Sugar Matters
January 16, 2009
Question from the audience: ground provision and such

“…Can you share any info as to the which ground provision is lowest in carbohydrates, among the following: cassava, breadfruit, dasheen, eddoes, yam, sweet potato, green plantains. I am overweight and was told that I am pre-diabetic. I have great difficulty loosing the wt. because I crave a great deal of carbohydrate foods esp. bread, rice, etc…”{{more}}

Excellent question! I did a little work on this one.

In regard to the actual carbohydrate content: it seems that our friend the cassava tops out as having the most carbohydrates when compared to yam, sweet potato, Irish potato, breadfruit and plantain. 1 cup of cassava contains 78 grams of carbohydrates, compared with 37 grams in cooked yam, 58 grams in sweet potato or 1 plantain, 36 grams in a medium Irish potato, and 26 in 1/4 of a small breadfruit.

While trying to research this question I came upon a very interesting research study in the British Journal of Nutrition from 2004. It looked at the glycemic index of commonly eaten ground provision/starchy foods in the Caribbean. If you recall a few months ago, we briefly discussed glycemic index: this is basically a measure of how fast and high a particular food makes your blood sugar rise. The higher the glycemic index, the faster and higher it will make your blood sugar rise. Therefore, it is thought that a lower glycemic index is better for your blood sugar control. There are some caveats with this plan, including the fact that many fatty foods have a low glycemic index, and CLEARLY we don’t want to eat too much of that—right??? But overall foods with lower glycemic index do have some benefit in glucose control and can be part of healthy eating if done correctly.

Now back to this research I found: It turns out that none of those foods our reader asked about have a low glycemic index at all, but there are some that are intermediate and others that are much higher.

In the winners’ circle(drum roll please) are Tania, breadfruit, green banana, yam and eddoes. Yam may take the first prize for having a low glycemic index AND reasonable carbohydrate content compared to the rest.

And the losers, so to speak? The prize for having the higher glycemic index falls between cassava, dasheen and irish potato, although irish potatoes were close to being intermediate. Lesson: watch out for cassava which is both high in carbohydrate AND high glycemic index.

Based on our reader’s question and the information above, my suggestion for diabetics and those trying to lose weight is this: keep carbohydrates in your diet BUT

1) Try to stay with those in the lower glycemic group, like breadfruit, Tania, green banana and eddoes and limit the cassava and dasheen.

2) Keep your portions small. No one should be eating half a breadfruit on his/her own. This is too much. 1 Cup diced or 1 medium-sized ground provision is plenty.

3) Don’t forget that your rice, roti, juice, beans, bread and fruit at the side of your plate also count for carbohydrates.

I know the cravings for starchy and sweet foods will be strong when you start cutting back, but stay the course!!! It will get better as your body adjusts to eating different foods instead of loading up on starch every time. Thanks for the question, dearest reader!

Until next week, stay safe and healthy, Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD [email protected]

Medical Director Endocrine Care Group

Tel: 843-798-4227