Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Are Purple Carrots Healthier? Nutrition, Benefits and Uses

Health + Wellness
Allison Achauer / Moment / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Carrots are tasty vegetables that come in a variety of colors.


Purple carrots are especially eye-catching and provide unique health benefits specific to purple fruits and vegetables.

All types of carrots are highly nutritious, but purple carrots are especially rich in powerful antioxidants known to fight inflammation and benefit certain health conditions.

This article reviews the benefits of purple carrots and gives you tips on how to add these vibrant vegetables to your diet.

History and Nutrition

Though most people envision an orange vegetable when picturing a carrot, carrots were originally purple or white.

In fact, the first evidence of carrots being used as a food crop was in the Iranian Plateau and the Persian Empire in the 10th century AD—these ancient carrots were purple and white (1).

The modern, orange carrot likely originated from a new breed of yellow carrots, which were developed as a result of a genetic mutation.

Red and purple carrots are considered Eastern varieties, while yellow, orange or white carrots are known as Western-type carrots.

The Eastern-type carrots have been largely replaced by the orange Western types that are common in today's grocery stores.

Nutrition

All carrots—independent of their color—are packed with a variety of nutrients, such as fiber, potassium, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin A and certain B vitamins (2).

Additionally, they're relatively low in calories, with 1 cup (128 grams) of raw carrots delivering just 52 calories.

What makes purple carrots nutritionally unique is their content of the antioxidants anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins belong to the polyphenol family of antioxidants and are found in purple fruits and vegetables like blackberries, grapes, purple potatoes, purple cabbage, and purple carrots (3).

Antioxidants like anthocyanins help protect your body from oxidative stress, which refers to an imbalance between reactive molecules called free radicals and antioxidants in your body.

Oxidative stress has been linked to health conditions such as cancer, mental decline, heart disease, and aging (4).

Summary

Purple carrots are loaded with nutrients like fiber and potassium. In addition, like other other purple fruits and vegetables, they contain potent antioxidants called anthocyanins, which benefit your health.

Contain Powerful Antioxidants

Anthocyanins are polyphenol antioxidants that have many impressive health benefits.

Diets high in anthocyanin-rich foods—such as purple carrots—may protect against certain health conditions, especially those related to inflammation.

Anthocyanins act as anti-inflammatory agents by reducing potentially harmful compounds like pro-inflammatory cytokines. Reducing these compounds may lower your risk of certain conditions like heart disease (5).

For example, a review of 24 studies showed that people who eat anthocyanin-rich diets had significantly improved blood flow and better blood vessel function than those who did not (6).

Poor blood flow and inadequate blood vessel function are common causes of heart disease—which is why improving these risk factors may lower your risk of certain heart conditions.

Another large study in more than 34,000 women associated eating 0.2 mg of anthocyanins per day with a significantly reduced risk of heart disease (7).

Anthocyanins have also been shown to protect against mental decline.

A review of seven studies demonstrated that certain mental outcomes—including verbal learning and memory—improved in children, adults, and older people after eating anthocyanin-rich foods (8).

Additionally, population studies suggest that an increased intake of anthocyanin-rich foods lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes (9, 10).

Aside from anthocyanins, purple carrots contain other polyphenol antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid. In fact, purple carrots provide, on average, nine times more polyphenol antioxidants than carrots of other colors (11).

Polyphenols have been shown to promote health and reduce your risk of heart disease, mental decline, and certain types of cancer (12).

Summary

Purple carrots are particularly rich in anthocyanins, which are antioxidants shown to protect against heart disease, mental decline, and diabetes.

May Have Anticancer Effects

Studies show that the potent antioxidants found in purple carrots possess cancer-fighting properties.

A 12-week study in which rats were exposed to a cancer-promoting compound found that rats fed a diet supplemented with purple carrot extract had less cancerous development than those on a normal diet (13).

Similarly, test-tube studies observe that anthocyanins may inhibit the growth and spread of breast, liver, skin, blood, and colon cancer cells (14).

