot?
A purple carrot is a color variant of traditional carrots, which bear the scientific name Daucus carota subsp. sativus. While most people in the US and UK are familiar only with orange carrots, purple carrots are far more commonly found in the East, particularly in China and India. However, they were first cultivated more than 1,000 years ago in the region of Afghanistan, and they spread from there. What many people don’t realize is that purple carrots were actually the original form of these globally popular vegetables. Paler colors only originated later, once the carrots were grown in different regions. These uniquely colored carrots are high in anthocyanin, which gives them their characteristic color and a surprisingly sweet taste.
The larger the carrots, the larger the central core, where most of the nutrients are stored, which results in more sweetness. Although the exterior of these carrots may be purple, the center is often yellow or orange. Purple carrots can be used in the same ways as any other carrots – in soups, stews, salads, sandwiches, stir-frys, and as a raw snack. While they aren’t as readily available in the US and UK as they are in Asia, they can easily be found in specialty grocery stores and import stores.
Purple Carrot Nutrition
Purple carrots have a similar nutrient profile to other types of carrots, with a few important distinctions. These carrots are a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and vitamin K. There is a low level of calories – only 25 calories per cup – and only 5 grams of carbohydrates. When it comes to antioxidants, however, purple carrots have a good lutein and beta-carotene content. Purple carrots also contain more phenolic compounds, such as anthocyanins, than any other carrot variety, except for black carrots.
Purple Carrot Health Benefits
The most impressive health benefits of purple carrots include its effects on weight loss, chronic disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory conditions, vision, and circulation, among others.
Purple carrots are particularly prized for their place in a weight-loss diet. This low-calorie, low-fat, and high-fiber vegetable is an excellent way to fill yourself up without compromising your dietary goals. Furthermore, digesting all of that fiber can help to speed up your metabolism, which can help with passive fat-burning if you’re trying to shed pounds.
Although carrots should be consumed in moderation by anyone suffering from diabetes – due to the elevating effect it can have on blood sugar – the moderate consumption of these carrots is a good thing. The fiber can help to regulate the release of glucose and insulin into the body, which helps to prevent the sharp spikes and drops in blood sugar.
With high levels of dietary fiber and antioxidants that can help protect the integrity of the cardiovascular system, purple carrots are great for heart health. The fiber can help to lower overall cholesterol levels, which will lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as cardiovascular diseases. The vitamin C in these carrots is also critical for the strength of artery and blood vessel walls.
Research has shown that anthocyanins, which are found in high concentrations in purple carrots, can help relieve many different inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, gout, headaches, and even hemorrhoids.
Although purple carrots contain less beta-carotene than orange and yellow varieties, there is also a significant amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in these carrots, all of which can help to improve vision. These antioxidants will reduce oxidative stress in the retina, preventing macular degeneration and lowering your risk of cataracts.
There is a decent amount of iron in purple carrots, which is great for boosting circulation, but the presence of vitamin C and other antioxidants will also help to prevent breakage and blockage within the circulatory system, ensuring that all your metabolic processes continue normally.
Treats Chronic Disease
The high level of anthocyanins found in these colored carrots mean that they are excellent antioxidants; these compounds are able to seek out and neutralize free radicals, which are responsible for cellular mutation and other forms of chronic disease, such as heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.