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Are Carrots a Good Diet Food?

by
author image Karen Curley
Karen Curley has more than 18 years experience in health and nutrition, specializing in healthy food choices for families. She received USDA certification in food components, nutrient sources, food groups and infant/child nutrition, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts. Curley is also an avid gardener, home renovator, Collie breeder, dog groomer and dog trainer.
Are Carrots a Good Diet Food?
Carrots are a low-calorie snack for dieting. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Whether you follow a low-carbohydrate diet, gluten-free diet, low-fat diet or a low-calorie diet, carrots can be part of your meal plan. Carrots provide your diet with the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is essential for producing vitamin A. This sweet, low-calorie vegetable also adds fiber and minerals to any diet plan.

Diet Plans

Most diet plans fall into one of two categories, either low-carbohydrate with high-protein intake or low-fat with high-carbohydrate intake, according to Boston University School of Medicine. These diets often fail over time because they restrict the types of foods you can eat, resulting in going back to old eating habits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends following a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, including orange vegetables like carrots, along with eating whole grains and low-fat dairy products. The USDA also suggests eating a variety of proteins, including seafood.

Low-Calorie Choice

One medium carrot contains 25 calories and 0.15 grams of fat. The American Heart Association recommends that a healthy diet consist of 25 percent to 35 percent fat -- 56 to 78 grams of fat per day in a 2,000-calorie diet plan. No more than 7 percent of this fat should be saturated. The scant fat in carrots is almost completely unsaturated, and carrots have zero cholesterol, making them a healthy choice for low-fat and low-calorie diets.

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Fiber and Carbohydrates

Fiber-rich foods help keep your blood-sugar levels under control and aid in lowering cholesterol. Fiber also helps you stay full longer, making it easier to stick to your diet. The recommended daily intake of fiber for women is about 25 grams, while men should have about 38 grams. One medium carrot provides you with almost 2 grams of fiber. People following gluten-free diets, who cannot eat whole grains like wheat and barley, can benefit from eating carrots as a healthy source of fiber. A medium carrot has about 6 grams of carbohydrates.

Vitamins and Minerals

Beta-carotene causes the deep orange pigments in carrots. These pigments change into vitamin A when eaten. One medium carrot has 509 micrograms of vitamin A, which is close to the full daily recommended intake of 700 micrograms. Vitamin A is essential for cognitive function, eye and skin health and may lower the risk of lung and prostate cancer. A medium carrot adds 20 milligrams of the 1,000-milligram recommended daily intake of calcium to your diet. Your body uses calcium to strengthen bones, help blood clotting and blood pressure maintenance. Traces of other minerals, such as potassium and phosphorous, are also present in carrots.

Serving Suggestions

Eat carrots raw or cooked, anytime of the day. You can eat a carrot as a standalone snack, add shredded carrots to garden salads or dice them up for stews and soups. Add carrots to your favorite smoothie. Steam, microwave, boil or quick-fry carrots for a side dish and add a few slivered almonds or raisins for additional nutrition.

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