Most people have always known the carrot as an orange vegetable. In fact, generations of people have grown up believing that carrots are supposed to be exclusively orange.
Interestingly though, before the orange carrot was popularized in the sixteenth century, the black carrot (aka Daucus carota ssp. sativus var. atrorubens) was grown across the eastern Mediterranean and Asia. Black carrots still exist in Eastern countries such as India, Egypt, Afghanistan, Turkey, and the Far East.
Black carrots attribute their dark colour to special natural pigments known as anthocyanins. These flavonoid compounds can be found in virtually every dark coloured foods, most noticeably blackberries, blueberries, purple mirabelles, and plums. They are packed with potent antioxidant properties, and due to their amazing ability to trap free radicals, they are very effective against a wide range of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of black carrots.
Health Benefits of Black Carrots
Black carrots come with a plethora of health benefits. These include:
Inflammation has been linked with the onset of several forms of chronic disease, from neurological disorders to cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and of course, cancer.
Normally, inflammation is a biological response designed to signal a health problem, and then initiate tissue repair and healing. However, there are several infelicitous factors that can perpetuate your body’s inflammatory response to the point where it actually becomes a cause for disease.
Your dietary habits play a great role in creating inflammation in your body. Poor choice of ingredients and the general types of foods you consume can have a very negative impact on your health as a whole.
The anthocyanins in black carrots have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As such, including black carrots in your diet can help prevent and control painful inflammatory conditions and avoid long term side effects. It is important to consume the carrots raw in order to prevent losing essential nutrients.
Black carrots are rich in polyphenols like the ones that give red wine and blueberries their vivid colour. During chewing, these compounds are bound to the carrot fiber and remain bound throughout the digestion process in the stomach and small intestine.
Not only does fiber work as a “bowel scourer”, but it also transports polyphenols to the colon where they play a role in gut health-protective mechanisms.
Finally, bacteria in the gut break down the polyphenols before the extraction of the actual fiber.
The products released from the digested polyphenols then help to protect the colon from cancer. However, you need to consume everything in order to gain the full benefits of polyphenols. This refers to the whole vegetable, including the fibrous pulp when juicing the carrot.
Eye Health Protecting Qualities
You are probably already aware that wild blueberries (bilberries) are good for your eyes, primarily due to their anthocyanin properties. However, studies have shown that other foods that contain this compound such as black carrots can also help improve your eye health.
Anthocyanins can promote vision in several ways, such as minimizing the risk of retinopathy in diabetic patients, fighting macular degeneration, increasing circulation within the retina’s capillaries, and enhancing night vision.
Apart from the high anthocyanin concentration, the lutein in black carrots has also been proved to enhance eye health. In fact, it is also known as “the eye vitamin” and is often used as a preventive treatment for age related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and cataracts.
Improved Vascular Health
Like many heart healthy foods, black carrots have long been associated with improved vascular health. If you suffer from varicose veins or venous insufficiency, adding black carrots and other anthocyanin-rich foods in your diet can help combat the condition.
Some of the ways anthocyanins help counter vericose veins include: repairing damaged proteins in the walls of your blood vessels, neutralizing enzymes that damage connective tissue, and promoting circulation and general health of your vascular system.
High in Fibre
Fibre is an important compound that speeds up digestion and helps the body assimilate essential nutrients. The daily recommended fibre intake is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Black carrots provide around 0.8 gram per 1 ounce of raw sticks.
To put this into perspective, if you eat half a cup or 4 ounces of black carrots, you get approximately 3 grams of fibre. Much of the fibre contained in black carrots is soluble, meaning that it absorbs water in your digestive tract to form a gel-like substance. This substance can help stabilize blood glucose levels and lower blood cholesterol when traveling through your intestines.
Increased Weight Loss
Like bananas, Incorporating black carrots into a high sugar, high saturated fat diet (like the typical Western diet) can lead to weight loss and numerous other benefits. Apart from helping in weight loss, black carrots can aid in heart health, liver function, and a stable blood pressure.
This is primarily attributed to the powerful anthocyanins. Moreover, black carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is essential for a healthy skin and healthy eyes. They can also improve the quality of male sperm and strengthen your immune system.
The best part is that you can include them in your diets without worrying about the calories, since every 100 grams of black carrots gives you just 35 calories. This makes black carrots especially suitable when looking to lose weight or stay in shape. They can be consumed at mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or as a healthy snack.
By now, you have probably figured out that the most beneficial ingredient in black carrots is anthocyanins. Once again, these compounds come into play in the fight against diabetes. Having diabetes can be detrimental to your blood vessels, which are made of collagen.
The antioxidant properties from anthocyanins help to neutralize enzymes that destroy collagen and connective tissues. Too much damage can cause regular high blood sugar levels, leading to further damage to your blood vessels. Anthocyanins work to repair and restore collagen, subsequently strengthening the blood vessels and promoting blood flow.
How To Include Black Carrots In The diet
There are several ways you can fully exploit the beneficial properties of black carrots. One good method is preparing a nice homemade juice, in which case you’ll have to peel the carrots first.
You can also use black carrots to prepare your salads, and then season with olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Dry mixes
- Breakfast cereal
- Salad dressing
- Fruit preparations
- Specialty tea
- Juice drinks
- Energy drinks
Black carrot is edible when raw and makes a perfect ingredient for fresh salad. Combine long pieces of red carrot, black carrot, and radish with chopped tomatoes and boiled potato in a bowl, and mix well. Stir in lemon juice, green chillies, and salt to taste.
Breanne Fleat is chief editor at ProteinPromo.com. Created in 2016, ProteinPromo is keen on providing readers with sports, nutrition and wellness hints and tips as well as money saving offers from the biggest and best brands.
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