Nutrition News: Carbs that Count

It’s true. Too many carbohydrates can cause high rises in blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes. Most nutrition professionals advise you to “count” the number of carbohydrates you consume each time you eat. Question is, What counts? Here’s a list of what to look for (in order of importance) to help guide you through your next label-reading adventure:

Serving size: The MOST important part of the Nutrition Facts label. All the nutrition information is based on this serving amount.

Total carbohydrates: The combined amount of all sugars and starches in one serving. Blood sugar levels rise in response to the “total” amount of carbohydrates consumed at one time.

Dietary fiber: Carbohydrates that your body cannot digest or absorb that provide numerous health benefits. Foods high in dietary fiber are often called “complex carbohydrates.”

Saturated fat: If you have diabetes, this type of fat is bad news for your heart. Unfortunately, many of the new “low carb” products are saturated in saturated fat.

Ingredients: This is where you will likely find sugar alcohols: listed—foods that end with “-ol” like mannitol and sorbitol. Sugar alcohols contribute about half the carbs as other sugars and starches.

“Net carbs” “Net carb effect” ‘Impact carb” Anyone’s guess what these terms mean; they have not yet been defined by the US Food and Drug Administration.

What carbs count when you are trying to control your blood sugars? Try this not-so-simple calculation (in grams):

Total carbohydrates – Dietary fiber – (Sugar alcohols divided by 2) = “Carbs that count”

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