Carrot (Daucus carota L.) is ranked among vegetables as the most consumed and the best provitamin A provider. Moreover, carrot also contains vitamins, phenolic compounds, and other antioxidant micronutrients. The influence of carrot genetic background on the content of several micronutrients was investigated. Carotenoids and vitamins (C and E) were analyzed by HPLC in 20 varieties of carrot, and antioxidant activity of carrots was investigated with colorimetric methods (ORAC and Folin-Ciocalteu). There were large differences among cultivars in carotenoid content (0.32 to 17 mg/100 g of fresh weight). In yellow and purple carrots, lutein represents nearly half of the total carotenoids. By contrast, in orange carrots, β-carotene represents the major carotenoid (65%). The concentration of vitamin E ranged from 191 to 703 μg/100 g of fresh weight, whereas the concentration in ascorbic acid ranged from 1.4 to 5.8 mg/100 g. For all these components, dark-orange carrots exhibited the highest values. Significant differences among these 20 varieties were also recorded for mineral and total phenolic compound concentrations. Purple and dark-orange carrots could be preferred to usual carrot varieties to benefit from their specific micronutrients (anthocyanins, carotenoids, or vitamin E). ORAC is a complex reflection of phytomicronutrients but is not tightly linked to vitamin C levels, as shown for white carrots, which are rich in this vitamin.
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