Dr. Greene’s take on rainbow carrots:
A maroon and orange carrot, bred to match the colors of Texas A&M University, was analyzed in the March 2002 issue of Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals and found to have more vitamin A, more antioxidants and 40 per cent more beta-carotene than “traditional” orange carrots.
But orange is not the original color of carrots – believe it or not, purple is!
The carrot seems to have started in Afghanistan, and what appears to be a purple carrot is featured on Egyptian temple walls dating back more than 4000 years. The purple carrot was the norm in India, Europe, and throughout the Middle East.
Then, 400 years ago, in another burst of patriotism, Dutch farmers bred an orange carrot to match their country’s color.
Today the purple carrot is making a comeback, and green, yellow, red, white, and black varieties have been bred.
These natural pigments contain healthy nutrients. The “traditional” purple variety tastes sweeter, and is especially rich in anthocyanins, which also act as antioxidants.
Marketers and parents know, that colorful foods can attract kids. Who needs artificially colored green catsup? I hope these newly available healthy colors will tempt many kids to give carrots another try.