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.
By Karen L. Smith-Janssen
Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.
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"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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