The Glycemic Index of Carrots

A bunch of fresh carrots.
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If you are a diabetic or a dieter who is familiar with low-carbohydrate dieting, you might be familiar with the glycemic index. You probably know that vegetables such as carrots are "good" for you. Whether you eat carrots on a daily basis or are thinking about eating them for health benefits, you might be curious what their glycemic index is and how your body reacts to them.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index may appear confusing upon first glance, but it is actually quite useful and easy to understand. The glycemic index is a numerical scale that ranks foods and beverages on their potential to raise your blood sugar and your insulin levels. Foods and beverages that rank above 70 are considered "high GI" foods and are likely to raise your blood sugar rapidly. Foods and beverages that fall below 55 on the scale are considered "low GI" foods and are not likely to raise your blood sugar quickly or any sizable amount.


GI of Carrots

Unlike some foods, the glycemic index of carrots can vary to a fairly significant degree. According to Harvard Medical School, carrots have a glycemic index ranking of 47, plus or minus 16. There are many factors that go into determining the glycemic index ranking of a food, including how much the food is cooked and how much the food is processed. Cooked carrots, for instance, have a glycemic index of 39. Fresh 100-percent carrot juice has a glycemic index of 45. Canned carrots that have been processed would likely be among the higher GI types of carrots.


Glycemic Load

Dr. Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., a clinical nutrition specialist and author of the book "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth," suggests that you should absolutely not let the glycemic index of carrots deter you from eating them, even if you are on a diet. Bowden explains that glycemic load, rather than the glycemic index, is a far more significant measuring stick for how a food affects your blood sugar and insulin levels. Dr. Bowden points out that carrots have a glycemic load of 3, which he calls "ridiculously low." Despite the low-to-moderate glycemic index rating, carrots are very unlikely to significantly affect your blood sugar. If you are a diabetic, please talk to your doctor if you have not been eating carrots and wish to add them to your diet.


Health Benefits

Bowden regards carrots among the very healthiest foods you can eat, saying carrots contain very powerful antioxidants called carotenoids. Carrots contain alpha-carotene. You have probably heard of beta-carotene, but alpha-carotene may actually be more powerful and useful to inhibit the growth and formation of tumors, according to Bowden and biochemist Michiaki Murakoshi. Three medium-sized carrots contain 60 mg of calcium, 586 mg of potassium, 5 g of dietary fiber and 30,000 IUs of vitamin A, six times more than your daily recommended allowance. Not to worry, exceeding your RDA for vitamin A by eating carrots is not harmful. Carrots also contain magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin C.