Can people with Diabetes Eat Carrots?

After a diabetes diagnosis, the first change recommended is a cleanup of diet. Suddenly, some foods considered healthy in the past are placed on a do-not-eat list. A naturally nutrient-rich and low carb diet with healthy fats is ideal for people with diabetes. You will be happy to know that carrot fits the bill. While carrots may not be the lowest carb food for diabetes, they are rich in multiple nutritional benefits. Let’s explore some of the benefits and facts of the good old crunchy vegetable.

What Are Carrots?

They are root vegetables that vary in color from yellow, white, orange, red, and purple.  Scientifically, they are referred to as Daucus carota subs sativus, containing loads of fiber and nutrients. They are incredibly versatile and available year-round. A 2012 study found that they are high in potent health-boosting antioxidants which could reverse type 2 diabetes.

Can Diabetics Eat Carrots?

The answer to this question is yes. People with diabetes can enjoy moderate intake of carrot, accompanied with other vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli. Carrots are nutritious vegetables packed with beta-carotene (the vitamin A precursor), vitamin K, vitamin C, anthocyanins, and potassium. With a glycemic index of just over 40, it is considered moderate in terms of its effects on sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Aside from the GI dietary score, a carrot contains only 4 grams of the net digestible carbs and high dietary fiber necessary for people with diabetes. Fiber is known to regulate sugar in the blood and trigger the release of insulin. There is strong evidence that the intake of such fiber could reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.  Foods low in carbs and low GI do not have a high impact on blood glucose. 

Although eating them raw is the most nutritious option, cooking would not compromise on their nutritional content much. The following nutrients present can be beneficial to people with diabetes.

  • Vitamin A: Rich in beta-carotene, which is then converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A is a primary promoter of good vision. It is also great at improving immune function and growth.
  • Vitamin B-6: This is a vitamin crucial for metabolism. People with type 1 and 2 diabetes have been found to have a B-1 and B-6 deficiency. The deficiency then triggers the development of diabetic neuropathy.

The Myth behind Carrot GI

People with diabetes are advised to use the Glycemic Index (GI) tool to plan their diets in order to manage the levels of their blood sugar. GI gauges how the quantity of a certain food affects glucose levels by comparing it against pure glucose of the same quantity. Pure glucose has a GI of 100. The higher the GI of a specific type of food, the higher the chances of a spike in blood sugar.

For that reason, diabetics are encouraged to stick to low GI foods. The Glycemic Index Institute has assigned a GI of 41 to carrots. This is a moderate GI level. However, earlier studies suggested that the carrot had a higher figure based on the natural sweetness present in the vegetable. Diabetics were then warned and asked to shun the vegetable until recently when the study was found to be flawed.

How Carrots help in the Management of Diabetes

This crunchy delight can do wonders to your blood sugar levels. The fiber-rich veggie has been found to manage diabetes. This is because fiber takes long to digest, meaning your body does not absorb all fibers at once. The long breakdown process prevents a spike of blood sugars. Diabetes management also largely depends on the right preparation of food. The carrot is best eaten fresh and raw. They can also be chopped and used in salads (such as egg salad) or soups together with peanut butter to boost weight loss and the control of blood sugar.

A glass of carrot juice with carrots in the background

Healthy Diabetic Diet

Following a healthy meal plan and exercising can help in the management and reversal of diabetes. What you eat and drink need to be balanced to keep the glucose levels in the recommended range. The American Diabetes Association recommends a nutritious diet containing fruits, vegetables, proteins, low fat or nonfat dairy, and grains to promote healthy weight and balanced blood glucose. Include oatmeal into your diet too. Healthy eating contains the following:

  • Non-starchy vegetables with low to moderate carbs such as broccoli, onion, and carrot.
  • Low carb intake in every meal. Carbs with high fiber are instead recommended for improved blood sugar levels. Brown rice and whole grain food products such as bread fall into this category.
  • Lean protein such as fish or chicken
  • Low-fat dairy and fruits. Fruit juices and dried fruits tend to have concentrated carbs, so avoid those.

Despite being higher carbohydrates than most other green leafy vegetables, they are great at controlling blood sugar levels. They also provide your body with minerals, vitamins, and compounds that boost your health. If you have gestational diabetes, hummus will be a great treat. It is a prenatal powerhouse made from healthy fats and legumes.  Chickpea is the main ingredient in hummus. Although diabetics can also indulge in treats, they should be occasional and in very low portions. Too much sugary food can cause a spike in blood sugar. Stevia for diabetes is much better than sugar. Sugary foods may also boost weight gain. The Mediterranean diet may be a good start for you. It has been proven to contain glycemic control benefits.

These orange vegetables is a great option to include in your healthy diet if you have diabetes. Why not enjoy roasted baby carrots or a ground turkey stir-fry with carrot chops? They are non-starchy, containing vital nutrients that may help in controlling and stabilizing your blood sugar levels. Nutrient-rich foods and snacks can be a great way to curb hunger and prevent a spike in blood sugars. Whether you have type 1, 2, or gestational diabetes, it is important that you check with your doctor before making any dietary changes. A trained dietician can offer proper suggestions on healthy foods to include in your meal plan.