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Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

Contributed by: News Canada

By J. Caroline Carroll

(NC) - When eating those all-important carbohydrates every day, we know it's best to curtail the unrefined ones like white bread, white rice, and white potatoes and replace them with complex carbs such as oatmeal, heavy mixed grain breads, and sweet potatoes.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
Recognizing the good carbs and the bad carbs is a valuable exercise so it is worth taking a look at the Glycemic Index (GI) issued by the Canadian Diabetes Association ( By consulting the index on a daily basis, you can quickly see the foods to choose most often, more often, and less often. Eating foods with a low GI helps you to control your appetite, control your cholesterol, and control your blood glucose level - which in turn, lowers the risk of heart disease and the now endemic, type 2 diabetes.

"Take a look at sweet potatoes for example," said Naren Singh, co-owner of produce importer and re-packer, Belle Eden, who introduced Purple Sweeties - those sweet potatoes with the purple peel and cream-coloured flesh - into Canada almost three years ago. "Purple Sweeties, sold in pretty, purple-net bags, are ranked as the most nutritious vegetable when measuring the relative fibre, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium content.

"Unlike white potatoes with their high GI rating, sweet potatoes are a smart carb veggie with a low GI, and a low calorie count," Singh explained. "That makes our Purple Sweeties ideal for weight control, for prolonging physical endurance, and important for diabetics and others who want to keep their blood sugar stable. But smart-carb conversion will be easy," he grinned. "Once you taste the very special, roasted chestnut flavour of this Central American potato, you won't be giving it up."

Starchy foods tend to trigger blood sugar, so to avoid them, choose the low and medium GI foods as a rule. Here's a sampling of foods on the index:

Low GI

  • Heavy mixed grain bread
  • Bran buds
  • Oat bran
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Pasta
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas

Medium GI

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Rye bread
  • Pita
  • Shredded Wheat
  • Couscous
  • White potatoes
  • Green pea soup

High GI

  • White bagel, kaiser, bread
  • Bran flakes
  • Short-grain rice
  • Baked potato
  • French fries

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