Purple carrots date back to 2,000 B.C. and were specially bred to have a rich vibrant color. They have a sweeter taste than regular orange carrots and make a colorful addition to any plate. Purple carrots aren't just colorful, they're also loaded with beneficial antioxidants and nutrients. Often, you can find them at farmer's markets or on special order from your local grocer.
The purple pigment in these specialty carrots comed from an antioxidant compound called anthocyanin. Antioxidants fight off free radicals in your body, which can permanently damage cells and cause chronic illness such as cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol. Adding anthocyanin to your diet can help lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol, while also protecting your nervous system, particularly your brain, which is susceptible to oxidative damage.
Low in Calories
Purple carrots are naturally low in calories, so you can snack on them without feeling guilty. A 1-cup serving of raw purple carrot sticks provides a minimal 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates, according to the American Dietetic Association. Enjoying a 1-cup serving of steamed, sliced purple carrots contains 50 calories and 10 grams of carbs.
High in Fiber
Fiber is a beneficial compound that speeds up digestion and helps your body absorb essential nutrients. For a healthy diet, men need 38 grams of fiber daily and women need 25 grams. Purple carrots provide about .8 gram of fiber per 1 ounce serving of raw sticks. For example, if you eat 1/2-cup, or 4 ounces, of purple carrot sticks, you get about 3 grams of fiber. Most of the fiber in purple carrots is soluble, which absorbs water in the digestive tract, forming a gel-like substance. As it travels through the intestines, it can help lower blood cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Anthocyanins from purple carrots may help with the effects of diabetes, notes an article published in 2007 in "Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Having diabetes causes damage to blood vessels, which are made from collagen. These beneficial antioxidants neutralize enzymes that damage collagen and connective tissues. Excessive damage can lead to frequent high blood sugar levels, causing further damage to blood vessels. Anthocyanins help repair and restore collagen, making blood vessels strong and improving blood flow.
- American Dietetic Association: Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes, 2008
- Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Anthocyanins and Anthocyanin-Rich Extracts: Role in Diabetes And Eye Function
- Carrott Museum: The New Mighty Maroon/Purple Carrot
- USDA: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference; Carrots, Raw
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber