The black carrot and its health benefits are the shining stars of the carrot family. Daucus carota, or the carrot family, is known for its colorful varieties, ranging from white and yellow-skinned carrots to orange, purple and even black ones, all with unique nutritional and antioxidant properties. Today’s article is concerned with the properties and benefits of black carrots in particular and what makes them healthier, although we will not completely overlook the health benefits of other varieties either.
Although black carrots are an unfamiliar vegetable to Westerners, in India and China they are quite popular and easily available. Due to their generous nutritional content, they are wholeheartedly recommended for consumption. The different colors of various carrot varieties may look beautiful on a plate, but they are also indicative of a variety of antioxidant compounds which provide us with important health benefits.
Carrot colors: where do they come from?
Orange carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A and a great ally for a healthy vision. Red carrots have a phytochemical called lycopene, known for its potent antioxidant activity. Studies suggest that lycopene, also found in tomatoes and watermelon, can prevent aging of the skin and has a protective effect on the heart. Yellow carrots have a substance called xanthophyll, a yellow carotenoid pigment that can regulate systolic blood pressure. Regular consumption is believed to have important, long-term benefits on one’s health. White carrot varieties are believed to help prevent and slow down the proliferation of cancer cells. However, scientists find it difficult to pinpoint the substances actively responsible for this, mainly due to the fact that, when combined, phytochemicals found in foods have more than one health benefit.
Last but not least, purple or black carrots owe their colors to special natural pigments called anthocyanins, which are flavonoid compounds. Anthocyanins can be found in practically every dark-colored foods, notably blueberries, blackberries, plums, purple mirabelles or purple or black carrots. Anthocyanins have potent antioxidant effects and because of their amazing capacity to trap free radicals, they offer protection against a variety of chronic, life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Black carrots vs other carrot colors
White, yellow, orange, red and purple or black carrots are essentially the same vegetable. As a result, they have a similar nutritional value, meaning that the plain orange carrot has just about the same vitamins and minerals as the black carrot. Roughly the same amounts of essential nutrients means that the orange and black or purple, white, yellow and red carrot have about the same benefits too. At the same time, black carrots are considered healthier because of their special pigment.
What is believed to make black carrot and black carrot juice healthier than orange, red or yellow carrots is their pigment. The pigment responsible for the purple color is an antioxidant, an anthocyanin. The human body relies on antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress from free radicals. Oxidative stress causes inflammation and damages cells, potentially causing them to mutate and become cancerous. The more antioxidants like anthocyanins we get, the more antioxidant benefits we enjoy. Black carrots, black carrot juice and other red and purple foods like plums, red-purple mirabelle plums, red beets or black tomatoes are some of the healthiest foods we can include in our daily diet (see benefits of black tomatoes).
If you have a passion for gardening and are devoted to a healthy lifestyle, then you can easily grow your own red, yellow, purple and black carrots. The effort is minimum, but the benefits are great: imagine enjoying all the amazing properties off all carrot varieties! Carrot juice is fresh and very energizing, and because you can make it in so many colors, maybe you can get your children to try it too.
On the plus side, caring for a small carrot garden can be a beautiful hobby and a wonderful way of teaching your children about how beautiful nature is and how rewarding it is to grow something yourself. Being close to nature in any way possible can do wonders for a child and it may be a first step to understanding the importance of a healthy diet.
Nutrition facts and benefits
What makes black carrots good for you? Black carrots are an amazing combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Did you know that 100 g of fresh, organic black carrots has 5 times more vitamin A than the RDI, recommended daily intake for an average adult? As you may already know, vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes and contributes to better immunity as well as improves visual acuity for better eyesight. And black carrots are truly an incredible source of the nutrient.
We can also find moderate amounts of vitamins C, K and B vitamins. Regular consumption of the vegetable is thus beneficial for the immune system, ensures strong bones, promotes blood coagulation, supports nervous system activity, benefits digestion and contributes to good energy levels. Except for vitamin A, black carrots are highest in vitamin K (13.2 mcg), vitamin C (5.9 mg), vitamin B6 (0.138 mg), followed by smaller amounts of vitamins B1, B3, B9 and B2.
Though in small amounts, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus can be found in black carrots as well and contribute to tonic properties and a restorative effect. Potassium in particular is healthy because it counteracts high blood pressure and water retention. For further information on the properties and health benefits of vitamins, see the vitamins and minerals page in the menu at the top of the page.
Black carrot juice: good for you?
While they may not have a conventional look, black carrots are a healthy vegetable, worth including in your diet. And so is black carrot juice. Here are only a few of the reasons you should go for black carrot juice:
- Black carrot juice concentrate has 12 times more antioxidants than regular orange carrot juice.
- Black carrot juice concentrate has 40% more beta-carotene than regular orange carrot juice concentrate.
- Vitamin A and selenium found in black carrots are said to help maintain a stable blood flow, have potent antimicrobial and anticancer properties (due to the incredibly high antioxidant content of black carrots), naturally increase sperm production and promote healthy skin, hair and eyes.
- Black carrot juice has incredible detoxifying properties.
Overall, black carrots remain a healthy choice and if you have the chance of introducing them into your diet, you might be amazed of just how well your body will respond to the change. Nevertheless, it is just one step to eating better and getting healthier. One food is not going to reverse a lifetime of bad dietary habits or outweigh an otherwise poor diet, but it’s a start and one of the best foods to consider eating for both physical and mental health is the purple or black carrot.