Carrots are one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. They come in various colors and sizes and are widely available all over the world.
Historians believe that carrots have been grown and eaten since the 1500s. Initially, carrots were cultivated in purple, white and yellow varieties. The orange and red varieties came much later.
Whatever be their color, there is enough evidence to prove that carrot is a super food and benefits of eating carrots are enormous. Each variety of this antioxidant rich food, supplies us with surplus amounts of vitamins.
The markets are lined with carrots, from deep red to orange to purplish black, vegetable sellers have them all. Purple carrots (or the Kali Gajar) are found only in some limited parts of North India. These carrots get their characteristic hue because of the extra antioxidant pigments that may benefit diseases like arthritis and many heart diseases.
The red carrots (or the Desi Gajar) and the orange carrots are enjoyed by the entire country. So what is the difference between the two? Is it only the color or there is a significant change in the nutritive profile too?
Red VS Orange Carrots – What’s the Difference?
Bangalore based nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood says, “The orange carrots are of the hybrid variety. They are genetically engineered. While the red ones are the non-hybrid original variety, cultivated in higher numbers in the Asiatic region. Red carrots, as such are more nutritive in value. It has more beta carotene which gives it the scarlet tinge”.
Red carrots derive their color from the beta carotene, the naturally occurring group of pigments that determines the color of many fruit and vegetables.
Beta carotene are essential to make vitamin A, which are required for a good eyesight. Beta-carotene is most abundant in carrots, it is also found in pumpkins, apricots and nectarines.
Another compound called lycopene, the one also found in tomatoes is also responsible for the reddish hue. Lycopene protects our body against free radicals for its high antioxidant properties, putting the risk of heart diseases at bay.
The orange carrots also get their bright color from beta-carotene which varies slightly from the red carrots. The red carrots definitely have extra antioxidant pigments naturally. But orange carrots too loaded in vitamins A, E and K. It also contains the eye healthy antioxidants lutein and lycopene.
Red Carrot VS Orange Carrot Nutrition
Here we differtiate between nutritional benefits of red and orange carrot, how both offer health benefits to human body.
Red Carrot Health Benefits
- Red carrots contain a compound called lycopene, which gives it its red color, the one also found in tomatoes.
- Lycopene present in red carrot protects our body against free radicals. It is believed to fight cancer cells and prevent heart disease.
- Vitamin A found in red carrots is essential for healthy eyes. Red carrots also contain phytonutrients called anthocyanin.
- Anthocyanin is powerful antioxidant that can help prevent cell damage and decrease the risk of a heart attack.
Orange Carrot Health Benefits
- Orange carrots are loaded with vitamins A, E and K. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, vitamin K aids in blood clotting and improves bone health whereas vitamin E boosts the immune system.
- Vitamin E, also known as skin vitamin supplements and gives it its natural glow.
- Beta carotene present in orange carrots has excellent antioxidant properties and protects the body against oxidative damage.
- Orange carrot contains a pigment called lutein, which helps decrease the risk of macular degeneration and other age-related diseases.
Usage of Red Carrots and Orange Carrots
Carrots are the simplest vegetables to cook. They can be steamed, boiled, added to stews, soups or salads.
1. Raw carrots
Both red and orange carrots offer maximum nutritional benefit when eaten raw. A few carrot sticks a day can help strengthen and clean children’s teeth and may also help encourage lower-jaw development.
Juicing gives highest concentration of beta carotene. Makes good base ingredient for fruit and vegetable juice mixes.
Orange carrots are made by altering the genes, to receive the best characteristic nutrition of the vegetable. Hence nutritive output of orange carrots could be more upon juicing. Also their sugar content is lesser than the red Desi Gajar.
Desi carrots are seasonal, whereas the hybrid variety is found round the year. Desi or Red carrots are more sweet, juicy and crunchy and hence preferred for preparations of desserts. Indians have the luxury of using the red carrots for a longer span of time in the year compared to the Europe or America where the availability of carrots is low. So, the rest of the world use more of the orange ones which are less sweet and widely for grilling, sautéing and in salads.
Red Carrot VS Orange Carrot – Which One Is Better?
We can find a vast spectrum of colors in nature, be it fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, or birds. Colors have a lot of significance when it comes to food. Red, orange or purple, carrots are definitely one of the most healthy and nutritious vegetables you can treat yourself with this winters. So get started already!
For health, beauty, and anti-aging, it is recommended to have a rainbow diet. A rainbow diet is one that incorporates all naturally occurring colors in food. So, you could increase your health quotient simply by making your plate vibrant with colorful fruits and vegetables. Thus, eating different varieties of carrots could surely be one good way to include colors and a host of nutrients in our diet.
The result is….
Both type of carrots red carrot and orange carrot have a lot of benefits. So, both are equally good.
Remember – more colors in your plate means more health!