A study in 923 people with colorectal cancer and in 1,846 people without cancer noted that women with high intakes of purple vegetables and fruits had a lower risk of colorectal cancer than women who ate less purple produce (15).

Other studies show similar results in both men and women (16).

Additionally, research suggests that diets high in all types of carrots may protect against breast cancer.

A review of ten studies in 141,187 women associated a high intake of all types of carrots with a 21% decreased risk of breast cancer (17).

What's more, diets high in vegetables in general—including carrots—have been linked to an overall reduced risk of cancer (18).

Summary

Eating purple carrots may reduce your risk of certain types of cancer including colon and breast cancer.

May Promote Weight Loss

Population studies demonstrate that people who eat vegetable-rich diets tend to weigh less than people who eat fewer vegetables (19).

This is because vegetables like carrots are low in calories yet highly nutritious, making them aweight-loss-friendly food.

Replacing high-calorie, processed snacks and meals with vegetable-based meals and snacks can help reduce your overall calorie intake and lead to healthy weight loss.

Purple carrots are a good source of soluble fiber, which helps reduce your appetite and food intake by increasing hormones that produce feelings of fullness like peptide YY (20)

A study in 100 women found that those who ate 1.6 cups (200 grams) of whole carrots at lunch felt significantly fuller and ate significantly less throughout the rest of the day compared to women who did not eat whole carrots (21).

What's more, a large study in more than 124,000 people associated an increased intake of anthocyanin-rich foods, such as purple carrots, with greater weight loss in both men and women (22).

Summary

Purple carrots are highly nutritious and low in calories. Replacing high-calorie, processed foods with more vegetable-based dishes may help you lose weight.

May Benefit Certain Medical Conditions

Research indicates that purple carrots may benefit certain medical conditions, including metabolic syndrome and inflammatory intestinal conditions.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by a cluster of symptoms, including excess belly fat and high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality (23).

The anthocyanins found in purple carrots may help lower cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar—two symptoms of metabolic syndrome (24).

Animal studies show that purple carrots may improve other symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome as well.

A study in rats with metabolic syndrome found that a diet high in purple carrot juice improved or reversed all metabolic-disease-related symptoms, including fatty liver, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and heart muscle stiffness (25).

Another 8-week study noted that rats with metabolic syndrome on a high-fat diet supplemented with purple carrots experienced greater improvements in blood pressure and insulin resistance than rats in the control group (26).

Although these results are promising, more human studies on the effects of purple carrots on metabolic syndrome are needed.

Colitis and Inflammatory Intestinal Conditions

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is defined as chronic inflammation in all or part of the digestive tract.

Test-tube and animal studies show that purple carrots may benefit certain inflammatory bowel conditions, such as ulcerative colitis.

One study demonstrated that mice with colitis fed purple carrot powder had reduced blood levels of pro-inflammatory proteins, such as tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6, compared to other treatments (27).

A test-tube study examining the effects of purple carrot extract on reducing intestinal cell inflammation had similar results (28).

The researchers in these studies concluded that the anti-inflammatory properties of purple carrots were likely due to their powerful anthocyanin antioxidant content.

Summary

Animal and test-tube studies show that purple carrots may be effective at reducing symptoms of metabolic disease and improving inflammation related to IBD.

Easy to Add to Your Diet

Purple carrots are not only nutritious but also versatile and tasty vegetables that can be used in a variety of dishes.

They're similar in taste to other carrot varieties and can be used in the same ways.

Here are some ways to add purple carrots to your diet:

  • Chop, grate, or shave and add to salads.
  • Roast — whole or sliced — with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook and add to homemade hummus.
  • Grate and add to baked goods.
  • Slice and serve with a tasty dip.
  • Add to juices and smoothies.
  • Dehydrate slices and enjoy as a healthy alternative to potato chips.
  • Dice and add to stir-fries and other dishes.
  • Spiralize and toss with pesto.
  • Grate and toss with olive oil and fresh herbs to make a slaw.
  • Add to soups, stews, and broths.
  • Steam and coat with a flavorful spice mix like harissa.

