Carbs - The Breakdown
Nutrition Blog

Carbs - The Breakdown

Dietitians get asked a lot about what the carbohydrates in a certain food, say sliced bread, are if all that is listed on the nutrition facts label is fiber and sugar. The math doesn’t work when total carbohydrates are 22 grams, fiber is 5 grams, and sugar is 5 grams. Where is the other 12 grams of carbohydrate? The answer is starches, or longer chains of sugars, which turns these linked sugar molecules into something slightly different for our body.

Amylose and amylopectin are the two forms of starch and are how plants store their energy. The differences in the amounts of these two starches, along with fiber content, amount of processing, and how it is cooked, all play a role in how we metabolize starches into sugar. What’s most important when choosing grain foods is to choose the least processed foods most often. Like the bread mentioned above, when a food item has 5 grams of fiber, it will be digested more slowly than bread without any fiber.

Choosing yams, sweet potatoes, barley, quinoa, oats, stone ground whole grain breads, beans, peas, fruits and non-starchy vegetables as the majority of our carbohydrates is a good way to make sure you are getting the most out of your starches, fibers and sugars.

Try this Fruity Quinoa Salad for a healthy carb fix!

Fruity Quinoa Salad

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed in water
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 3 mandarin oranges, peeled, wedged, and wedges cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • Juice from one small lemon
  • 5-6 fresh mint leaves


  1. Cook rinsed quinoa according to package instructions. Let cool. Mix citrus juice, olive oil, and honey.
  2. Add blueberries and cut up mandarin oranges to quinoa. Pour juice mixture over quinoa mix and stir to combine. Garnish with cut up mint leaves. Let salad chill in refrigerator for an hour or more prior to servings.