Trendy Rainbow Carrots Pack a Nutrient Punch

Trendy Rainbow Carrots Pack a Nutrient Punch
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Trendy Rainbow Carrots Pack a Nutrient Punch

While rainbow-hued carrots are starting to become popular in the United States, they've been around for many years and are already commonly eaten around the world. These "new" varieties have been bred to carry extra nutritional benefits. Read on to discover how colorful carrots can boost your health.

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Plant geneticist Philipp Simon says that unusual shades of carrots have been around for more than a thousand years, but the process of carrot-breeding is relatively new, dating back just 50 years.

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According to the USDA, carrots with different plant pigments produce different health benefits. For example, red carrots get their color from lycopene (also found in tomatoes), which can protect against heart disease and some cancers.

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The pigment xanthophylls in yellow carrots can maintain the health of your eyes.

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Purple carrots carry the pigment anthocyanins, which have powerful antioxidant properties.

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Over the years, geneticists have even boosted the standard orange carrot to carry more nutrients. Compared to carrots 25 years ago, today's carrots now have 75 percent more beta-carotene.

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In addition to enhancing their nutrient profile, geneticists also work to improve their culinary appeal. How does one decide what a purple carrot should taste like? To answer this question, geneticist Philipp Simon uses consumer taste tests to greater understand the relationship between color and perception of taste.

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We're familiar with orange carrots at our local market, but would you be willing to eat purple, red or even white carrots?

Time reports that a new trend of colorful carrots is becoming popular in the United States, but what might surprise you is that these "new" varieties have been around for many years and are already widely eaten in other parts of the world like Central Asia and the Mediterranean. While their unusual colors might throw you off, there's good reason to give them a try. Geneticists have bred more nutrients in them, in an effort to improve American's nutritional intake.

Rainbow-hued carrots are as healthy as standard carrots, but their pigments can provide extra nutrients. For example, purple carrots include the pigment anthocyanin and have a boost in vitamin A, while the lycopene carotene in red carrots (which is also found in tomatoes) may reduce your risk of certain cancers.

Check out the slideshow above to discover more benefits of colorful carrots.

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