Like potatoes, carrots are one of the starchier root vegetables that are higher in carbohydrates and sugar than most. It is true that carrots are a healthy vegetable that provides your body with a good dose of beta-carotene, among other nutrients, but they walk a fine line when it comes to being a Keto-friendly food.
How many carbs are in carrots? There are 6 grams of carbs in a whole medium carrot. A full cup of chopped carrots contains 12 grams of carbs.
On a strict Keto diet aiming to keep carbs below 20 grams per day, you may choose to avoid carrots completely. However, they can be eaten in moderation on more liberal low carb diets that aim for 50-100 grams of carbs per day. In this case, a half-cup serving of carrots containing 6 grams of carbs is a good portion size, either eaten as a snack or as part of a larger meal.
There are other root vegetables that are low in carbs, which can be substituted for carrots; like turnips, radishes, and onions. These can all be roasted in much the same way as carrots. Or roast them together with carrots, so you won’t need to use as many – a great trick to eat less carrots, while filling up on more of the lower carb root veggies.
How Many Calories are in Carrots?
There are only 25 calories in a whole medium carrot. A full cup of chopped carrots contains 50 calories. Carrots are a popular weight-management food eaten on most diets (apart from Keto) because of their low calorie count and satiating fiber content.
Are Carrots Keto-Friendly?
It may be essential to limit starchy, sugary vegetables (like carrots) as well as fruits while on a very low-carb, ketogenic diet. But this does not mean that there is anything wrong with these foods.
People tend to see things in black and white – either a food is “good” or “bad”, but in nutrition, everything truly depends on context.
“Healthy” can be a relative term. While it may be healthy for one person who is used to living on a fast food diet to replace some of the junk food they eat with a few carrot sticks or a piece of fruit… It could be unhealthy for a diabetic managing their symptoms on a Ketogenic diet to eat the same amount of starchy carrots or sugary fruit, as this may carry too high of a glycemic load for their condition.
Individuals following the Keto diet for weight-loss reasons, may choose to enjoy a small amount of carrots. One medium carrot (roughly half-cup of chopped carrots) contains 6 grams of carbs. You can enjoy these cooked or raw, as a side dish in meals, cut into sticks for a crunchy snack or grated on top of salads.
Interesting Facts About Carrots
- Carrots are a domesticated form of the wild carrot, named Daucus Carota.
- Wild carrots are indigenous to Europe, North Africa, and Asia.
- While the carrot is known as a bright orange root crop, the original carrots grown centuries ago in Central Asia were purple and yellow.
- The plant is believed to have originated in Persia and was originally cultivated for its leaves and seeds.
- One medium carrot accounts for a full serving of vegetables.
- Carrots are higher in natural sugar than all other vegetables, except beets.
The Truth About Baby Carrots
Don’t be fooled by the baby carrot farce. A “baby carrot” isn’t exactly a baby carrot. Baby carrots come from large, mature carrots that has been mechanically cut and then tossed around inside a metal cage to be rubbed down into short, rounded pieces. Some people purchase baby carrots for the convenience factor, but they are really buying “baby cut” carrots, and not actual baby carrots.
Real baby carrots are picked before the point of maturity. They’re long and thin and usually have their green tops left on. Some people prefer them because they taste sweeter.
Don’t be fooled, real baby carrots are not the short, peeled and rounded kind that you see in packages. Not only are they more expensive, those perfect-looking baby-cut carrots were once the gnarly mature carrots that were too misshapen to sell. They have merely been reformed into a mini-size “baby” shape to prevent food waste.
Caution! Those fake, packaged “baby carrots” (baby-cut carrots) with their protective peel removed, might even be soaked in chlorine as a preservative! Unfortunately, some corporations seem to be more interested in extending the shelf life of their food products, than in consumers’ health.
Health Benefits of Carrots
- Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a nutrient that is important for eyesight, skin health, and normal growth.
- Our bodies turn beta-carotene into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for good health, especially for your eyes. Carrots are one of the best sources of vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for your bones, teeth, vision, and your skin.