Summary

There are many ways to enjoy purple carrots. They can be baked, added to smoothies, or enjoyed raw.

The Bottom Line

Purple carrots contain an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds that may benefit your health in many ways.

Though all types of carrots are nutritious and healthy, purple carrots contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins that have impressive effects on your health.

Eating purple carrots may improve heart health, encourage weight loss, and reduce inflammation and your risk of certain cancers.

These brightly colored veggies not only pack powerful health benefits but can also add color and flavor to many of your favorite dishes.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Supporters cheer before Trump arrives for a rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

On Monday and Tuesday of the week that President Donald Trump held his first rally since March in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the county reported 76 and 96 new coronavirus cases respectively, according to POLITICO. This week, the county broke its new case record Monday with 261 cases and reported a further 206 cases on Tuesday. Now, Tulsa's top public health official thinks the rally and counterprotest "likely contributed" to the surge.

Read More Show Less
In the tropics, farmers often slash and burn forests to clear fertile land for crops, but a new method avoids that technique. Inga Foundation video

Rainforests are an important defense against climate change because they absorb carbon. But many are being destroyed on a massive scale.

Read More Show Less
A truck spreads lime on a meadow to increase the soil's fertility in Yorkshire Dales, UK. Farm Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As we look for advanced technology to replace our dependence on fossil fuels and to rid the oceans of plastic, one solution to the climate crisis might simply be found in rocks. New research found that dispersing rock dust over farmland could suck billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year, according to the first detailed large scale analysis of the technique, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Global heating imposes a harsh cost at the most critical time of all: the moment of spawning. Pxfuel

By Tim Radford

German scientists now know why so many fish are so vulnerable to ever-warming oceans. Global heating imposes a harsh cost at the most critical time of all: the moment of spawning.

Read More Show Less
Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Niq Steele / Getty Images

By Sherry H-Y. Chou, Aarti Sarwal and Neha S. Dangayach

The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.

When a neurologist examined him, Tom was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes abnormal sensation and weakness due to delays in sending signals through the nerves. Usually reversible, in severe cases it can cause prolonged paralysis involving breathing muscles, require ventilator support and sometimes leave permanent neurological deficits. Early recognition by expert neurologists is key to proper treatment.

We are neurologists specializing in intensive care and leading studies related to neurological complications from COVID-19. Given the occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in prior pandemics with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS, we are investigating a possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19 and tracking published reports to see if there is any link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19.

Some patients may not seek timely medical care for neurological symptoms like prolonged headache, vision loss and new muscle weakness due to fear of getting exposed to virus in the emergency setting. People need to know that medical facilities have taken full precautions to protect patients. Seeking timely medical evaluation for neurological symptoms can help treat many of these diseases.

What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.

Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.

To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.

Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.

The majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients improve within a few weeks and eventually can make a full recovery. However, some patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome have lingering symptoms including weakness and abnormal sensations in arms and/or legs; rarely patients may be bedridden or disabled long-term.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Pandemics

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other coronaviruses.

Studies showed an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases following the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, suggesting a possible connection. The presumed cause for this link is that the body's own immune response to fight the infection turns on itself and attacks the peripheral nerves. This is called an "autoimmune" condition. When a pandemic affects as many people as our current COVID-19 crisis, even a rare complication can become a significant public health problem. That is especially true for one that causes neurological dysfunction where the recovery takes a long time and may be incomplete.

The first reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in COVID-19 pandemic originated from Italy, Spain and China, where the pandemic surged before the U.S. crisis.

Though there is clear clinical suspicion that COVID-19 can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, many important questions remain. What are the chances that someone gets Guillain-Barre Syndrome during or following a COVID-19 infection? Does Guillain-Barre Syndrome happen more often in those who have been infected with COVID-19 compared to other types of infections, such as the flu?

