Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What about the carrots?

It's fun to have dinner with smart people and fun to follow up on those discussions on social networking sites, or even better, at the next dinner.  Those social networking sites are also great ways for those of us who don't get to attend a dinner meet-up to get the scope on what people discussed.  I noticed that I missed a hot topic of discussion on the nature of the so called "baby carrots."  Are they chopped up big carrots or specially bred little carrots?  How are they cleaned?   The answer might be different than you think.

Fortunately one doesn't have to look too far to clear up this one as snopes.com does a nice job of clearing that one up.  In summary, the consumption of carrots did lead to a product called "baby cut" carrots that were made from larger ones, but this actually led to the development of another type of carrot bred to be smaller, sweeter, brighter in color (apparently easier to market to kids too).  And yes, they are sometimes treated with chlorine to get rid of microbes that could cause a food-borne illness and rinsed; use of chlorine in this manner has found to be safe except on websites like mercola.com that are known for their anti-science ways.

One of the problems that I have encountered in my dealings with people with diabetes and others who are trying to decrease their carb intake is that they will avoid carrots because they are "too high in sugar."   And of course my (snarky) answer tends to be "compared to what?"

As always, we are talking about amounts here.  Let's say that you are a not-so-well controlled diabetic trying to clean up your eating habits, and right now your carb intake is about 15 grams per meal.  By using the internet resources available to you, as you should, you see that even a large carrot only has 5 net grams of carbohydrate per carrot (and ~31 calories), and you can get several carrot sticks out of that.  Heck, you could even eat 3 large carrots if you wanted to chew that much, and you will would still be within your limit.  I personally would rather much on those carrots than eat a piece of bread, for example, because I could "feel" like I'm eating more and get away with less.

There is a problem with the baby carrots, however, in that our perception of "enough" is skewed if we are not paying attention.  There is actually ~1 gram of carb per baby carrot, so you would only get about 15 at that meal (and that would be it for your carb intake).  Now, for those of you who sit and eat the whole bag of baby carrots (and you know who you are) you are going to get about 45 grams of carb at one sitting, which might be too much for you.  And then there was my patient who couldn't figure out why his blood glucose was so high when he was "eating" all these healthy vegetables via his brand new juicer.  Turns out he would put 2 POUNDS of carrots in the juicer, which would only produce about 16 oz of juice on his machine, and he would drink ALL 16 OUNCES at once.  That equals out to roughly about 60 grams of net carb per glass and ~372 calories (and that was along with his breakfast).

And then I have found that buying the carrots and chopping them myself is more economical, but that's just me.

Take home message--baby carrots and "baby cut" carrots can safely be worked to a carb controlled meal plan so you can get the fiber, potassium, and satisfying crunch.  If you have trouble with overconsumption and/or you want to save a little money, start cutting up your own carrots.

No comments:

Post a Comment