Understanding Carbohydrates

grains

Take the Understanding Carbohydrates quiz.

Test your knowledge about carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are found in which foods?

Starch, fruit, milk, and starchy vegetables contain carbohydrate. Cheese, steak, chicken, and fish are types of protein, while olive oil and butter are types of fat.
Which of the following are true statements?

All of the answers are correct. However the best answer is "All of the above". Both sugar and starch are carbohydrates. Starch is broken down into individual sugar units in the intestines. The individual sugar units are small enough to be transported across the intestinal wall into the blood stream.
Which food will raise your blood glucose the most quickly?

Fruit juice will rapidly raise your blood sugar because it has a lot of sugar and is a liquid, and liquids are more rapidly absorbed than solids. A bagel will raise the blood sugar - but only slowly, because it takes a while for the starch to be digested into sugar and absorbed. A diet soda has no carbohydrate and will not raise your blood sugar.
Which foods will NOT, or only slightly, raise you blood sugar?

Because mozzarella cheese has no carbohydrate and tomatoes have only a very small amount of carbohydrate, they will not (or only minimally) raise your blood sugar. A burrito, however, will raise your blood sugar as there is carbohydrate in the tortilla, rice and beans. Potato and leek soup will also raise your blood sugar as potatoes are a starch.
How much carbohydrate do you need each day?

About half (45-65%) of your calories each day come from carbohydrates. This is the case whether you have diabetes or do not have diabetes. The exact amount of carbohydrates you need each day depends on your calorie goals, activity level and personal preferences. Your registered dietitian can help choose a carbohydrate goal and daily meal plan that keeps your food, medication and physical activity in mind.
To best meet your blood sugar goals after meals, what strategy works best?

The best way to meet your blood sugar goals after meals is to spread your carbohydrates evenly over 3 meals a day, eat more complex rather than simple carbohydrates as complex carbohydrates will be more slowly digested, and stay within your carbohydrate allotment. How you distribute carbohydrate throughout the day can make a difference in your blood sugar. Regular sodas contain carbohydrate, and liquid carbohydrates digest faster than solids, so they raise the blood sugar quickly. Since non-starchy vegetables are low in calories, low in carbohydrate, and high in fiber, they can help you feel full and more satisfied with your meal, but do not lead to high blood sugar and weight gain.
The benefits of counting carbohydrates are:

All three choices are benefits of carbohydrate counting. However the best answer is "All of the above". Counting carbohydrates gives you a better awareness of your eating habits, which helps to control your blood sugar, keep you in balance with your medications, and manage your body weight.
To count carbohydrates using a food label, what items do you need to look at on the food label?

Look at serving size and grams of total carbohydrate, fiber*, and sugar alcohol** per serving to make sure you are counting your carbohydrates correctly. Calories will not give you information on the amount of carbohydrate in the food, and the grams of sugar are already included in the total carbohydrate amount. *Fiber carbohydrate is not digested and needs to be subtracted from the total carbohydrate **Sugar alcohol is only partially digested and absorbed. Only half the grams of carbohydrate should be counted.
You are reading a food label to count the carbohydrates in your breakfast cereal. The serving size listed says 1 cup. The total carbohydrate listed on the food label says 22 grams. If you decide to eat 1 ½ cups of cereal, how many grams of carbohydrate are you eating?

The grams of total carbohydrate listed on a food label are based on one serving size. The serving size listed on this label is 1 cup. Since you are eating 1½ cups, you are eating one and a half servings. Multiply 1½ x 22 grams, and you get 33 grams of total carbohydrate.
One carbohydrate exchange equals:

One carbohydrate exchange equals 15 grams of carbohydrate.
The carbohydrate exchange serving for rice is:

When you look up rice in the exchange book, it tells you that ⅓ cup of cooked rice equals 15 grams of carbohydrate.
At breakfast, you make the following meal:
  • 1 slice of toast which is 1 carbohydrate exchange
  • 1 small orange which is 1 carbohydrate exchange
  • 1 cup nonfat milk which is 1 carbohydrate exchange
How many grams of carbohydrate are in your meal?

Each food item listed above equals 1 carbohydrate exchange. That's a total of 3 exchanges, or 45 grams of carbohydrate.
You packed a large banana in your lunch. To calculate the carbohydrate, you decide to weigh the whole banana (with the peel). The FACTOR for a whole banana with the peel is 3.75 per ounce. Using the FACTOR system, how many grams of carbohydrate are in your 10-ounce banana?

If you are weighing a whole fruit (with core, seeds, peel, and rind), use the fruit FACTOR for whole fruit. If you are weighing sliced fruit (for edible portion), use the fruit FACTOR for sliced fruit. The FACTOR for whole bananas (with peel) is 3.75. Multiply 10 oz x 3.75 and you get 38 grams of carbohydrate.
As a person with diabetes, can sugar and sugar-containing foods be included in your meal plan?

Research has shown that people with diabetes can enjoy sugar and sugar-containing foods, in the context of a balanced meal that includes fat and protein. When similar amounts of sucrose (or table sugar) and starch were consumed as part of a meal, studies showed similar effects on the blood sugar levels. Just like other carbohydrate foods, count the grams of carbohydrate in your sweets, and be sure to stay within your carbohydrate budget for the meal or snack. Sweets or desserts will need to replace another carbohydrate choice in order to meet your blood sugar and body weight goals.
You eat a bowl of "no sugar added" ice cream. You look at the food label and see that it is sweetened with sugar alcohols. What effect do sugar alcohols have on your blood sugar compared to regular sugar?

When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract ½ of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate. Sugar alcohols are a reduced-calorie sweetener, and have about ½ the calories of regular sugar and other carbohydrates. However, they are still a form of carbohydrate, and they still affect your blood sugar levels.
You are reading a food label to count the carbohydrates in a “no sugar added” ice cream bar. For one bar, the total grams of carbohydrate is listed as 25 grams. The total sugar alcohol is listed as 8 grams. Accounting for sugar alcohols, how many grams of carbohydrate are really in one bar?

Because sugar alcohols are harder for the body to digest, the effect on blood sugar levels is less than sugar. When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, you need to subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate. You do not subtract all of the grams of sugar alcohol. By subtracting half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate, you get 21 grams of carbohydrate (25 minus 4 grams).
The benefits of using artificial sweeteners (such as Equal, Splenda or Sweet and Low) in place of regular sugar are:

All three choices are considered benefits of using artificial sweeteners or products that are made with artificial sweeteners. However, the best answer is "All of the above".


©2007-2017 Collective work Martha Nolte Kennedy,
The Regents of the University of California.
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