The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.

Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

While large research studies are underway, overall it appears that Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious phenomenon possibly linked to COVID-19. Given that more than 10.7 million cases have been reported for COVID-19, there have been 10 reported cases of COVID-19 patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far – only two reported cases in the U.S., five in Italy, two cases in Iran and one from Wuhan, China.

It is certainly possible that there are other cases that have not been reported. The Global Consortium Study of Neurological Dysfunctions in COVID-19 is actively underway to find out how often neurological problems like Guillain-Barre Syndrome is seen in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Also, just because Guillain-Barre Syndrome occurs in a patient diagnosed with COVID-19, that does not imply that it was caused by the virus; this still may be a coincident occurrence. More research is needed to understand how the two events are related.

Due to the pandemic and infection-containment considerations, diagnostic tests, such as a nerve conduction study that used to be routine for patients with suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are more difficult to do. In both U.S. cases, the initial diagnosis and treatment were all based on clinical examination by a neurological experts rather than any tests. Both patients survived but with significant residual weakness at the time these case reports came out, but that is not uncommon for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients. The road to recovery may sometimes be long, but many patients can make a full recovery with time.

Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.

Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.

Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.

Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.


Nurses wear PPE prior to caring for a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Sharp Grossmont Hospital on May 5, 2020 in La Mesa, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

One of the initial reasons social distancing guidelines were put in place was to allow the healthcare system to adapt to a surge in patients since there was a critical shortage of beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment. In fact, masks that were designed for single-use were reused for an entire week in some hospitals.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders greet each other with a safe elbow bump before the start of the Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Unity Task Forces formed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled sweeping party platform recommendations Wednesday that—while falling short of progressive ambitions in a number of areas, from climate to healthcare—were applauded as important steps toward a bold and just policy agenda that matches the severity of the moment.

"We've moved the needle a lot, especially on environmental justice and upping Biden's ambition," said Sunrise Movement co-founder and executive director Varshini Prakash, a member of the Biden-Sanders Climate Task Force. "But there's still more work to do to push Democrats to act at the scale of the climate crisis."

The climate panel—co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Secretary of State John Kerry—recommended that the Democratic Party commit to "eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035," massively expanding investments in clean energy sources, and "achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030."

In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force "shaved 15 years off Biden's previous target for 100% clean energy."

"Of course, like in any collaborative effort, there are areas of negotiation and compromise," said the New York Democrat. "But I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully and substantively improved Biden's positions."

 

The 110 pages of policy recommendations from the six eight-person Unity Task Forces on education, the economy, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and healthcare are aimed at shaping negotiations over the 2020 Democratic platform at the party's convention next month.

Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."

"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."

Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."

"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.

On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.

Instead, the panel recommended building on the Affordable Care Act by establishing a public option, investing in community health centers, and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. The task force also endorsed making all Covid-19 testing, treatments, and potential vaccines free and expanding Medicaid for the duration of the pandemic.

"It has always been a crisis that tens of millions of Americans have no or inadequate health insurance—but in a pandemic, it's potentially catastrophic for public health," the task force wrote.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Sanders-appointed member of the Healthcare Task Force, said that despite major disagreements, the panel "came to recommendations that will yield one of the most progressive Democratic campaign platforms in history—though we have further yet to go."

 

Observers and advocacy groups also applauded the Unity Task Forces for recommending the creation of a postal banking system, endorsing a ban on for-profit charter schools, ending the use of private prisons, and imposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations "while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP."

Marisa Franco, director of immigrant rights group Mijente, said in a statement that "going into these task force negotiations, we knew we were going to have to push Biden past his comfort zone, both to reconcile with past offenses and to carve a new path forward."

"That is exactly what we did, unapologetically," said Franco, a member of the Immigration Task Force. "For years, Mijente, along with the broader immigrant rights movement, has fought to reshape the narrative around immigration towards racial justice and to focus these very demands. We expect Biden and the Democratic Party to implement them in their entirety."

"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.