The world of intermediate carbohydrates

There are clear-cut bad carbohydrates: wheat, oats, cornstarch, and sucrose. (Fructose, too, but in a class of bad all its own.)

Wheat: The worst. Not only does wheat flour increase blood sugar higher than nearly all other carbohydrates, it invites celiac disease, neurologic impairment, mental and emotional effects, addictive (i.e., exorphin) effects, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, sleepiness, sleep disruption, arthritis . . . just to name a few.

Oats: Yeah, yeah, I know: "Lowers cholesterol." But nobody told you that oats, including slow-cooked oatmeal, causes blood sugar to skyrocket.

Cornstarch: Like wheat, cornstarch flagrantly increases blood sugar.It also stimulates appetite. That's why food manufacturers put it in everything from soups to frozen dinners.

Sucrose: Not only does sucrose create a desire for more food, it is also 50% fructose, the peculiar sugar that makes us fat, increases small LDL particles, increases triglycerides, slows the metabolism of other foods, encourages diabetes, and causes more glycation than any other sugar.

But there are a large world of "other" natural carbohydrates that don't fall into the really bad category. This includes starchy beans like black, kidney, and pinto; rices such as white, brown, and wild; potatoes, including white, red, sweet, and yams; and fruits. It includes "alternative" grains like quinoa, spelt, triticale, amaranth, and barley.

For lack of a better term, I call these "intermediate" carbohydrates. They are not as bad as wheat, etc., but nor are they good. They will still increase blood glucose, small LDL, triglycerides, etc., just not as much as the worst carbohydrates.

The difference is relative. Say we compare the one-hour blood glucose effects of 1 cup of wheat flour product vs. one cup of quinoa. Typical blood sugar after wheat product: 180 mg/dl. Typical blood sugar after quinoa: 160 mg/dl--better but still pretty bad.

Some people are so carb-sensitive that they should avoid even these so-called intermediate carbohydrates. Others can have small indulgences, e.g., 1/2 cup, and not generate high blood sugars.