Consuming Carrots Protect Your Retina – In this article, we explore the effects that carrots can have on blood sugar and describe the ways in which carrots can benefit the health of a person with diabetes.
We also look into the carrots’ glycemic index (GI) score, the most healthful way to prepare them, and other dietary tips for people with diabetes.
Should people with diabetes eat carrots?
Because carrots are a nonstarchy vegetable, people with diabetes can eat them freely, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
In fact, carrots may benefit people with diabetes because they contain the following compounds:
Carrots are a good source of carotenoids, a type of pigment.
In the diet, these compounds primarily occur in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
The pigment in a person’s eyes also contains carotenoids, and their antioxidant activity helps protect the retina from damage.
Some research suggests that carotenoids may be protective against diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that can lead to loss of vision, and it is a common complication of diabetes.
According to a 2015 study, diets that contain high levels of alpha and beta carotene may contribute to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Carrots are rich sources of these carotenes, containing 8,285 micrograms (mcg) of beta carotene and 3,477 mcg of alpha carotene per 100 grams (g).
Managing blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels is the primary goal of diabetes treatment. The total amount of carbohydrates that person consumes has a strong influence on these levels.
A medium raw carrot contains 5.84 g of carbohydrates. Although carrots are not necessarily low in carbohydrates, they are a healthful source.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, carbohydrates should make up 45% of the calorie intake for people with diabetes.
Counting carbs and keeping them within a healthful range can help a person regulate their blood sugar levels and thus prevent diabetes complications, which can include:
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- vision loss
According to a 2015 article in the journal Diabetes Management, low levels of vitamin A may be an independent risk factor for diabetes.
Another article, published the same year in Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders Drug Targets, warns that people with chronic diseases involving carbohydrate intake, such as diabetes, should be sure to consume enough vitamin A.
This may be especially good advice for people with type 1 diabetes, which causes T-cells in the body to attack insulin-producing beta cells.
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in the pancreas and in the production of these beta cells.
The vitamin also helps regulate immune functions, such as T-cell-mediated immunity, which may affect the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, containing 835 micrograms per 100g.
Eating more fiber can improve blood glucose levels and boost insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity, helping to combat diabetes.
People with diabetes should consume 20–35 g of fiber per day, from vegetables, fruits, and minimally processed grains.
Carrots contain 2.8 g of dietary fiber per 100 g.
What is the GI score of carrots?
The GI is a tool that measures how the carbohydrates in specific foods affect a person’s blood glucose levels.
A type of food with a high GI score will raise blood sugar levels more than a food with a low GI score.
The ADA consider foods with scores of 55 or under to have low GI scores. Boiled carrots have a GI score of 33, and raw carrots score even less.
The association recommends eating at least 3–5 servings of vegetables a day. One serving is about:
- ½ cup of cooked vegetables
- 1 cup of raw vegetables
Choosing nonstarchy fruits and vegetables, with GI scores of 55 or less, can help a person with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.
Other nonstarchy vegetables, which people with diabetes can eat freely, include:
- leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
- salad greens
- green beans and wax beans
- brussels sprouts
- cauliflower and broccoli
- summer squash