If there's one vegetable I don't mind eating raw, it's carrots. Needless to say, though, carrots along with peas are one of the vegetables people are generally told to limit or eliminate if following a low-carb diet, but what about keto?
Are carrots keto-friendly? While carrots aren't the most keto-friendly vegetable, you may still eat carrots but in moderation by making them fit within your carbohydrate allotment.
In this article, I'll go over like carrots may or may not be keto-friendly, the benefits of carrots you may not have thought of,
Are Carrots Keto Friendly
People are quick to dismiss carrots as being keto-friendly, but two small to medium carrots (100 grams) only have around 10 g of carbohydrates, of which three of them come from fiber, leaving 7 grams of net carbs.
So I guess you can say they aren't the most low-carb vegetable, but you can fit them in on a well planned ketogenic diet.
The real trick is limiting yourself to just one or two servings.
Like most vegetables, carrots are mainly water, some starch, and some sugar. Carrots rank low on the glycemic index, ranging from 16 to 60 depending on whether they are cooked or raw, with raw being lower G.I. than cooked.
While you may not be able to fit in a full bowl of carrots or load your salads with handfuls of shredded carrots, you can fit in carrots on a ketogenic diet.
You'd be surprised at what 100 grams of baby snack carrots looks like, the perfect amount as a side dish or a mini snack.
The Benefits Of Carrots
Aside from being delicious and filling, carrots have a host of benefits that you may want to consider.
Carrots have both soluble and insoluble fibers.
Soluble fibers may lead to improved health and linked to less cardiovascular disease and increased gut health.1 Also, insoluble fibers may help reduce the risk of constipation that some experience when following a ketogenic diet.2
Vitamins and minerals
Carrots are a good source of vitamins and minerals, especially:
- Vitamin A (beta carotene)
Beta carotene must be converted into vitamin A in your body. Studies have shown that eating fat with carrots may help absorb more of the beta carotene.3
Another great source of vitamin A is the nopales cactus which is keto friendly.
And we all know there's no shortage of fat on a ketogenic diet to help with that absorption.
Other plant compounds within carrots
Aside from carotenoids, carrots are full of powerful antioxidants linked to improving immune function, and a reduction of various illnesses.
The main plant compounds in carrots are:
- Beta carotene
- Lutein: Important for eye health, lutein is found in both yellow and orange carrots.4
- Lycopene: Usually associated with tomatoes, but red and purple carrots are rich in lycopene, which may decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease.5
- Polyacetylenes: These are bioactive compounds in carrots that may help protect against diseases such as leukemia and certain cancers.678
- Anthocyanins: Antioxidant found primarily in darker colored carrots
Reduced cancer risk
Diets rich in carotenoids, the plant pigments that give carrots and other vegetables and fruits their color, may help protect against different types of cancer.
Additionally, high circulating levels of carotenoids are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.12
Cholesterol has gotten a bad reputation, but there is so much we have yet to understand about cholesterol. That being said, including carrots in the diet has been linked to lower cholesterol levels.1314
I suggest giving David Feldmens blog Cholesterol Code a read to learn more about cholesterol, especially if following a ketogenic diet.
A common problem people experience when starting a ketogenic diet is dry eyes.
Those who have lower levels of vitamin A are more likely to experience night blindness. Cartenoids may also reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.1516
Aside from carrots, animal liver and egg yolks are excellent sources of vitamin A.
Helps get rid of endotoxins?
What are endotoxins exactly? Endotoxins are formed when enough harmful bacteria outnumber the good bacteria. The build-up of toxins within our guts are shown to cause certain hormone imbalances, such as that of the thyroid and even estrogen balance.17181920
Raw carrots have a unique fiber that binds with these endotoxins.
“These fibers prevent the reabsorption of estrogen in the intestine, and can shift the balance away from cortisol and estrogen, toward progesterone and thyroid, in just a few days of regular use,” – Ray Peat
All disease begins in the gut. – Hippocrates
Help with weight loss
Carrots are a great low-calorie, high-volume food. Carrots are perfect for helping increase fullness while simultaneously decreasing calorie intake.21
Additional Carrot Knowledge
Organic vs. Non-Organic
Studies comparing organic vs non-organic carrots failed to see any difference in the amount of carotenoids or antioxidants.222324
If you're on a tight budget and don't mind non-organic produce, stick with conventionally grown carrots. Of course, if you have the means to afford organic food, then, by all means, choose organic.
Carrots have been known to cause certain people's mouth to tingle or itch. This tingle or itch is usually due to a pollen-related allergic reaction.25
If you have a sensitivity to birch pollen or mugwort pollen, then carrots may cause you an allergic reaction.
Baby carrots vs. “regular” carrots
Both baby and regular carrots have the same nutrition. Although, particular carrots sold as baby carrots are just pieces cut from larger carrots into a smaller size, peeled, and then polished.
Only 10% of a carrot consists of carbohydrates. One hundred grams of carrots will leave you with 10 grams of carbohydrates, but with 3 of them coming from fiber, and leaving you with 7 grams of net carbs.
Carrots can be a great snack or side dish to help fill you up, with the benefit of being tasty and being rich in vitamins and minerals.
Just be mindful of the number of carbohydrates and make sure to add them to your total net carbs for the day.