Bread, Pasta and Potatoes:  Carbohydrates

Foods that contain carbohydrate raise blood glucose. Keeping track of the carbohydrate intake is essential for people with diabetes.

There are three main types of carbohydrates: Starches (also known as complex carbohydrates), Sugars, and Fiber

But there are also other terms often occurring: sugar, added sugar, low-calorie sweeteners, sugar alcohols, reduced-calorie sweeteners, processed grains, enriched grains, complex carbohydrate, sweets, refined grains, and whole grains.

Therefore it is normal to be a bit confused at the beginning!

When reading the label you have to be aware that the total carbohydrate refers to the three types mentioned above. That is the number you should consider when counting.


Foods high in starch include:

  • Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, lima beans, and potatoes
  • Dried beans, lentils, and peas such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black eyed peas, and split peas
  • Grains like oats, barley, and rice


Sugar is another type of carbohydrate. You may also hear sugar referred to as simple or fast-acting carbohydrates. There are two main types of sugar:

  • naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk or fruit
  • added sugars such as those added during processing such as fruit canned in heavy syrup or sugar added to make a cookie

On the nutrition facts label, the number of sugar grams includes both added and natural sugars.


Fiber comes from plant foods so there is no fiber in animal products such as milk, eggs, meat, poultry, and fish.

For good health, adults need to try to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Most of us only get about ½ what is recommended. Fiber contributes to good functioning of the intestine, and helps you feel full and satisfied, and to be regular.

Fiber can be found in:

  • Beans and legumes. Think black beans, kidney beans, pintos, chick peas (garbanzos), white beans, and lentils.
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially those with edible skin (for example, apples, corn and beans) and those with edible seeds (for example, berries).
  • Whole grains such as:
    • Whole wheat pasta
    • Whole grain cereals
    • Whole grain breads
  • Nuts – Peanuts, walnuts and almonds are a good source of fiber and healthy fat, but watch portion sizes, because they also contain a lot of calories in a small amount.

An excellent source of fiber has five grams or more per serving, a good one from 2.5 to 4.9 grams.

It is best to assume fiber through food than with supplements because food has extra vitamins and minerals.