How to Enjoy Carrots on a Low-Carb Diet

Carrot nutrients are associated with a lower risk for heart disease

Dish of baby carrots
Westend61 / Getty Images

Carrots are root vegetables, and most people think that root vegetables are all high-carb vegetables. Some, like potatoes, are. However, even on a low-carb diet, you might want to decide to embrace carrots in moderate amounts since carrots are among the lowest-carb of the root vegetables and are packed with nutrients.

The nutrients in carrots, like carotenoids, which are found in orange vegetables, can give you a great nutritional boost.

Consider a sprinkling of grated carrots on a salad, for a good example.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Carrots

Carrots are lower in carbs than many low-sugar fruits, such as strawberries. There are other root vegetables, like turnips and radishes, which are on the lower end of the carbohydrate spectrum.

Carrot preparationsCarb and calorie counts
1/2 cup chopped raw carrot4 grams net carbs, 2 grams fiber, and 26 calories
1 medium baby carrot (about 3 per oz)1 gram net carb and 4 calories
2 oz (56 grams) raw baby carrots3 grams net carbs, 2 grams fiber, and 20 calories
1/2 cup cooked sliced carrots4 grams net carbs, 2 grams fiber and 27 calories

Glycemic Index for Carrots

The glycemic index of a food is an indicator of how much and how fast a food raises your blood sugar. The studies on the glycemic index of carrots have wildly varied results. The international tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values give boiled carrots a glycemic index of 39.

Carrots have had a bad glycemic reputation, because of one study that showed carrots had a glycemic index of 92. The carrots were most likely cooked carrots. A study of raw carrots came up with a glycemic index of 16, and two other studies of cooked carrots showed a glycemic index of 32 and 49, leading to the lower accepted values.

It safe to say that raw carrots most likely have a lower glycemic index than cooked ones.

Glycemic Load of Carrots

The glycemic load of a food is related to the glycemic index but takes serving size into account. A glycemic load of one is the equivalent of eating 1 gram of glucose. Since the computation of the glycemic load is based on the index, it is somewhat difficult to assign a glycemic load to carrots.

Glycemic load of carrots

1/2 cup chopped raw carrots: 1

1 medium baby carrot (about 3 per oz): 0
2 oz (56 grams) raw baby carrot: 1
1/2 cup cooked sliced carrots: 2

Health Benefits of Carrots

To say that carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and alpha and beta carotene is to understate the situation. You can get a whole day's supply of vitamin A from 1/4 cup of grated carrot, which is a little more than an ounce of carrots. Carrots are also a very good source of vitamin K and a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and have a fair source of other micronutrients.

Diets high in carotenoids have been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and some cancers, and may also improve glucose metabolism, lower insulin resistance, and provide other health benefits.

Low-Carb Recipes with Carrots

There are plenty of ways to enjoy carrots on a low-carb diet, soups like rainbow soup, which features foods from many colors of the rainbow, and chicken vegetable soup is a good example of healthy, nutrient-packed types of meals that will not break the carb bank.


Continue Reading