Why are some carrots different colors? Well, for the same reason why people have different skin tones, and flowers come in so many gorgeous hues. Read on to find out more about some of our favorite root vegetables, and what makes them so pretty.
I’m Confused: Why are Some Carrots Different Colors?
Most of us grew up with the certainty that lemons were yellow, spinach was green, and carrots were orange. This led many of us to be quite confused when we saw rainbow colors in so many different hues.
The colors are created by a wide range of carotenoids, which are compounds that carry different pigments. They’re antioxidants that have a wide range of effects on our bodies. For example, there are carotenoids known as xanthyphylls, such as lutein and zaxanthin. These are oxygen-rich, and help to promote eye health while also reducing heart disease. Lycopene is another one, which also helps heart health, while assisting in fending off various cancers.
Interestingly, these different color also come with different flavors. These can range from what we know as “real” carrot flavor to either sweeter, harsher, peppery, or flowery. The sugars present in carrots combine with some flavor compounds known as terpenoids to create this wide range of flavors and scents.
Carrots wide range of hues also relate to different antioxidants, in varying levels!
These carrots originated in Afghanistan and Iran. They aren’t as sweet as other carrots, nor are they particularly flavorful. Sadly, they don’t have many beneficial nutrients either. What they do have is a lot of fiber (which is great for you), and crunch. You can use white carrots in any recipe that needs a bit more texture, without adding any more flavors to the mix.
If you find bright yellow carrots, do a little joyful dance because you scored hard. These are juicy and fragrant, with a fabulous crunch. They don’t bleed out color when cooked, and have a gentle sweetness when raw.
These beauties have high levels of lutein. If you’re not familiar with this vitamin yet, definitely do your research! It’s related to vitamin A and beta-carotene, and is found in various brassica vegetables, as well as squashes, kiwis, various orange fruits and vegetables, and grapes. Your body has a greater chance of absorbing lutein alongside fat. As such, be sure to cook yellow carrots with a lot of olive oil, or dip raw sticks into your favorite guacamole recipe.
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These are the traditional carrots we know and love. They have the highest beta-carotene levels, and the “true carrot” flavor we love so much. Orange carrots come in the widest variety of shapes and sizes. As a result, if you’re keen on growing carrots for the first time, look for orange ones. You’ll find easy-to-grow varieties that adapt to most soils, and mature quickly.
Red carrots are as high in lycopene as they are rich in flavor. They taste very similar to orange carrots, only slightly sweeter and earthier. They’re amazing both raw and cooked, and look gorgeous in just about any recipe you add them to.
Remember that carrots’ various healthy compounds are best absorbed with fats. As a result, can get creative with how you eat these stunners. For example, red carrots make the absolute best carrot soup ever. Try adding a bit of coconut cream to your next batch. This will add incredible creaminess, as well as healthy fats!
These don’t taste the same as traditional orange carrots. They can be intensely sweet, and often have an earthy, spicy flavor somewhat like parsnips. Additionally, they lose a lot of pigment when cooked, so expect them to ooze into other ingredients. That said, they taste really great raw, and make absolutely spectacular carrot juice.
Purple carrots also have high levels of anthocyanins. These are antioxidants found in all purple, blue, and black fruits and vegetables. You’ll also find purple carrots that have have red, orange, or white cores. They all have high anthocyanin levels, but also have lycopene and alpha carotene.
Related Post: Why are Some Carrots Purple?
Black carrots are actually super dark purple in hue. They have even more anthocyanins than their lighter cousins, which is awesome. They’re the spiciest of the bunch, and have the same health properties as purple ones.
If you’d like to grow your own “rainbow” of carrots, you can find mixed packs at most seed companies. Alternatively, you can buy seeds of all different hues and grow a wide variety of them. Just be aware that in the same way that these carrots all have different flavors, they also have different growth and maturation rates. This means that your yellow carrots won’t ripen the same week that your red or purples will. Your best bet is to plant many different seeds successively. That way, you’re sure to have a few different hues ripen at the same time.
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