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Carrots! Colorful and Healthy!

Carrots Were White?

Did you know five hundred years ago most carrots were white? That’s what I said; white! It was said that carrots were first cultivated in Afghanistan in the 7th century, and they started with yellow flesh and a purple exterior. Purple, red, black, yellow and white; these were the colors that carrots started out with; not orange

About 300 years ago, it was the Dutch growers who first created the orange version of the carrot by taking red and yellow carrot seeds from North Africa to develop the orange variety into a stable and reliable plant for domestication to create the orange root; quadrupling the vegetable’s beta carotene, which the human body converts to vitamin A.

The first carrots weren't even cultivated as a food crop; they were grown as medicine because they were considered very good for both the hair as well as the eyes and contains vitamin A. That’s why I can’t help but sing the praises of colorful carrots. Yes, colorful carrots! Continue to read on and discover the health benefits of eating colorful carrots.

Carrots are such a popular vegetable that you probably have some chilling in your refrigerator right now. There are strong links between the color of carrots and their nutritional content. Adding carrots to your diet can reduce the risk of other weight related illnesses that include stroke, diabetes and heart disease.

So what is so special about the different colorful carrots?

Purple carrots (usually yellowish/orange inside) get their pigment from an entirely different class, the anthocyanins. These pigments act as very powerful antioxidants, grabbing and holding onto harmful free radicals in the body. Anthocyanins also help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting.

Red carrots contain lycopene (another form of carotene), a pigment also found in tomatoes and watermelon; lycopene helps in the fight against heart disease and some cancers, including prostate cancer.

Black carrots have anthocyanins, part of the flavonoid family with antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are currently under investigation as anticancer compounds, as free radical scavengers in living systems and acts as an inhibitor of bad cholesterol (LDL). It has many anti-bacterial properties and anti-fungicidal properties. Oil made from its seed can help control scalp itchiness and provides essential nutrients for hair growth.

Yellow carrots contain xanthophylls, pigments similar to orange beta carotene, which help develop healthy eyes and aid in the fight against macular degeneration. They may also be useful in preventing tumors associated with lung and other cancers.

White carrots, by their very nature, lack pigment, but may contain other health-promoting substances called phytochemicals. Other compounds like phytochemicals in these carrots reduce the risk of cancer and stroke and the dietary fiber in white carrots also may fight against colon cancer.

Orange carrots contain beta carotene, with some alpha-carotene, both of which are orange pigments. The body converts the high content beta carotene into Vitamin A, essential to the immune system for general well-being and healthy eyes.

Carrots are very versatile and add color to any meal. So the next time you are out shopping at your local farmer’s market or at your local farmer’s garden, try a colorful bunch of carrots to add color to your meal and give yourself a colorful boost of health-giving properties.

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