Chronic, long-term diabetes develops when the pancreas cannot release enough insulin, or the body fails to use the insulin produced effectively. As a result, it leads to abnormal glucose levels in the blood. Therefore, following a healthy diet is critical for anyone diagnosed with prediabetes, type1 or type 2 diabetes.
The most accepted food group when it comes to diabetes is probably vegetables. And you may wonder if brightly coloured root vegetables, such as carrots, are safe to eat in large quantities. Or could they lead to a big blood sugar spike? So let’s see what role carrots play in the diet of people with diabetes.
Carrots for Diabetes: Good or Bad?
Carrots are well known for containing beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. They also contain antioxidants, fibre, and other nutrients. In addition, it is a non-starchy root vegetable with a low glycemic index (GI).
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a numerical rating scale that ranks foods and beverages on how likely they can raise blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods and drinks above 70 are considered “high GI” foods and are likely to increase your blood sugar rapidly. Carrots have a low glycemic index (below 55), which makes them ideal for people with diabetes.
Moreover, for patients with diabetes, it is essential to pay attention to the carbohydrate content in food. For example, a medium carrot contains only about 4-6 grams of carbs. Additionally, studies suggest that the nutrients in carrots may help people with diabetes as it aids in minimising post-meal glucose spikes.
Raw carrots are safe and suitable for diabetes for several reasons.
They are rich in essential nutrients, including vitamin A. Diabetic individuals are at greater risk for developing eye problems, including diabetic retinopathy. As carrots are rich in vitamin A, experts claim that carrots are good for preventing diabetic retinopathy.
It is no secret that dietary fibre consumption is vital to blood glucose control in diabetes. Various studies have indicated that dietary fibre aids in reducing fasting and chronic blood glucose levels. Carrots are an excellent source of dietary fibre, compensating for the presence of their naturally sweet flavour.
Effects of Carrots on Blood Glucose Levels
Diabetes treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels. Despite their sweet flavour, carrots are a good choice for people with diabetes and can be eaten regularly in moderation. However, consuming half a carrot or 37-45 grams is advised to achieve positive outcomes. Managing portion sizes of all foods consumed can help control diabetes and its complications and maintain good health.
Evidence indicates that carrots’ beta-carotene protects against type 2 diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. Beta-carotene improves insulin resistance. Moreover, various positive effects are associated with its antioxidant capacity.
Beta-carotene can alter how lipids and carbohydrates get metabolised. It enhances the function of the β-pancreatic cells and improves hyperglycemia conditions. Insulin production gets stimulated, lipidic metabolism gets managed, and oxidative and inflammatory stress reduces with the regulation of the functions of the β-pancreatic cells. Studies also show that β-carotene supplementation is helpful for the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The daily consumption of carotenoid sources, like carrots, effectively reduced the incidence of T2DM over long periods.
The HealthifyMe Note
Carrots are high in dietary fibre and have a lower glycemic index than other root vegetables like potatoes. They’re also non-starchy vegetables and can be a safe choice for people with diabetes. In addition, carrots’ carotenoids and vitamin A protect your eyes from diabetes-related eye problems, such as diabetic retinopathy.
Raw Carrots or Cooked Carrots for Diabetes?
Raw carrots are healthier for diabetes than cooked ones, and you can eat them regularly. These raw carrots have a lower glycemic index (16) than cooked carrots (32-49), meaning they won’t cause blood sugar levels to spike as much. Moreover, cooking makes carbohydrates in the food easily available for the body to absorb. So you can eat raw carrots as a healthy snack without worrying about your blood sugar levels.
Non-starchy vegetables like carrots make the ideal addition to a nutritious diabetic diet plan. Carrots include all the essential components required for a balanced diet.
Some diabetic-friendly snacks include raw carrot salad, baked carrots, carrot soup, or baby carrots baked and tossed with olive oil. However, raw carrots have the most negligible glycemic load than cooked ones. So, choose raw carrots often because they do not impact blood sugar levels.
Moderation paves the way for a healthy and happy lifestyle. For example, consuming too many carrots can cause vitamin A overdose, carotenemia (which makes our skin appear yellow), and constipation. But, of course, you can always speak with a nutritionist at HealthifyMe for more guidance on controlling blood sugar levels through diet.