Carrots have not shown their orange color for nearly 5000 years. The first mention of the use of carrots by humans dates back to 3000 BC. At that time in Afghanistan, carrots were purple on the outside and yellow on the inside.
The ancient Greeks and Romans also cultivated this vegetable, but mainly for medicinal purposes: carrots were considered a strong aphrodisiac that enhances sexual desire.
As the Arabs carried seeds across Asia, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, carrots blossomed in various shades of purple, white, yellow, red, green, and even black.
The very first orange carrots were grown in Holland in the 16th century – the patriots of their country developed a variety that matched the color of the Dutch royal house of the Orange dynasty.
By the 17th century, the Dutch had become the main European producers of carrots, and all current varieties of the vegetable can be traced back to four legendary varieties: "early half-long", "late half-long", "scarlet" and "long orange".
According to the UN, in 1903 there were 287 varieties of carrots grown in the world, but in the 2000s there were only about 20 of them.
These days, multi-colored vegetables are becoming more and more popular, and many companies around the world are trying to develop plants that would have a non-standard color. So there is a fashion for non-orange varieties on carrots. Today in stores you can find white, yellow, dark red and crimson varieties of carrots.
In addition, varieties of colored carrots (for example, Rainbow F1) have been specially bred, which allow you to grow yellow, purple, white and orange root crops at the same time. They sprout at the same time, beautiful in appearance and tasty. It is worth considering that the same variety itself may have a different color.
In 1997, chocolate-flavoured carrots were introduced in Iceland as part of the Wacky Veg line, specifically aimed at children.
Interesting facts and misconceptions about carrots
Carrots as one of the most useful gifts of nature were praised by the "father of medicine" Hippocrates. In those days, it was used as an antiseptic, laxative and antihelminthic, as well as an ointment against inflammation of the skin and sores on it. And modern scientists recommend carrots as a product that can protect the body from many diseases.
Carrots contain a lot of cellulose, folic acid, potassium, phosphorus and vitamin A. It is low in calories: a medium-sized root vegetable (up to 18 centimeters long) contains only 30 calories. But vitamin A is such an amount that is quite enough for a person for four days.
A recent study conducted in America at the University of Kentucky showed that one gram of carrots contains one third more soluble cellulose than oat bran – the most recommended and most expensive product in the United States against cholesterol.
Many naturopaths and raw foodists prefer raw carrots to boiled carrots, believing that they contain more vitamins and other beneficial substances. However, studies have allowed scientists from the University of Arkansas (USA) to state that boiled carrots contain 3 times more antioxidants that protect the body from cancer than raw ones. It turns out that when storing boiled carrots, new chemical compounds from the group of phenols with high antioxidant activity are formed.
Other lovers of this vegetable claim that it is extremely beneficial for the eyes.
The usefulness of carrots in this case is explained by the fact that it contains beta-carotene, which in the human body turns into vitamin A, which is necessary for the retina. I must say that in the complete absence of this vitamin, the human eye does not adapt to the dark. However, it is not at all necessary to absorb carrots in kilograms in order to get the right amount of vitamin A. The fact is that there are large reserves of beta-carotene in the liver, which are easily replenished with a variety of products. Therefore, fears that vitamin A will not be enough and vision will deteriorate from this are excessive.
Useful properties of colorful carrots
Colored varieties of carrots differ, first of all, in the content of plant pigments. But in addition to coloring root crops, plant pigments perform many other functions in the human body. Many of these pigments are very useful – they work as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, they are responsible for our immunity, improve vision, strengthen the walls of blood vessels, improve skin condition...
Let's look at what pigment causes a particular color of carrots and what useful properties each type of carrot has.
- Orange carrot. The orange color of the root crops indicates a large amount of beta-carotene (provitamin A) and this is one of the main sources of its receipt for the human body. Under the influence of liver enzymes, it turns into vitamin A (retinol), which supports the work of many internal organs and systems. First of all, vitamin A is the basis of overall eye health.
- Yellow carrot. It contains the pigment lutein, which belongs to xanthophylls, which prevent cancer of the internal organs. Lutein protects the retina from the harmful effects of white light, increases visual acuity, improves skin color, and helps prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases.
- Red carrot. It contains lycopene (the same pigment colors watermelons and tomatoes), which helps protect the body from various dangerous diseases, such as lung and prostate cancer. In addition, it has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the heart, improves vision and memory, and slows down the development of cataracts.
- Purple carrots. Contains the natural pigment anthocyanin, which prevents the development of cancer, puts up a barrier against infections, increases immunity and the resistance of small blood vessels, and helps reduce inflammatory reactions and oxidative stress in the intestines. Also rich in anthocyanins: blood orange, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, black currants, cherries, eggplants, black rice, grapes.
- White carrot. It does not contain any pigments, so it does not cause allergies and is perfectly absorbed. It has a very pleasant taste and has a beneficial effect on digestion. Such carrots are an excellent option for baby food.
We also recommend: