Carrots don't only come in orange, but in a range of colors, including black. Black carrot extract benefits your health in a number of ways, thanks to the nutrients in the vegetable. Consult your health care provider about using black carrot extract or eating black carrots to treat a medical problem.
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About Black Carrots
Black carrot extract is derived from carrots with purple or black flesh. The World Carrot Museum theorizes that these types of carrots are Middle Eastern in origin, and may have first appeared in Turkey or Syria. While you can find black carrots in the United States -- most often at farmer's markets or shops that sell specialty produce -- they are more common in Egypt, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Turkey.
Black Carrot Extract and Anthocyanins
The nutrients in black carrot extract that give it color are anthocyanins. A study published in the April 2011 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" investigated the anthocyanin composition of four varieties of black carrots -- Antonina, Beta Sweet, Deep Purple and Purple Haze -- and found a range of anthocyanin levels, from 1.5 milligrams per 100 grams up to 97.9 milligrams per 100 grams, depending on the type of anthocyanin.
Benefits of Anthocyanins
The anthocyanins in black carrot extract provide many health benefits, several from its antioxidant properties. Research in the March 2011 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" notes a correlation between anthocyanins and the potential for treating neurological dysfunctions such as Alzheimer's disease. Anthocyanins may also be useful in cancer treatment -- evidence published in the May 2011 "Molecular Nutrition and Food Research" journal indicates that anthocyanins may counteract toxins that can damage healthy cells during chemotherapy.
Extracts from black carrots are most often used as a natural food coloring. The extract's color is similar to that of grape skin extract -- red-blue or magenta. Food manufacturers may prefer black carrot extract to grape juice concentrate or grape skin extract because it is kosher and the color from black carrot extract retains its color better. The reddish color of black carrot extract is a natural alternative to synthetic food colorings such as FD&C Red 40, or a coloring made of insects, called carmine.