Some people believe that carrots raise blood sugar levels and that people with diabetes should not eat them. However, this is not the case.
In this article, we explore the effects that carrots can have on blood sugar and describe the ways in which carrots can benefit the health of a person with diabetes.
We also look into the carrots’ glycemic index (GI) score, the most healthful way to prepare them, and other dietary tips for people with diabetes.
Because carrots are a nonstarchy vegetable, people with diabetes can eat them freely, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
In fact, carrots may benefit people with diabetes because they contain the following compounds:
Carrots are a good source of carotenoids, a type of pigment.
In the diet, these compounds primarily occur in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
The pigment in a person’s eyes also contains carotenoids, and their antioxidant activity helps protect the retina from damage.
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that can lead to loss of vision, and it is a common complication of diabetes.
A medium raw carrot contains 5.84 g of carbohydrates. Although carrots are not necessarily low in carbohydrates, they are a healthful source.
Counting carbs and keeping them within a healthful range can help a person regulate their blood sugar levels and thus prevent diabetes complications, which can include:
Another article, published the same year in Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders Drug Targets, warns that people with chronic diseases involving carbohydrate intake, such as diabetes, should be sure to consume enough vitamin A.
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in the pancreas and in the production of these beta cells.
The vitamin also helps regulate immune functions, such as T-cell-mediated immunity, which may affect the onset of type 1 diabetes.
People with diabetes should consume 20–35 g of fiber per day, from vegetables, fruits, and minimally processed grains.
Carrots contain 2.8 g of dietary fiber per 100 g.
The GI is a tool that measures how the carbohydrates in specific foods affect a person’s blood glucose levels.
A type of food with a high GI score will raise blood sugar levels more than a food with a low GI score.
The association recommends eating at least 3–5 servings of vegetables a day. One serving is about:
- ½ cup of cooked vegetables
- 1 cup of raw vegetables
Choosing nonstarchy fruits and vegetables, with GI scores of 55 or less, can help a person with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.
Other nonstarchy vegetables, which people with diabetes can eat freely, include:
- leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
- salad greens
- green beans and wax beans
- brussels sprouts
- cauliflower and broccoli
- summer squash
The GI score of carrots varies, according to their preparation:
|Preparation method||Serving (g)||GI score||Carbs per serving (g)|
|Diced and boiled||80||49||5|
|Raw and diced||80||35||6|
|Raw and whole||80||16||8|
|Carrot cake, with coconut flour||60||36||23|
The following strategies can help a person with diabetes follow a healthful diet:
- Choose higher-fiber, minimally processed carbohydrates: These come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.
- Limit salt: A person should consume no more than 6 g of sodium per day.
- Choose healthful fats: These come from nuts, avocados, seeds, oily fish, and vegetable oils.
- Limit red and processed meats: Opt for lean sources of protein instead, such as pulses, eggs, poultry, unsalted nuts, and fish.
- Reduce sugar intake: It is important to check labels carefully for added sugar and look to fruit when sugar cravings strike.
- Choose healthful snacks: For a person with diabetes, these include yogurt, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
- Limit alcohol consumption: The ADA recommend that males have no more than two drinks per day and females have no more than one.
- Avoid supplements: Try to obtain vitamins and minerals from the diet, unless a doctor recommends specific supplements.
People with diabetes can eat non-starchy vegetables freely — including carrots.
Eating them raw or cooking them very lightly can help prevent the preparation from increasing the GI score.
Various compounds in carrots, such as carotenoids, fiber, and vitamin A can help manage blood sugar levels and prevent complications, such as diabetes-related eye damage.
Maintaining a healthful diet, reducing the intake of carbs, and boosting levels of physical activity can all play important roles in managing diabetes.