The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing. Because of that, many people want to know how they can reduce their risk.
While there is no sure-fire way to prevent type 2 diabetes, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help reduce your likelihood of developing this chronic disease.
It can be overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to healthy eating.
Diets have come and gone in popularity, and there are thousands of books touting a diet that will cure all of your ailments. Because of the information overload, it might be difficult to know where to start.
Eating fruits and vegetables is one piece of advice that has stood the test of time. Not only can eating a plant-based diet reduce your risk of diabetes, but people who eat more plants tend to have a lower risk of chronic diseases altogether.
Some plant-based foods, such as carrots, may also help prevent type 2 diabetes – along with scientific evidence to back it.
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Could carrots help prevent type 2 diabetes?
When it comes to carrots and diabetes, there is some scientific evidence that eating carrots may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. While some people think carrots are a starchy vegetable, they’re considered a nonstarchy vegetable.
Nonstarchy vegetables are beneficial for blood glucose (blood sugar) levels because they don’t spike your levels. Carrots have a low glycemic index, which means they won’t raise blood glucose levels as significantly as higher glycemic index value foods like bread and potatoes.
There are some promising scientific studies on the topic of carrots and diabetes prevention.
One study concluded that beta carotene, a nutrient abundant in carrots, can favorably alter a gene mutation that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. According to that study, people with higher blood levels of beta carotene have lower type 2 diabetes risk.
Another study also found that higher levels of beta carotene can help fight insulin resistance, the main cause of type 2 diabetes. Beta carotene is also called provitamin A because it helps the body make vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency may also play a role in developing diabetes, according to research.
In addition, a study on rats found that carrot juice improved blood sugar and insulin levels. Diets rich in plant-based foods such as carrots are highly beneficial for preventing (and treating) type 2 diabetes, with numerous studies to back this correlation.
6 benefits of carrots
1) Low glycemic index
As we mentioned earlier, carrots are considered a low glycemic index food. Diets rich in low glycemic index foods can reduce the risk of heart disease.
They can also increase satiety after eating, which can help with weight management. Low glycemic index foods are beneficial for blood glucose levels, benefiting diabetic and non-diabetic people alike.
2) Rich in carotenoids
Carotenoids are pigments that both plants and algae produce. Carotenoids give carrots and other orange vegetables their color.
Beta carotene is a type of carotenoid and can help fight inflammation. There is an inverse relationship between beta carotene and markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein and white blood cell count. Many of today’s most common chronic diseases are linked with inflammation, including diabetes.
3) Low in carbohydrates
Many diabetic people prefer to choose lower-carbohydrate foods to help manage their blood glucose levels. Per one-half cup serving, carrots only contain six grams of carbohydrates, two of which are fiber.
Fiber doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, so many people choose to subtract the fiber from the total carbohydrate count. This is called the net carbohydrate content and is the amount that would impact blood sugar levels. Carrots have four grams of net carbohydrates per serving, which is considered very low.
4) Rich in vitamin C
Vitamin C is beneficial for immune health, wound healing, and skin health. It also helps your body absorb iron, helping to prevent anemia. One cup of sliced carrots provides 12% of the daily value for vitamin C.
5) Vision health
The antioxidants beta carotene and lutein in carrots promote eye health and can protect against eye diseases like macular degeneration. People with diabetes are more prone to vision problems, so promoting good eye health is especially important.
6) A good source of fiber
Carrots contain two grams of fiber per serving, which is almost 10% of the daily recommended amount. Diets rich in fiber can help reduce levels of LDL “bad’ cholesterol, which is one of many risk factors for developing heart disease. Fiber can also promote good digestion, improve blood sugar levels, and promote better insulin sensitivity.
Other ways to prevent type 2 diabetes
Eating a healthy diet is one of many ways to help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Some other things to consider include:
Being physically active
Engaging in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week can help improve insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels. Resistance training is also helpful through boosting muscle, which can take up more glucose during exercise.
Being physically active can reduce blood glucose levels for up to 24 hours afterward, which is why being active consistently is so beneficial.
Being overweight is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
In a study, people who made intensive lifestyle changes and lost 7% of their starting body weight reduced their diabetes risk by 58%.
Cutting back on sugary drinks
Sugar-sweetened beverages are a leading contributor of added sugar. Sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and flavored coffees are just a few examples of sugar-sweetened beverages.
In a study, people who consumed 1-2 sugary drinks per day had a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely drank them.
The American Heart Association recommends keeping your added sugar intake to less than 25 grams per day for women and less than 36 grams per day for men.
For reference, a 12-ounce can of soda provides 39 grams of added sugar, which exceeds the daily recommended amount.
Prediabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are slightly high but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Having prediabetes significantly increases the likelihood of developing diabetes.
Prediabetes is reversible, but many people don’t know they have it until it’s progressed too far.
A simple blood test called the hemoglobin A1c can help screen for prediabetes.
Diabetes screening is often covered by insurance as part of preventive health visits, especially if you’re over 45 or have other risk factors.
Avoid crash dieting
As tempting as they can be, fad diets usually don’t result in long-term weight loss. In fact, people who follow restrictive diets tend to re-gain more weight than they lost while on fad diets. In a meta-analysis of 29 long-term studies, 80% of people who had lost weight regained it after five years.
There may be a specific link between carrots and reduced diabetes risk, and there is plenty of research to promote the benefits of a diet rich in plant-based foods like carrots.
Not only can carrots help promote healthy blood glucose levels, but they also have several other benefits. Carrots are a low-glycemic and low-carbohydrate food, contain antioxidants, and are rich in fiber. The beta carotene in carrots can also promote good eye health.
Considering all of the health benefits carrots have to offer, there are several reasons for you to add them to your grocery list.