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Saturday, Dec 25, 2004

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Eat carrot of your favourite colour

Our Bureau

Chennai , Dec. 24

EVER thought about eating carrot of a different colour. Well, it could soon be a reality and in a rainbow of colours.

Scientss with the Agricultural Research Service, an arm of the US Department of Agriculture, are breeding carrots that come in a palette of colours including yellow, dark orange, bright red and, even, purple.

With their flashy colours, these conventionally-bred carrots could dress up any dull meal, the scientists say. These carrots have health-promoting properties. Yellow carrots derive their golden hues from xanthophylls that are linked with good eye health. Red carrots contain lycopene, a type of carotene also found in tomatoes and it is believed to guard against heart disease and some cancers. Anthocyanins give purple carrots their colour. In a class all by themselves, these pigments are considered to be powerful antioxidants that can guard the body's fragile cells from the destructive .

At first, Dr Philipp Simon, the carrots' breeder who works at the ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wisconsin, was unsure if these complex vegetables could provide nutrients in a form that the human body can use. But in studies with nutritionist Ms Sherry Tanumihardjo from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Dr Simon found that yellow carrots' lutein was 65 per cent as it is from a lutein supplement. The two also discovered that lycopene from red-pigmented carrots is 40 per cent as available from tomato paste.

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