Carrots and Their Effect on Blood Sugar

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the amount of sugar in your blood. It comes from the food you eat. Your body needs it for energy, but too much can cause problems. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes or worsen your disease.

Carrots can be a safe choice if you have diabetes and are watching your blood sugar levels. They’re also non-starchy vegetables. So you can even enjoy small amounts of carrots if you’re following the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Glycemic Index

This measures how much some foods and drinks raise your blood sugar levels. It runs on a scale of 1 to 100. A score of 100 means the food has the same effect on your body as eating a type of sugar called glucose.

The lower the glycemic index (GI), the slower your blood sugar rises. Raw carrots have a GI of 16. The GI for boiled carrots ranges from 32 to 49. That puts carrots in the low glycemic food group:

  • Low glycemic index: 1-55
  • Medium glycemic index: 56-69
  • High glycemic index: 70 or higher

The glycemic index for any food will go up if you cook or prepare them with honey or other carbohydrates. Still, carrots are high in fiber, so that helps slow down how quickly they release the sugar. They also have a lower glycemic index than other root vegetables like potatoes.

Glycemic Load

The glycemic index isn’t the only number you should watch. Another is glycemic load. It combines the glycemic index with the serving size to give you a total picture of the effect on your blood sugar. Eating low glycemic index food but a lot of it will raise the glycemic load.

Two small raw carrots have a glycemic load of about 8. That also puts carrots in the low glycemic load group:

  • Low glycemic load: 1-10
  • Medium glycemic load: 11-19
  • High glycemic load: 20 or higher

Low Glycemic Index Vegetables

Fresh vegetables are mostly water. They also pack a lot of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. And many are low on the glycemic index, including:

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on May 06, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Diabetes Association: “Non-starchy vegetables,” “Blood sugar and insulin at work.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Glycemic index for 60+ foods.”

U.S Department of Agriculture: “Carrots, raw.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002.”

Kaiser Permanente: “Beta-carotene.”

Nutri-Facts: “Beta-carotene.”

New Hanover Regional Medical Center: “Low glycemic meal planning.”

University of California, San Francisco: “Glycemic index and glycemic load.”

Medline Plus: “Blood sugar.”

Consumer Reports: “Are carrots good for you?”

Mayo Clinic: “Is the keto diet for you? A Mayo expert weighs in,” “Glycemic index diet: What's behind the claims,” “Hyperglycemia in diabetes.”

Diabetes Care: “International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008.”

World’s Healthiest Foods: “Carrots.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.