Sugar Matters
February 10, 2015
Starches – is it the type or amount that makes a difference?

It seems like almost every few months there is another news article talking about carbohydrates, either in the strong positive or negative. And I get lots of questions in my clinic (and randomly in the grocery store at times!) about starches/carbohydrates, what is good or not good.{{more}}

So, the first thing to know is that no matter which starches/carbohydrates we are talking about, they all have the potential to make your blood sugars go up. ALL OF THEM!!! Some more than others, of course. Fruits, which have sugars in them as well, don’t usually lead to as high blood sugar spikes as cake, for example, but those are all carbohydrates.

The TYPE of carbohydrate thus does make a difference. You know the rule for diabetics: “avoid the “white stuff,” meaning white bread, potatoes, anything made with white flour (which could include roti skin, in some cases). The reason for this is that white flour is usually a very processed flour, and it makes blood sugars rise higher and faster than the less processed version, which is usually wheat (“brown”). Recently, there has been a big push in the world of nutrition towards non-flour based carbohydrates as healthy whole grain alternatives. These are not readily available in every regular grocery store, but they are becoming more and more popular. Grains like wild rice, quinoa and couscous are popping up more and more. Wheat breads and wheat pastas are usually easier to find and are better than their white-flour based versions. Brown rice is another great one to try. But if your choice is limited, then you head to the second rule to consider: the amount.

The AMOUNT of carbohydrates/starches definitely also plays a role, NO MATTER THE TYPE of starch we are talking about. If you say last night’s dinner was a plate of rice, I don’t care if it was brown or white rice; that was too much! Now, a plate of white rice is worse for your blood sugars than a plate of brown rice, true, but they are BOTH BAD, because the amount is simply too much. Ever hear that there can be “too much of a good thing?” That is what I mean here. If you are in the habit of choosing healthier versions of starches, great! BUT you still need to watch those amounts my friends, because it still makes a huge difference in blood sugar control. Now, when your choices are limited to those “whites” for some reason, or you have a bunch of eddoes for this week as your main food, then try to make the starch amount smaller and your protein or vegetables bigger portions.

You can start your check on starches/carbohydrates by cooking with healthier grains or whole wheat when possible, then being sure you keep your amounts within good portions and not overdo it just because “this is better for me than the other version.”

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD

Medical Director Endocrine Care Group

Tel: 843-798-4227