The Healing Power of the Purple Carrot

October 2, 2008

purple carrots Purple carrots were grown wild 5,000 years ago in the area now known as Afghanistan. Carrots only became orange in the 1500’s when patriotic Dutch growers developed a carrot in an attempt to nationalize the country’s favorite vegetable.

We all know about the numerous health benefits of carrots (Daucus carota L.), they are an excellent source of vitamin A, and contain phytochemicals including carotenoids, phenolics, polyacetylenes, isocoumarins, and sesquiterpenes.

Phytochemicals are plant chemicals that have antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and other disease preventive and health enhancing properties.

Not only do purple carrots contain all of the phytochemicals found in orange carrots, they also contain anthocyanins, potent antioxidants. Anthocyanins are responsible for the bright red, blue and purple colors of fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanins are abundant in berries, especially the blueberry, which has exceptionally high antioxidant activity.
purple carrots

Anthocyanins are the major antioxidants in purple-yellow and purple-orange carrots, and purple-yellow carrots have the highest antioxidant capacity, followed by purple-orange carrots. Chlorogenic acid is the most predominant antioxidant in all carrot varieties. Chlorogenic acid is likely responsible for the reduction in diabetes risk that is associated with coffee consumption.

In recent years several studies have shown that anthocyanins display a wide range of biological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic activities. In addition they display a variety of effects on blood vessels, platelets and lipoproteins able to reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases.

 The body seems to have limited ability to absorb large amounts of anthocyanin, which indicates that smaller frequent servings may be more beneficial than a single large serving of this superfood.

Carrots are easy to grow, and purple carrot seeds are available online from Amazon

1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Wang LS, Stoner GD. Anthocyanins and their role in cancer prevention. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):281-90. Epub 2008 Jun 20. PMID: 18571839.
5. Jing P, Bomser JA, Schwartz SJ, He J, Magnuson BA, Giusti MM. Structure-Function Relationships of Anthocyanins from Various Anthocyanin-Rich Extracts on the Inhibition of Colon Cancer Cell Growth. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep 19. PMID: 18800807.
6. Metzger BT, Barnes DM, Reed JD. Purple carrot (Daucus carota L.) polyacetylenes decrease lipopolysaccharide-induced expression of inflammatory proteins in macrophage and endothelial cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 May 28;56(10):3554-60. Epub 2008 Apr 24. PMID: 18433135.
7. Kurilich, A.C., Clevidence, B.A., Britz, S.J., Simon, P.W., Novotny Dura, J. 2005. Plasma and urine responses are lower for acylated vs nonacylated anthocyanins from raw and cooked purple carrot. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 53:6537-6542.
8. Mazza GJ. Anthocyanins and heart health. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2007;43(4):369-74. PMID: 182092709.
9. Image by MooBob and used under the Creative Commons License.
10.McCarty MF. Nutraceutical resources for diabetes prevention–an update. Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(1):151-8. PMID: 15533633
11. Alasalvar C, et al. Comparison of volatiles, phenolics, sugars, antioxidant vitamins, and sensory quality of different colored carrot varieties. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Mar;49(3):1410-6. PMID: 11312873
12.  Sun T, Simon PW, Tanumihardjo SA. Antioxidant Phytochemicals and Antioxidant Capacity of Biofortified Carrots ( Daucus carota L.) of Various Colors. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Apr 9. PMID: 19358535

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  1. Pingback: Purple Carrots: Going Back To Their Roots « Liberation Wellness

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