Many Carb Choices Can Be Confusing Says LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/19/2005 10:28:29 PM

News You Can Use For June 2004 

Confused about carbs when you read food labels? Many products now list the number of net carbs or number of impact carbs, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

"The terms ‘net carbs,’ ‘impact carbs’ and ‘effective carbs’ promote low-carbohydrate products," Reames says, but notes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved these terms for use on nutrition labels.

"Net carbs" are the amount of carbohydrate in a food minus fiber and sugar alcohols. Since fiber is not digested, it provides no calories and does not raise blood sugar levels.

"There are several different sugar alcohols, however, and these vary for calories they contain," the LSU AgCenter nutritionist says, explaining, "On average, sugar alcohols have about half the effect on blood sugar compared to other types of carbohydrate, because they are not completely digested."

For people with diabetes, eating products with large amounts of sugar alcohols may cause elevated blood sugar levels, and they should check to make sure of the type and amount of sugar alcohol in the product, Reames advises.

One of the most commonly used sugar alcohols, maltitol and its syrups, does have a considerable effect on blood glucose, according to the nutritionist.

Reames recommends choosing high-fiber products, such as 100-percent whole-grain breads, cereals and grains, but you don’t need to buy expensive "low-carb" products to get whole grains and high fiber.

To get more fiber, you can choose from the many choices that have been around on the grocery shelves for years, such as 100-percent whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice.

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst
/Extension/Departments/fcs/.  For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst
/Extension/Departments/fcs/
Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu

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