Carrot Carbohydrates and Nutrition on a Low-Carb Diet

Carrot Carbs, Glycemic Index, Nutritional Information

Organic carrots
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Since carrots are root vegetables, people on low-carb diets often stay away from them. However, you might decide to embrace carrots in moderate amounts for these reasons:

1. Carrots are among the lowest-carb root vegetables. They are lower in carbs than many low-sugar fruits, such as strawberries.

2. Carrots are just packed with nutrients, including the valuable carotenoids. Even just a sprinkling of grated carrots on a salad can provide a real nutrient boost.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Carrots

Glycemic Index for Carrots

The studies on the glycemic index of carrots have wildly varied results. The 2008 International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load give boiled carrots a GI of 39. Carrots got a bad glycemic reputation, because of one study of (probably cooked) carrots that showed a GI of 92. A study of raw carrots, however, came up with a GI of 16, and two other studies of cooked carrots showed GIs of 32 and 49, leading to the lower accepted values.

It's probably safe to say that raw carrots have a lower GI than cooked ones. 

The glycemic index is an indicator of how much and how fast a food raises your blood sugar. Learn more information about the glycemic index of various foods.

Glycemic Load of Carrots

Since the computation of the glycemic load is based on the index, it is probably also difficult to assign a glycemic load to carrots.

These, though, are commonly used numbers:

  • 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

The glycemic load 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. Learn more information about the glycemic load.

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 over 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

If you wonder how to enjoy carrots on a low-carb diet, try these soup recipes to start:

  • Rainbow Soup: Eat most of the colors of the rainbow in this healthy low-carb soup.

Sources:

Atkinson FS, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller JC. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2281-2283. doi:10.2337/dc08-1239. 

Donaldson, MS. A Carotenoid Health Index Based on Plasma Carotenoid and Health Outcomes. Nutrients. 2011 Dec. 3(12): 1003-1022.

USDA Food Composition Database. USDA. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/.

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