Friday, September 25, 2009

What is the level of carotene in your carrots?

I purchased the other day a handful of Niche seed packets. One of these packets was carrot seeds that included purple, white, yellowish and of course orange carrots. So it is with interest that I read yesterday about variation in carotene levels in carrots.

The data is shown in the graphs below, clicking on them will make them bigger. The first one shows variation between years in the same location. the difference between 1985 carrots had 50% more carotene in them than 1984 carrots.

The next graph show variation between geographical locations. The California carrots had approximately double the carotene of the Wisconsin ones.
The graph below compares the different species of carrots. Each breed type is labeled with some letters and numbers. One breed stands out the HCM (High Carotene Mass) breed. Clearly this is the one you want to eat!

The last graph below is a break down of the HCM carrots, for there composition of alpha, beta and delta carotenoids. Take note that the California1986 (middle bunch) had nearly equal amounts of alpha and beta carotene. One of my concerns about carrot juice is that it has really high levels of beta carotene and not much else. However this breed, in this year has a better level of alpha and beta carotene.
What is startingly obvious is that we want to be sowing, and buying the HCM breed of carrots.
Now this study is 25 years old, so there has been decades since this work was undertaken so this should have been ample time to move this breed to market. However this does not seem to have happened.

I would have thought the drive for healthier food would have resulted in the HCM strain becoming a premium carrot strain sold as a “healthier” carrot. There could be a great opportunity in NZ, and maybe other countries to important and grow this more nutritious strain. Also importing this seed to sell as high nutrient carrots could also be a possibility.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting insights David!
    You would think that the HCM would indeed be the most sought after strain.
    Two thoughts:
    1. There is something re HCM carrots that you have not yet discovered (but knowing you, you will)
    2. Nobody else has had this "blinding flash of the obvious" (yet!)
    I always enjoy your research, you are a special man.