Can Carrots Raise Your Blood Sugar?

Bowl of carrots, studio shot
Nonstarchy vegetables don't usually cause large increases in blood sugar. (Image: Howard Shooter/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images)

Carrots are a nutrient-rich vegetable, providing significant amounts of fiber, potassium and vitamins A, C and K. They also contain carbohydrates, making it possible for them to raise your blood sugar levels. Carrots, however, aren't likely to cause large spikes in blood sugar if you eat them in moderation due to their low glycemic index and glycemic load.

Carbohydrate Content

A cup of raw carrot slices contains 11.7 grams of carbohydrates, and the same amount of cooked carrot slices has 12.8 grams of carbohydrates. This is just a little less than the 15 grams of carbohydrates that make up one serving of carbohydrates for a diabetic. Diabetics usually limit their carbohydrates to 45 to 60 grams per meal to help maintain the proper blood sugar levels.

Glycemic Index

You can use the glycemic index to estimate how a particular food will affect your blood sugar levels. Foods with a score below 55 are considered low on this scale and unlikely to cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. Boiled carrots have a GI between 32 and 49, while raw carrots have a much a much lower score of about 16. The longer you cook foods, the higher the GI is likely to be.

Glycemic Load

The glycemic load takes into account not only the glycemic index of a food but its typical serving size as well, making it an even better indicator of the potential effect of a food on your blood sugar levels. Any score under 10 is considered low; boiled carrots have a glycemic load between 1 and 2, and raw carrots have a score of just 1. This low GL may be partly due to the relatively high fiber content found in carrots, since foods higher in fiber tend to have less of an effect on blood sugar.

Other Considerations

Whether you cook your carrots, how you cook them, how long you cook them and what foods you eat with them will all affect the overall glycemic index and load of your meal. Pickled carrots have a lower GI due to the added acidity, but glazed carrots will have a higher GI due to the added sugar. Eating a low-GI food, such as carrots, as part of a meal containing a food higher on the glycemic index, such as rice or pasta, helps lower the overall effect of your meal on your blood sugar levels.

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