Have you ever heard of a black carrot? If not, in this article you will discover a variety of colors and health benefits carrots can have.
From juices, soups, fries, to cakes, carrots have been a long time favorite for their uses in many recipes. They have been especially popular this year for their use as a bacon substitute in vegan recipes. Thanks to their palatability and sweetness, carrots are well-liked in their natural form.
Wild carrots, Daucus carota, were initially grown in Afghanistan and domesticated in Asia, Africa, and Europe (source).
The carrot food crop has been around for thousands of years, dating back to the 10th century A.D in the Persian Empire and the Iranian Plateau (source).
Early carrots may have really been parsnips, so there are some uncertainties within carrot history (source).
Historically, carrots come from two groups, wild and domesticated. Wild carrots were white or pale yellow, while domesticated carrots were first yellow or purple (source). There are two subgroups of domesticated carrots. These are the Eastern and Western groups (source).
The Western group of domesticated carrots came about later on. Their roots are carotenoid-pigmented and can be yellow, white, red, or orange (source). Carotene and xanthophyll are carotenoids that give rise to the colour of these carrots (source).
The Western carrots were commercialized in the 17th century in the Mediterranean and Europe (source). Their taste, diversity in cooking, and nutrient richness made them the chosen crop over purple carrots (source).
The carrot most common to your palate today is probably a result of complex gene selection and mutation (source).
When carrots come to your mind, you probably imagine orange carrots. Though you may not see them at your local grocery store, carrots come in many colors. Rainbow carrots are bred so multiple pigments are available to consumers (source). This means numerous nutrients can be available depending on the diversity of colours. Here are the colours and nutrients found in different pigments.
Carrots are infamous for being full of alpha and beta carotene, which helps the body get Vitamin A (source). Carrots today have 75% more beta carotene than they did two decades ago (source). Beta carotene is a type of carotenoid, an antioxidant.
These carrots have no pigment; therefore, they are not a good source of antioxidants. They have fiber for healthy digestion (source).
Beta carotene and lycopene are two carotenoid pigments in red carrots. Lycopene reduces the risks of cancer and heart disease (source).
Purple carrots have high amounts of phenolic compounds called anthocyanins. You’ll read more about this below. In cooking, the purple color turns brown because of the anthocyanins (source). The pigment tends to stain both skin and cookware (source).
Black Carrot: What Is It?
Black carrot, Daucus Carota var. L. ssp. sativus var. atrorubens Alef., is a type of carrot from Turkey and the Middle East (source). Its deep, dark purple colour is indicative of a very high amount of anthocyanins.
Many antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are studied for their use as coloring agents. Black carrot extract is used as a natural alternative to synthetic food dyes (source).
If you’ve never tried a black carrot, you can expect a slightly sweet taste followed by a spicy ending (source).
Black Carrot Benefits
Antioxidants play a large role in disease protection by protecting the body from harmful free-radicals. Anthocyanins possess many health benefits as they are antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer (source). Black carrots are also crucial for maintaining healthy blood vessels and blood flow (source).
Some studies report that anthocyanins have a neuroprotective effect, making them suitable for the potential treatment of neurological disorders (source). More studies are needed here.
You can reap some of these benefits by drinking black carrot juice.
What are the Benefits of Eating Carrots?
There’s no denying that carrots are highly nutritious food. There are only 30 calories in a carrot that is seven inches long (source). Choosing low-calorie foods can help maintain a healthy weight.
Because of their role in reducing inflammation, dietary carotenoids lower cardiovascular risk factors (source).
Carrots also have small amounts of fiber, vitamins B, C, and E (source). But it doesn’t end there. Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and potassium are also found in small amounts in carrots (source). Many of these minerals are crucial to bone health.
How to Eat Carrots
Carrots are eaten in an endless amount of ways. They are enjoyed raw, juiced, roasted, steamed, stir-fried, blanched, boiled, pureed, and baked! Here are some unique ways to enjoy them as well. They can be purchased fresh, as juice, canned, frozen, dried, pre-cut and as a powder.
Cut up carrots can be dehydrated in an air fryer, oven, or a dehydrator. Dehydrating makes them last longer and creates a healthy crunchy snack.
Fermented foods should be a part of almost everyone’s diet because they help the gut flora stay healthy. Carrots are fermented by adding salted water to them, which creates an anaerobic environment (source). The salt extracts lactic acid from the carrot and thrives in the anaerobic environment, causing the carrots to be fermented (source).
Can You Eat Carrot Greens?
Though often thrown away, carrot greens or carrot tops are edible!
What Should I do with Carrot Tops?
Since carrot tops can be slightly bitter, they should be blanched if eaten (source). They work well on top of a salad. Carrot tops can be sautéed, added to smoothies, or blended into a pesto (source). They also go well in hummus recipes because they have an earthy herbal flavor. Carrot tops are described as tasting like a cross between a carrot and parsley (source).
How Long do Carrots Last in the Fridge?
For long-term storage of carrots, submerge them in water and change the water every 4-5 days (source). They will last a month if stored this way.
Black carrot is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. You can consume it in many ways, including drinking its juice. Carrots are versatile, nutritious, and last a long time when stored properly. You can even eat the whole vegetable, so there’s no waste! Add the rainbow to your diet by eating carrots in diverse colors. Give your body these disease-fighting benefits to boost your health.