ICDA250

Q:

Is ECC a good mechanism for directing food choices? I just stumbled onto the concept of ECC Effective Carb Count. A package of high fiber/low carb tortilla wraps had endorsements by several physicians indicating the total carbs for each tortilla (one serving) was 18g and the dietary fiber was 12g, resulting in an ECC of 6g. I reviewed a number of beans/legumes as well as quinoa and was stunned to find that the quinoa recommended by a dietitian delivered a walloping 17g ECC. Any additional tips?

Amy Campbell

A:

“Effective Carb Count” is a term that food manufacturers use to promote food products that they believe have minimal effect on blood glucose. The claim is that subtracting sugar alcohols, fiber and glycerin from the total carbohydrate grams on the Nutrition Fact label determines “effective carbs”, “net carbs” or “impact carbs.” However, these terms are currently not recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Food manufacturers try to lower the carb content of foods by either changing the serving size or replacing naturally-occurring carbs with other ingredients, such as soy flour or soy protein, inulin, polydextrose, sugar alcohols, nuts or oils. Some of these ingredients may still impact blood glucose, though. About half of sugar alcohols gets converted to blood glucose. And while fiber is not digested, some fiber is fermented by bacteria in the intestines, which theoretically could produce glucose and affect your own blood glucose levels. The “rule of thumb” is to subtract half of the fiber grams when there are 5 or more grams per serving, and half of the sugar alcohol grams, if present, from the total carbohydrate grams in a food item. Then, check your blood glucose 2-3 hours after you’ve eaten that particular food or a meal and you should have a pretty good sense of how that food affected your blood glucose.