Root Vegetables and Diabetes.

Carbohydrate in Root Vegetables.

Like fruit & beans, most root vegetables are a recommended source of carbohydrate. Apart from potatoes they all count towards the 5 (or more) portions a day that everyone is advised to eat.

With the exception of raw carrots (low), all of the root vegetables on this page are in the medium to quick range. Potentially they can cause blood sugar highs.

They are all carbohydrate sources. So take care not to over do the quantities especially on the quick rated foods.

Mix Quick and Slow Rated Foods in a Meal!

Quick rated roots (and tubers) are best eaten in a meal with a balance of lower rated foods. Foods like meat or fish and vegetables like green/salad vegetables or beans in the pod. This gives a more balanced and medium rated meal.

What's Wrong with Potatoes?

Why are potatoes not included in the recommendation to have 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day?

Nothing is actually wrong with potato but nutritionally they are rather limited. Most other vegetables are better with many offering protection against heart disease and cancer.

From the diabetic's viewpoint potato in any form can be a major source of calories, with a quick conversion to blood sugar!

Potato Products and Snacks: Unless they are very high in added fat as are potato crisps (Medium, GI=54). Most products will be high rated and perhaps high in salt too.

If you eat them, take care and check blood sugar levels if you monitor them. As they could cause high blood sugars levels. Especially if you eat them on there own as a snack.

Colour in Vegetables.

As a general rule, highly coloured vegetables (and fruit) are often the most nutritious.

Of the root vegetables on this page, beetroot and carrot are the stars for nutrition.

External Links.

Root VegetablesSugar Absorption RateNotes
Related to sugar beet a source of refined sugar but good for other nutritional needs.

Sealed packs of Beetroot can keep for months in the fridge.

Medium (cooked GI=51) to Slow(raw). Carrot's have the least effect on diabetic's of any of the root vegetables on this page.

They are high in other nutritional needs too.

Before the introduction of the potato from the New World. The parsnip was one of the staples of Winter British vegetables.
Potatoes are high in calories and have a quick conversion to blood sugar. Try to avoid eating them on there own as a snack as crisps and other potato based snacks for example.

Roast potatoes and fried chips are also fairly high in fat and still more calories and also have quick conversions to blood sugar.

If calories are a problem, try microwave or oven chips to reduce the fat or boiled potatoes for a low fat option.

Jacket and new potatoes have slightly slow conversions to blood sugar but ... you guessed it, they are still high rated. Jacket potatoes being a slightly healthier option because of the higher fibre.

Personally I frequently replace potato in meals with many types of bean, sweet potato or have durum wheat pasta based meals. This is one of the most significant changes in my diet since my diagnosis.


Sweet Potato Medium
Don't be put off by the name! Although its a tuber like the potato its not closely related to the potato and it counts towards your 5 vegetables a day.

Peeled and cut into medium sized segments, it needs less cooking time than potato too, about 15 minutes to boil, or a little more to steam.

Or like potato they can also be scrubbed, roasted and eaten in their skins for a higher fibre food.

One cooking suggestion I like is: -

Peel, boil (or steam) with onions and carrots, mash and then mix with canned salmon or tuna for rather nice fish cakes! It won't go crisp baked or under the grill though.

Swede (Rutabaga) Quick
Rutabaga is the name for Swede's in the US by the way.
Turnip Unknown With less than 5% carbohydrate in White Turnips, they are very likely to be in the medium or slow GI range.

In calorie terms they are similiar to Cauliflower and Peppers.

For any Scots! Please note Scottish and English names for Swedes and Turnips are certainly different. I can't comment any further but if any one can clarify, tell me using the feedback link below.

YamMedium Another tuber, related to the sweet potato.
Root VegetablesSugar Absorption RateNotes

Root Vegetables: Typical Food Group, Fibre and Sodium Content

As shown on the labels of pre-packaged foods: (Asda = Walmart in the UK) -
Nil or Trace Sodium on all of these foods.

NameCalories in 100g (3½oz)Protein Carbohydrate
   Total Fat
New Potatoes in Skins (Nicola) - Asda Mar 2006681.4% 15.0%
White Turnips - Asda Jun 2006250.9% 4.7%

 * In the UK fibre is not included in with the carbohydrate figures.