When most people think of a carrot, orange is the color that comes to mind. The color orange has been primarily associated with the carrot for quite some time as far as the masses are concerned. Though an orange carrot is a welcome sight in soups, salads, and on dinner plates, there was a time when the carrot was a different shade entirely.

Prior to the 17th century, the majority of carrots were purple in color with a splash of other colors such as red, yellow, and even white. Over time these colorations began to fade in popularity, being replaced by orange carrots that were developed by Dutch growers. The orange carrot, which was at the time sweeter and fleshier than other colorations, grew in popularity until it became the variety of carrot predominantly grown and consumed. That is not to say the purple carrot is gone forever; in fact, purple carrots are experiencing resurgence.

The reason for the purple coloration is a pigment known as anthocyanin, which actually gives these heirloom carrots a higher antioxidant capacity. This is one of many reasons the purple carrot is back in the game; as it turns out, the health benefits of purple carrots are many. Sure, the orange carrot is healthy as well, but the purple carrot packs an additional punch. If you're wondering what the purple carrot can do for you, here are a few things:

1. The anthocyanin present in purple carrots have strong anti-inflammatory properties. This means relief as strong as that of an aspirin for those with inflammatory illnesses.

2. Foods with anthocyanin are excellent for eye health. They increase capillary circulation, improve night vision, and reduce the possibility of diabetics developing retinopathy. Purple carrots also contain lutein which is another eye benefit the helps with cataracts, macular degeneration, and retinitis pigmentosa.

3. In the battle against colon cancer, purple carrots are an ally. The lutein and anthocyanin produced by these carrots have shown great promise when it comes to preventing and inhibiting colon cancer cellular growth.

4. Circulation and vascular problems can be improved by the purple carrot. The anthocyanin can regenerate blood vessel and improve circulation as well as vascular health as a whole.

When you consider the health benefits to be gained from a purple carrot, it makes sense to give them a try. In addition to jazzing up the dinner table, they can give your body a boost as well. Plus, there is something exciting about growing heirloom vegetables, an itch the purple carrot is most definitely able to scratch. If this sounds like something up your alley, some varieties you of purple carrot you might wish to try include:
  • Cosmic Purple
  • Indigo
  • Maroon
  • Purple Dragon
  • Purple Dutch
  • Purple Haze
Though the orange carrot has dominated the market for quite some time, there is always room for change, both in the garden and on your palate. If you are uncertain as to whether the purple carrot, some of which are almost black, is an endeavor upon which you wish to embark, check out your local farmer's market. As the popularity of purple grows, it is very possible you can find purple carrots there to try before you decide to plant your own. You may find that the purple carrot is the way of the future, but if not, its trusty orange counterpart will be there waiting to pick up your dinner right where it left off.