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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.

Carbohydrates are not necessarily “good” or “bad.” When it comes to choosing between different carbohydrates, it is better to choose those that have a lower glycemic index to help control blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index increase blood sugar higher and faster than foods with a low glycemic index. In addition to having a lower glycemic index, try to choose carbs that also contain fibre, other nutrients, and healthy fats.

Click here for Tips on Basic Carbohydrate Counting1

This table2,3 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 Least 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
  • White or red potatoes
  • Non-whole-grain crackers
  • Foods with added sugar (e.g., fruit canned in syrup)
  • Juice, soda and any sweetened drinks
  • Processed cereals




1 Diabetes Canada. (2018, April). Basic Carbohydrate Counting. Retrieved March, 2021, from

2 American Diabetes Association®. (n.d.). Carb Counting and Diabetes. Retrieved March, 2021, from

3 Diabetes Canada. (2021, March). The glycemic index (GI). Retrieved March, 2021, from