Embrace the vibrant revival of purple carrots
It's too bad the phrase "Taste the rainbow" is associated with a popular junk food brand. The truth is, eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables (not candy!) is one of the best and easiest ways to enhance your current and future health. And if you've ever struggled to find purple-colored produce, we are happy to introduce you to purple carrots.
Not only are purple carrots tasty, with a sweet and sometimes peppery flavor, but they also offer plenty of health benefits.
Purple carrots are rich in powerful plant compounds known to support brain, heart, and metabolic health
Purple Haze. Cosmic Purple. Black Nebula. Purple Dragon. These aren't band names; instead, they are some of the most popular varieties of purple carrots, which have been cultivated since at least the 16th century. Purple carrots used to be way more common than their now-famous orange cousins!
Of course, all kinds of carrots are a nutritious addition to your diet. However, purple carrots have the highest concentration of polyphenols compared to other carrot varieties, according to a 2021 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Foods. Why should you care? It turns out that polyphenols - a group of plant compounds that are also present in things like coffee, tea, cocoa, berries, and olives - have been shown to:
- Support brain function
- Promote healthy blood sugar levels
- Fight inflammation
- Benefit cardiovascular and digestive health
The type of polyphenol most prevalent in purple carrots is anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant. One 2022 systematic review in Applied Sciences even notes that the anthocyanin found in foods like purple carrots "may be especially productive in avoiding or delaying the onset of cardiovascular disease (CVDs), obesity, diabetes, and cancer," namely by preventing harmful metabolic and cellular changes induced by inflammation.
Of course, a high polyphenol content isn't the only benefit of purple carrots. Just like orange and yellow carrots, these purple root veggies are also rich in other wellness-boosting nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, and some B vitamins. And with a surprisingly low caloric density - one medium purple carrot only contains about 25 calories and often less sugar than orange carrots - they make an excellent addition to any weight loss or weight maintenance diet.
Pass the purple: Five ways to add purple carrots into your whole foods diet
As a culinary option, purple carrots have withstood the test of time - and as it turns out, these root vegetables can withstand frost pretty well, too! This means that purple carrots are available year-round. If your local grocery store doesn't have them, look for them at specialty food stores or your local farmer's market. If you have a green thumb, you can also try growing them in your yard. Gardening sources generally advise planting carrot seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart in light, sandy soil in a well-lit garden area.
Whether you buy or grow (or both!), the next question is: what to do with this nutritious food? Purple carrots make a great addition to many meals. Here are five ideas to inspire you:
- Enjoy raw with your favorite hummus (no need to peel, as many of the nutrients are found near the outer surface - just scrub and wash well!)
- Chop and sprinkle into salads
- Shred and mix into an omelet or stir fry for extra crunch and color
- Run them through a juicer with other fresh fruits and veggies (just be aware that you'll lose some important nutrients this way, such as fiber)
- Add to your favorite homemade carrot slaw recipe - great with pistachios, dried cherries, and some fresh herbs like thyme and tarragon
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