Purple carrots – yes, you heard me right, purple not orange – are rich in phytonutrients, such as anthocyanins, phenolic acids, and carotenoids. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia set out to investigate how these compounds might aid in the treatment of the metabolic syndrome. They compared how well either purple carrot juice or beta-carotene reversed the structural and functional damage to tissues in rats fed a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Results showed that the rats fed a high-carbohydrate, high fat diet developed all the symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, including hypertension, cardiac fibrosis, increased cardiac stiffness, endothelial dysfunction, impaired glucose tolerance, increased abdominal fat deposition, altered plasma lipid profile, liver fibrosis and increased plasma liver enzymes together with increased plasma markers of oxidative stress and inflammation as well as increased inflammatory cell infiltration. However, supplement that diet with purple carrot juice and all those damaging effects were reversed. Beta carotene did not reduce oxidative stress, cardiac stiffness or fatty liver. The researchers suspect that it was either the anthocyanins or a combination of phytonutrients that produced the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which then improved glucose tolerance, as well as cardiovascular and liver structure and function. Poudyal H, Panchal S, Brown L: Comparison of purple carrot juice and beta-carotene in a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet-fed rat model of the metabolic syndrome. British Journal of Nutrition 2010;12:1-11.
Gotta Love Those Anthocyanins!