Juices. They come from fresh fruit and vegetables, so they're healthy, right?
This is the common assumption. But…juicing isn't really all it's cracked up to be.
Here we cover carrot juice and diabetes, the facts, myths, truths and research. By the time you finish reading this, you'll know the facts so you can make a more informed decision about consuming carrot juice in your diet.
We've written about carrots before over here.
Here at Diabetes Meal Plans we encourage a lower carb diet and sometimes low carbers say “carrots aren’t low carb.” While they aren’t the lowest carb food, they do have lots of nutritional benefits and in our opinion it’s perfectly fine to eat carrots on a regular basis – whole carrots that is – carrot juice on the other hand. Well, keep on reading…
Carrots contain many beneficial vitamins, minerals and compounds that support health. And, even though they are higher in carbs than other vegetables, they aren't so high that they are worth eliminating all together.
Here's a great nutrition infographic from Dr. Axe.
While the above nutrition looks promising, and is if you're eating whole carrots. This is NOT the case for carrot juice.
Carrot and Carrot Juice Comparison
Myths and Truths
Did you pick up on a few differences in the above comparison?
Take a look again and note the difference in calories, total carbs, dietary fiber, and sugar content.
Calories: Even though the two measurements above are for 1 cup of carrots or carrot juice, the juice is almost double the calories. This is obviously because it requires more carrots in volume to make juice than it does to eat them raw. But this is something many people don't take into consideration.
Total carbs: When you juice any fruit or vegetable it usually doubles the carbohydrate content. As a diabetic, this can be problematic because the more carbs you consume, the higher your blood sugar levels and A1C.
Dietary fiber: The fiber component of most plants is what creates it’s structure. When you juice the plant you discard it’s structure and are left with the juice, where the fiber is always reduced. As a diabetic, fiber aids digestion and helps slow the release of carbohydrates. Most people need more of it, not less. Fiber is also very important to help your brain register feeling-of-fullness hormones. When you eat the food, you need to chew, which helps hormonal signals and appetite. When you drink, you don't get these signals as readily, which can affect metabolism.
Sugars: Juicing fruits and vegetables increases the sugar content.
Although juicing may be okay on the odd occasion, you're probably starting to see that eating food is better than drinking it. It's also important to be aware, that juicing can produce microorganisms that are hazardous to health as well, especially when they aren't consumed straight away.
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Research on Carrot Juice and Diabetes
One study in diabetic rats did show that fermented carrot juice blended with a probiotic helped regulate blood glucose levels. Note, it was fermented, which also creates natural probiotics, therefore, it's difficult to say if it was the carrot juice or the probiotics. I'd say it was more likely the probiotics, as it is now well known that gut health and the gut bacteria play a critical role in our health, and in type 2 diabetes.
Another study in rats showed that carrot juice did help to reduce free fatty acids and inflammatory molecules in rats fed a high fructose (sugar) diet. Reducing chronic inflammation in the bodies cells is very important as it's also been linked to the development of disease.
Other than those two studies, there has been no research performed in humans. Therefore, there really is no evidence to suggest carrot juice is beneficial for diabetics.
Given the nutrition comparison, it's safe to say that drinking 22 g carbohydrates in one cup of carrot juice, is likely going to send your blood sugar soaring, just as any sugary drink would.
Is Carrot Juice Good for Diabetics?
Overall, not really.
While carrot juice may be okay if consumed in small portions, or it may make a great addition for cooking purposes, eating a whole carrot is far better for your health.
There are lots of misconceptions about juicing. Hopefully this info has opened your eyes to a few of them.
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