All Carbs Are Not Created Equal

To complicate matters still further, carbohydrates are comprised of several sub-groups, which include dietary fiber, sugar, sugar alcohol and "other" carbohydrates-a kitchen-sink grouping of gums, lignans, organic acids and flavenoids. (These individual items can be assayed.) The FDA requires that a nutrition label include the total carbohydrates. The amount of dietary fiber and sugar must also be listed. However, the law does not require that other carbohydrate subcategories appear. Some manufacturers voluntarily include the sub-categories of sugar alcohol and "other carbohydrate."

Not all types of carbohydrates behave the same way in your body. For example, when your body digests table sugar, it turns immediately into blood sugar. So sugar and most other carbohydrate are what we call "digestible carbohydrate" Other carbs, such as sugar alcohols, have a minimal impact on blood-sugar levels; still other carbs, such as dietary fiber, pass through your body without having an impact on your blood-sugar level. To date, the FDA has yet to focus on these important biochemical differences and treats all carbohydrates alike.

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