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Informal carb labels create confusion

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ROCHESTER, Minn., Nov 03, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Consumers who purchase or order foods described as being low in carbohydrates are not necessarily getting healthier food, Mayo Clinic researchers say.

Some of the misleading terms are brought to light in the November issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, namely "low carb."

There is no standard definition for this term, nor is there for "carb wise" and "carb fit." They are simply marketing terms to sell products. And low carb doesn't mean low fat or low calorie.

Regarding "total carbs," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calculates total carbohydrates by subtracting the grams of protein, fat, water and ash -- the non-burnable part of food that includes minerals -- from the total weight of the food. That number is listed on a label as total carbs.

"Net carbs" are total carbs minus fiber, glycerin and sugar alcohols. The singular -- "Net carb," like "low carb" -- is a marketing phrase. The theory is that fiber, glycerin and sugar alcohols -- all forms of carbohydrates -- don't raise blood sugar and shouldn't be included when counting carbs. But, sugar alcohols may raise blood sugar, and these substances do add calories, the article said.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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