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Colored carrots, colored chickpeas as functional foods

Posted Feb 16 2010 12:00am 1 Comment - New food research is suggesting that colored varieties of chickpeas and carrots may make qualify them as “functional foods” or even superfoods with special nutritional benefits.

Colored chickpeas - a functional food

Colored chickpeas have significantly higher antioxidant qualities than the regular cream and beige color varieties, according to a new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Known to be high protein, chickpeas are the second most important pulses in the world with crops grown in more than 37 countries. Legumes also offer health-benefiting antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which positions them as a functional food.

Researchers from the Volcani Center in Israel looked at 17 lines of chickpeas ranging from black, red, brown, green, rubiginous, gray, yellow, and beige. The chickpeas were separated into seed parts and ground into a fine power for analysis. Results indicated that colored chickpeas contained up to 13 times more polyphenols , up to 11 times more flavonoids and up to 31 times more antioxidant activity than beige chickpeas.

“Darkness, yellowness, and high color intensity chickpeas contained more antioxidants,” according to lead researcher Dr. Shmuel Galili. “Given the functional food attributes of chickpeas, they might contribute significantly to the management of degenerative diseases.”

Multi-colored carrots - health benefits

Orange carrots are highly revered and regarded as “good for you” vegetables but a review from Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety describes carrots of the purple and red variety and suggest they offer just as much nutritional benefit.

The review published by the Institute of Food Technologists offers insight on the nutritional value of carrots of all colors stating that the greatest benefits of this food are the phytochemical content and fiber. Carotenoids are compounds that are responsible for the multi-hues of carrots ranging from yellow to orange and red. Anthocyanins give the purple carrots their bluish-red hue.

Carrot researchers suggest:

* Red carrots provide the antioxidant lycopene.
* Yellow carrots may serve as an alternative bioavailable source of lutein.
* Dark orange carrots have more concentrated beta carotene, which might assist people who are at risk for vitamin A deficiency.
* Purple carrots have similar bioavailability of beta carotene as orange carrots.

The review authors detail that carrots have an impact on overall health and disease prevention including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and satiety.

Carrots are a functional food that plays a role in optimal health according to lead author Sara Arscott. “Understanding the bioavailability of carrots nutrients will help researchers determine how to best help a population in need.”

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