Most people are familiar with orange carrots, however, there are other types—specifically white carrots— that may refer to the white varieties of the common carrot, or arracacha, a root vegetable.
White carrots lack pigmentation, hence the presence of the white colour. Generally, they are as tasty as orange carrots, but look less attractive. They can be found in local markets like Nyabugogo, and go for Rwf4, 000 a bucket.
Nutritionists say these carrots contain naturally occurring, health promoting substances called phytochemicals, natural bioactive compounds found in plant foods that work with nutrients and dietary fibre to protect against many diseases, thus making them essential to your health.
Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association in Kigali, says white carrots have high starch content, ranging between 10 and 25 per cent.
He says that white carrots contain vitamin A and antioxidants, which help protect the skin from sun damage.
Musengimana mentions that the deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, and uneven skin tone.
The carrots also contain fibre, vitamin K, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc.
He notes that studies have shown that white carrots reduce the risk of lung, breast and colon cancer and are good for digestion.
Diets rich in beta-carotene may play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition.
David Rukerabigwi, a dietician and nutritionist working with Slim n’ Fit, a weight loss and wellness centre in Kigali, says the antioxidants and phytochemicals in white carrots may also help with blood sugar regulation, delay the effects of ageing, and improve immune function.
Also, white carrots are preferably used in baby foods to prevent them from forming orange skin.
When eaten as part of an overall healthy diet, Rukerabigwi says, the nutrients in these carrots may provide one with protection against heart disease and stroke while helping them to build strong bones and a healthy nervous system.
They’re also a weight-loss-friendly food and have been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved eye health.