Why carrots have an orange color

Carrot is one of the most common vegetables. It has a bright and attractive appearance. Orange carrots did not acquire this color immediately. Some of its species have a different color.

Why carrots have an orange color

Vegetable ancestors

Cultural varieties of carrots originally existed 2: Eastern and Asian. Anthocyanin pigment gave their color a purple hue, and in large quantities even black. Now such a variety is found in Afghanistan, the Himalayas, Iran, India, Russia. Yellow carrot grows there, more resilient and tart. The leaves of the eastern plant are pubescent and have a silver tint.

Purple root crops began to be cultivated around the 10th century. In XIII, he appeared in the countries of the Mediterranean Sea, in the XV - in China. In Asia, purple and yellow varieties are still grown today, but they are not as popular as their orange cousin.

In ancient times there was no single name for this vegetable, so white varieties were often confused with parsnip. Later, he was given a separate name to separate from related root crops.

The confusion continued until the Middle Ages, until purple and yellow species were again brought into European countries. Today, carrots are officially considered a valuable plant, and all varieties, from white to black, are subject to the classification of Linnaeus, eaten in the XVIII century.

Selection work

The first experiment on the root crop was carried out by Dutch scientists in the 18th century. The aim of the selection was to make the carrots produce larger and juicy fruits. During the events, the vegetable lost some of the essential oils, but acquired a lot of other beneficial properties.

Up to this point, the story knew red, yellow, purple, white, but not orange. According to one version, the vegetable that has taken root in color owes to Orange Prince William, allegedly as an expression of gratitude for Holland's independence during the war with Spain.

The first experiment on the root crop was carried out by Dutch scientists in the XVIII century

According to another hypothesis, the root crop received an orange color due to the crossing of a red variety with a yellow one. This happened in the XVIII century, when the vegetable was brought to the Netherlands from Iran. It is the orange color that is considered a symbol of the Dutch state.

Peter I brought carrots to Russia in the form in which we know it along with other vegetables. For a long time, root crops were used only as a means for treating diseases. Only after 2 centuries, carrots became widely consumed.

From the 70s of the twentieth century to the present day, breeders continue to work on the quality of carrots, improving its usefulness. The percentage of carotene in it almost doubled: by the twentieth century, carrots became the champion in its content.

Color formation

Carrots are colored in orange, thanks to the pigment carotenoid - a natural dye. It accumulates thanks to the DCAR_03255 gene. Beta-carotene is found in small quantities in tomatoes and broccoli. By splitting into small particles, the dye is converted to vitamin A. Excessive consumption of the vegetable leads to carotinemia: a person's skin turns orange from excess pigment in the blood.

Yellow and white colors are also rare. These varieties were obtained by crossing eastern varieties with wild Mediterranean ones.

Thanks to the pigment carotenoid carrot orange

Orange carrots, like white, are a hybrid of oriental white varieties. The color of the vegetable depends on the content of carotenoid pigments.

  • carotene A and B affect the orange and yellow colors of carrots, and the percentage of beta-carotene can be more than 50%;
  • lycopene and xanthophyllum give the root vegetable a red color;
  • the lower the carotene content in the carrot, the brighter it looks;
  • the percentage of anthocyanins in the vegetable is responsible for its light purple or black color, and also gives it the function of an antioxidant.

Composition and useful properties

Carotene, which gives carrots an orange color, is contained in the product in large quantities: 9-10 mg per 100 g. The vegetable also contains vitamins C, E, group B, carbohydrates, in particular glucose, minerals: calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur is a valuable protein. The energy value of carrots is 28-31 kcal / 100 g.

Simple carrots are a truly valuable product for the human body. Daily eating it, a person improves the condition of the skin, hair, nails, provides prevention of visual acuity.

The root crop is able to regulate blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Fiber contained in orange and yellow carrots has a beneficial effect on intestinal function.

Differences from orange varieties from purple

If a carrot of a familiar orange color is a storehouse of beta-carotene, then anthocyanin dominates in the composition of its purple or blue-black relative. This pigment, affecting the color, saturates the plant with many useful properties. Such carrots have an antioxidant effect on the body, anti-inflammatory, strengthens the immune system, lowers cholesterol and improves the functioning of blood vessels.


Orange carrots, familiar to modern man, is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals necessary for the full functioning of the body. This is facilitated by the plant pigment carotenoid, which stains the root crop in a bright red color.


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