- Carrots are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K1, potassium, vitamin B6, folate, and a variety minerals like calcium and magnesium.
- Carrots have a higher natural sugar content than all other vegetables, with the exception of beets.
- Carrots are rich in antioxidants that help rid the body of free radicals and toxins.
- Carrots are touted as a weight-loss food and have been linked to lower cholesterol levels as well as improved eye health.
- Carrots are a good source of fiber, promoting a well-funtioning digestive system.
Types of Carrots
Orange carrots are typically the carrots we are most familiar with, they’re a great source of beta-carotene. Carrots contain a group of plant pigments called carotenoids, and beta-carotene is a member of this group. These plant pigments were first identified in carrots and therefore their name was derived from the word carrot.
Yellow carrots contain xanthophykks and lutein. Xanthophylls is a plant based nutrient that has numerous health benefits in humans. Yellow carrots contain the same amount of carbs as orange carrots.
Red/Purple carrots contain purple pigments called anthocyanins, which act as anti-oxidants that protect the body. Purple carrots derive their color from anthocyanin. Those bright red and purple pigments are powerful antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and reduce the risk of certain diseases. Compared to orange carrots, purple carrots contain twice as much alpha- and beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A. Purple carrots contain the same amount of carbs as orange carrots. A 100 gram serving of purple carrots is 10 grams of carbs. That works out to 6 grams of carbs for a medium purple carrot.
Parsnips, the carrot’s colorless cousin, have twice the carbs of carrots. A cup of chopped parsnips contains a whopping 24 grams of carbs! Did you know that parsnips have an even higher glycemic load than potatoes? It’s true. So avoid them while following the Keto diet or incorporate only a small amount into your dishes.
Whether eaten raw, boiled, steamed, stir-fried or roasted, carrots can be enjoyed a number of ways.
- Place cut carrots in 1/2-inch of water with butter and salt. (Some people add sugar to the water to sweeten the carrots. Avoid doing this to save on carbs.
- Bring water to a boil, cover pan, and reduce heat to simmer.
- Steam carrots 7 or 8 minutes until tender.
- Boil peeled and chopped carrots in a covered pot in enough salted water to cover the carrots. Do not add sugar to the boiling water.
- Cook carrots uncovered on medium-high heat until crisp-tender for 7 to 9 minutes for 1/4-inch slices.
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Place the whole carrots into a baking dish, and drizzle with olive oil. Mix until the carrots are completely covered with olive oil.
- Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, about 40 minutes to 1 hour.
- Turn up the heat for this sizzling method.
- Stir-frying is a fast and fresh way to cook.
- Simply toss and turn bite-sized pieces of carrots (along with other veggies) in a little hot oil in a wok over high heat for five minutes or less. Don’t overcook. A good stir-fry should have a crisp bite and veggies should remain bright in color.
Low Carb Root Veggies like onions, turnips, radishes, fennel, celery, ginger and garlic are much lower carb root vegetables that can be safely enjoyed raw or cooked while following a low carb diet, like Keto.
Leafy Green Veggies have the fewest carbohydrates and the lowest impact on blood sugar levels. They’re rich in fiber and digests slowly to keep you feeling satiated. Dark leafy greens are also rich in vitamin K.
Low Carb Roasted Root Veggies Recipe
Mixed roasted veggies are a great way to limit your carrot portion because you only need to use a small amount of carrots, since you are using other low carb root veggies as well.
Roasting Instructions in 3 Easy Steps:
- Cut up 1 medium carrot, 1/3 turnip, a few radishes and a small white onion into large chunks. (Make sure to keep all your veggie slices roughly the same size so they’ll be uniformly cooked.)
- Simply place the cut up root veggies on a baking tray, drizzle in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Smash and throw in a clove or two of garlic if you wish for extra flavour and then roast in the oven on a high heat for about 45 minutes.
This dish makes 2 servings to be enjoyed alongside a serving of protein.