Nutrition Spotlight : A Word about Diabetes and Carbohydrates

Dina Lawson(Madison County, NY – Feb. 2013) You probably hear a lot about carbohydrates all the time.  Foods that contain carbohydrates raise your blood sugar.  In order to keep your blood glucose levels in your target range, you have to keep track of how many carbohydrates you eat and set a limit on that amount.

Did you know there are 3 main types of carbohydrates?

Starches, which are also known as complex carbohydrates

Sugars

Fiber

On the nutrition facts label, you will see the term ‘total carbohydrate,’ which includes all 3 types of carbohydrates.  This is the number you should pay attention to if you are watching your carbohydrate consumption (also called carbohydrate counting).  This method of monitoring the amount of carbohydrates, (both starches and sugars), is the best way to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Fiber is the only type of carbohydrate that doesn’t raise your blood glucose level.

In the past, people with diabetes were told to completely avoid sugar because it was thought that only sugar raised blood glucose levels very high. Research has shown that it is the total amount of carbohydrate you eat that affects your blood glucose levels more than the type.

Now experts say that you can substitute small amounts of sugar for other carbohydrate containing foods in your daily meals and still keep control of your blood sugar.  For example, you can have a half-cup of regular pudding instead of a half-cup of ‘diet’ pudding for lunch.  Both types of pudding have carbohydrates! The point is that with proper meal planning, you can still have foods with sugar and keep your blood glucose levels in your target range.

Nutrition Spotlight is a monthly education article highlighting a different topic of interest to its readers.  The column is written by Dina Lawson, Registered Dietitian for the Madison County Office for the Aging. Source:  American Diabetes Association, diabetes.org.

 

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