Are Purple Carrots Healthier? Nutrition, Benefits and Uses
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.
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By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie
Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?
Triangle of Mistruths<p>The myth created around plastic recycling has been one of simplicity. We look for the familiar triangle arrows, then pop the waste in the recycling bin so it can be reused.</p><p>But the true purpose of those triangles has been misunderstood by the general public ever since their invention in the 1980s.</p><p>These triangles were actually created by the plastics industry and, according to a report provided to them in July 1993, <a href="https://www.npr.org/transcripts/912150085" target="_blank">were creating "unrealistic expectations"</a> about what could be recycled. But they decided to keep using the codes.</p><p>Which is why many people still believe that these triangular symbols (also known as a <a href="https://sustainablepackaging.org/101-resin-identification-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resin identifier code</a> or RIC) means something is recyclable.</p><p>But according to the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) – which controls the RIC system – the numbered triangles "<a href="https://www.astm.org/Standards/D7611.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are not recycle codes</a>." In fact, they weren't created for the general public at all. They were made for the post-consumer plastic industry.</p><p>In other words, the symbols make it easier to sort the different types of plastics, some of which cannot be recycled – <a href="https://www.ecobin.com.au/understand-recycling-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">depending on the recycling facility</a>.</p><p>"Unfortunately, just placing your plastic into the recycling bin doesn't mean it will get recycled," says Lara Camilla Pinho. She is an architect and lecturer at the UWA School of Design who is researching novel uses of plastic waste.</p><p>"The recycling system is complicated and often dictated by market demand. Not all plastic is recyclable. We cannot recycle plastic bags or straws for example."</p>
Behind the Scenes<p>So, what makes recycling plastics so difficult?</p><p>"Essentially, there are two types of plastics – thermoplastics and thermosets. While thermoplastics can be re-melted and re-molded, thermosets contain cross-linked polymers that cannot be separated meaning they cannot be recycled," says Lara.</p><p>"Even thermoplastics have a limit to the amount of times we can recycle them, as each time they are recycled they downgrade in quality."</p><p>Even when plastics are recyclable, it is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/13/war-on-plastic-waste-faces-setback-as-cost-of-recycled-material-soars" target="_blank">often more costly</a> than simply making new plastics.</p>
Sugar, Seaweed and Mushrooms<p>If the conventional recycling system isn't working, what else can we do with all the plastic we've created?</p><p>Lara is looking for ways to add value to recycled plastics such as using it in the design and development of architectural products. She hopes to use these architectural products to help underserved communities that are disproportionately affected by plastic waste.</p><p>In addition to recycling, we also need to find ways to reduce our use of virgin petroleum-based plastics.</p><p>Bioplastic is one such product that has been getting a lot of hype over the last few years. And although they're better than petroleum-based plastics, bioplastics also come with their own <a href="https://phys.org/news/2017-12-truth-bioplastics.html" target="_blank">set of challenges</a>.</p><p>"There are already a lot of bio-based alternatives to plastic, such as bagasse – a byproduct of sugar cane processing," says Lara.</p><p><a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-mycelium-revolution-is-upon-us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mycelium</a>, a type of fungi we most often associate with mushrooms, are also providing an interesting plastic alternative.</p><p>"In the field of architecture, mycelium is starting to be used as an alternative to plastic insulation, but also as compostable packaging and bricks," says Lara.</p><p>"The bricks take around five days to make and are strong, durable, water resistant and compostable at the end of their use."</p><p><a href="https://www.arup.com/news-and-events/hyfi-reinvents-the-brick" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hy-Fi Tower</a>, created by <a href="http://www.thelivingnewyork.com/living_about.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Living</a>, is an example of a building made from these bricks.</p><p>And finally, there's seaweed.</p><p>"[Seaweed is] cheap and can reproduce itself quickly without fertilizers. In architecture, there is use for seaweed as an alternative to plastic insulation but also as cladding," says Lara.</p>
More Money, More Problems<p>While all these alternatives are great, the main cause of our plastic dilemma is not scientific or technological, but economic.</p><p>As long as it remains <a href="https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/why-is-it-cheaper-to-make-new-plastic-bottles-than-to-recycle-old-ones/" target="_blank">cheaper to create new plastics</a> from fossil fuels rather than from bioplastics or from recycling, we're going to be stuck with plastic garbage islands floating in our oceans.</p><p>The true cost to our health and our environment has yet to be included in the equation. But once it is, maybe that is when the real shift will happen.</p>
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Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.
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By Zheng Chen and Darren H. S. Tan
As concern mounts over the impacts of climate change, many experts are calling for greater use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels. Powered by advancements in battery technology, the number of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on U.S. roads is increasing. And utilities are generating a growing share of their power from renewable fuels, supported by large-scale battery storage systems.