Q. I've been buying bags of carrots that have multiple colors - yellow and purple, as well as orange. Is the nutritional value, particularly beta- carotene, of non-orange carrots less?
A. Elizabeth J. Johnson, PhD, a scientist in Tufts' HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory, says: "With the exception of white carrots, all are good sources of carotenoids and other beneficial phytonutrients. Color is the best indicator of this. Orange carrots contain the highest level of total carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A. Yellow and purple carrots contain good amounts of the carotenoid lutein, intakes of which have been associated with eye and brain health. Purple carrots contain higher amounts of phenolics, especially anthocyanins, which may be protective against cancer and heart disease. Each carrot type will have varied health effects because of these colored compounds. A healthy dietary pattern contains a variety of fruits and vegetables, which carrots of multiple colors can be a part of."