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Do carrots turn into sugar in your body?

Carrots are nutritious root vegetables that are commonly eaten raw or cooked. Many people believe that carrots get turned into sugar in your body, leading to spikes in blood sugar and insulin. This article examines whether this popular belief is true.

Do carrots contain sugar?

Carrots contain several types of sugars, including glucose, fructose, sucrose, and starch.

A medium raw carrot (61 grams) contains about:

  • 3.4 grams of sugar
  • 1.7 grams of glucose
  • 1.2 grams of fructose
  • 0.4 grams of sucrose
  • 0.7 grams of starch

For comparison, a medium apple contains about 11.4 grams of sugar, while a cup of grapes provides 15.8 grams of sugar.

So while carrots do naturally contain sugar, they are relatively low in sugar compared to many other fruits and vegetables.

Are carrots high glycemic?

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that ranks foods based on how slowly or quickly they spike blood sugar levels.

Low glycemic foods have a GI value under 55, while high glycemic foods exceed 70 on the GI scale.

Most carrots have a glycemic index of around 35-45. This makes them a low glycemic vegetable.

For example, raw carrots have a GI of 16, while cooked carrots rate at 39 on the glycemic index.

This means that carrots — raw or cooked — do not significantly impact blood sugar levels compared to high glycemic foods like potatoes, white rice, and white bread.

Glycemic index of carrots

Carrot type Glycemic index
Raw carrots 16
Cooked carrots 39
Canned carrots 43

As shown in the table above, all types of carrots are low glycemic foods.

Do carrots spike blood sugar?

Moderate portions of carrots only minimally impact blood sugar levels.

In one study, people with type 2 diabetes ate portions of carrots containing 50 grams of digestible carbohydrates. This resulted in blood sugar changes ranging from just 7–47 mg/dL, which is considered a low rise (1).

For comparison, eating 50 grams of pure table sugar would spike blood sugars up to about 180 mg/dL for people with diabetes.

What’s more, carrots are rich in fiber, containing over 3 grams per large raw carrot (72 grams).

Fiber slows digestion, helping minimize blood sugar spikes.

Overall, carrots do not significantly spike blood sugar levels, thanks to their low glycemic index, modest sugar content, and high fiber levels.

Do carrots trigger insulin release?

In healthy people, eating carrots only causes a slight bump in insulin levels.

One study in 16 people found that eating a meal with boiled carrots did not significantly increase insulin concentrations, compared to a meal without carrots (2).

Similarly, another study showed that giving people a carrot puree drink did not spike insulin nearly as much as a drink containing glucose, or pure sugar (3).

Taken together, evidence indicates carrots do not drive up insulin levels like high glycemic foods. Thus, carrots are unlikely to promote insulin resistance, even with regular intake.

Insulin index of select foods

Food Insulin index
Glucose (sugar) 100
Carrot juice 31
Cooked carrots 39
Banana 52

The table above displays the insulin index for carrots compared to glucose (sugar) and other foods. Carrots score very low on the insulin index scale, indicating they minimally impact insulin levels.

Can carrots raise blood sugar in diabetes?

In people with diabetes, carrots consumed in normal food amounts generally do not cause significant spikes in blood sugar.

One study gave over 200 people with type 2 diabetes a test meal containing 50 grams of carbohydrates from carrots. The carrots led to only minor changes in blood glucose, ranging from 7–47 mg/dL (1).

Another small study showed no difference in post-meal blood sugar levels between diabetes patients eating a meal with or without 75 grams of cooked carrots (4).

Additionally, research finds no association between eating more carotenoid-rich orange vegetables like carrots and blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes (5).

In short, evidence to date indicates carrots pose minimal concerns for diabetes patients when consumed in regular food amounts. Moderating portions and pairing carrots with protein, fat or fiber may further blunt any effects on blood sugar.

Do carrots get converted to sugar?

Carrots do contain natural sugars. However, the notion that carrots turn into sugar in your body is an oversimplification.

During digestion, carrots are broken down into glucose, fructose, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Glucose from carrots can enter the bloodstream and raise blood sugar levels slightly, but not to the extent of consuming pure sugar or other high glycemic foods.

Fructose from carrots gets metabolized by the liver. Eating carrots in normal amounts should not overload the liver or contribute to insulin resistance and fat accumulation.

Additionally, the fiber in carrots slows the digestion and absorption of sugars, preventing blood sugar spikes.

In summary, the naturally occurring sugars in carrots provide nutrients and energy for the body, but do not get released as pure sugar into the bloodstream.

Carrot digestion simplified

In mouth In stomach In intestines In liver
Carrots are chewed and broken down via saliva Carrots are further broken down by stomach acid Carrot nutrients get absorbed into bloodstream Excess fructose goes to liver

This table shows the basic digestive process for carrots in the body. Carrots get broken down and absorbed in the intestines and liver, not directly released as sugar.

Do carrots feed candida?

Candida albicans is a type of yeast that normally lives in the body. When it overgrows, it can lead to oral thrush, yeast infections and other issues.

Some sources claim carrots may worsen candida overgrowth. However, no evidence proves that carrots directly feed or contribute to candida issues.

In fact, carrots contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that may inhibit the growth of candida (6, 7).

Overall, carrots appear neutral or potentially beneficial regarding candida. People with candida issues tolerate carrots well as part of an anti-candida diet.

Can you eat too many carrots?

Carrots are very healthy and safe when eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, excessive intake could potentially cause adverse effects.

Downsides of eating too many carrots

  • May temporarily change skin color due to excess beta carotene.
  • Linked to higher carotenemia risk at extremely high doses (over 20 mg beta carotene per day).
  • Can be high in pesticide residues when not organic.
  • Contains oxalates, which may be an issue for those prone to kidney stones.
  • Has natural sugars that may be a problem for carb intolerances.

On the flip side, up to 5 servings (about 1 cup or 128 grams per day) of carrots is considered safe for most adults.

Children should limit intake based on calorie needs, such as 1–3 baby carrots (3–6 inches long) per day, on average.

Pregnant women should also stick to 1–2 servings daily.


  • Carrots naturally contain sugar, but are low glycemic and unlikely to spike blood sugar or insulin compared to many other foods.
  • Moderate portions of carrots typically do not raise blood sugar levels in people with or without diabetes.
  • Carrots do not automatically turn into sugar in the body, but rather break down into nutrients that provide energy.
  • Eating carrots in normal food amounts appears safe and healthy for most people.

The bottom line

Carrots are nutritious, low glycemic vegetables that pose little concern for blood sugar control or candida overgrowth for most people.

While carrots contain natural sugars, they do not spike blood sugar as high or as quickly compared to many other foods. The notion that “carrots turn into sugar” is not entirely accurate.

Carrots can be enjoyed regularly as part of a healthy diet, but moderating your portions is wise, as with any food.