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A Showdown of Carbs

Good carb, bad carb – which is which? Get tips on how to make smarter carb decisions when you have diabetes.


Is eating an apple any better than having a slice of white bread? If it’s whole-grain, can I go all out? Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet even for people who have diabetes. Don’t forget though that all carbohydrates raise blood glucose. Many foods contain them, but some are much healthier than others.

"Good" carbohydrates are rich in fibre and nutrients and low in fat. Fibre lowers the glycemic index of food (how quickly glucose is released into the bloodstream). "Bad" carbohydrates, on the other hand, have a high glycemic index. Not only do they raise your blood glucose quickly, they typically provide few nutrients and little fibre.

This table1,2 gives some examples to help you make healthier carb choices. The list is not exhaustive, so be sure to consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions.

Choose More Often Choose Less Often
  • Whole grain bread, buns, cereal and crackers
  • Barley, bulgur, whole wheat couscous, whole wheat pasta, brown rice
  • Fresh fruit (although high in natural sugars, it’s also high in fibre and nutrients)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Potatoes
  • Non whole-grain crackers
  • Foods with added sugar (e.g., fruit canned in syrup)
  • Juice, soda and any sweetened drinks
  • Processed cereals


1 American Diabetes Association. Glycemic Index and Diabetes. Available at: Accessed September 30, 2018.

2 Eat Right Ontario. Diabetes – these facts may surprise you! Available at:–-these-facts-may-surprise-you!.aspx#fruit. Accessed September 30, 2018.