If you are the grocery shopper in your home, you may have noticed the increasing presence of different coloured carrots at your local farmers’ market or in your supermarket. While the most common carrot is still the humble orange one, carrots of other hues should definitely not be overlooked. Available now are deep purple, yellow and even white varieties, which all offer varying flavours and levels of sweetness, as well as nutritional benefits.
The reason why we primarily eat orange carrots is steeped in history. As the story goes, carrots were grown as far back as the time of Ancient Egypt. By the 10th century in Afghanistan, carrots were being grown mainly in the colours of purple and yellow however a rainbow of alternative colours were also being cultivated – colours such as red, yellow and black.
The story of the orange carrot dates back to the Dutch. Around the 16th or 17th century, Dutch farmers were successful in growing the first orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange, who led the struggle for Dutch independence. Since that date, the colour orange stuck, and is now the most widely grown and eaten variety.
Despite its royal history, our carrot consumption should not be limited to the orange hue. Other coloured carrots offer a range of health benefits and can be incorporated into a balanced diet. According to Time.com, below are some of the nutritional benefits of each variety:
Orange: Beta and alpha carotene pigment. This promotes vitamin A production by the body, which is essential for healthy eyes
Purple: Anthocyanin, beta and alpha carotene pigment. Purple carrots typically have an orange core, and their pigment-related nutrients may provide additional vitamin A and prevent heart disease.
Red: Lycopene and beta-carotene pigment. Lycopene is the same red pigment that gives tomatoes their deep colour and is linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, such as prostate cancer.
Yellow: Xanthophykks and lutein. Both are linked to cancer prevention and better eye health.
White: The nutrients don’t come from the pigment but from the fibre, which promotes healthy digestion.
Next time you are shopping for veggies, pick up some rainbow carrots for a different flavour and range of nutrients.