Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Fiber, Carbs and Labels

Fiber is a carbohydrate, but since it isn’t digested, it kind of doesn’t “count” as a carb. But it really is a carb. How can that be?

Fiber doesn’t impact blood glucose negatively. Actually. fiber  affects blood sugars positively by slowing the impact of other carbs ingested. So, if you are a person who reads labels (which is a great idea, by the way), the general grams of fiber isn’t always the real picture– you ought to look for the effective carbohydrates (carbs minus fiber). For example, a serving that has 6 grams of carbs but 5 of fiber only has 1 gram of effective carbohydrates.  Bottom line: Fiber is a  carbohydrate but provides no calories or “useable” carbs.

Almost all the non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits are the ones that are highest in both fiber and nutrients.

Here is a list, roughly in order on this carb/fiber scale. For foods not on this list, you can always check out

Almost All Fiber:

Flax!! There is almost no usable carbohydrate in flax seeds. It is very high in both soluble and insoluble fiber (about one third of the fiber is soluble), and has a pile of nutrients to boot. Flax is just could be the ultimate low-carb fiber source. 1 T ground flax has 2.0 grams of carbohydrate, 1.9 of which is fiber.

Chia Seeds have a fiber and carb profile similar to flax seeds. (Remember that I sell these if you are interested).

Vegetables that are close to all fiber:

Mustard Greens, Chicory, Endive

More Fiber Than Usable Carbohydrate:

Wheat Bran: ½ cup raw, 3 grams usable carb, 6 grams fiber

Unsweetened Coconut and Coconut Flour: 1 ounce, 2 grams usable carb, 5 grams fiber

High Fiber Cereals: Check the labels carefully, but a few high fiber cereals are also low or fairly low in carbohydrate. Examples: All Bran with Extra Fiber; Fiber One Collard Greens: 1 cup chopped, cooked, 4 grams usable carb, 5 grams fiber

Avocado, Hass : 1 medium avocado, 3 grams usable carb, 12 grams fiber

Spinach and Chard : 1 cup chopped, cooked � 3 g usable carb, 4 g fiber ; Frozen 1 10 oz package � 3 g usable carb, 8 g fiber : 6 cups of raw spinach or chard=about 1 cup cooked

Broccoli: 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, 1 gram usable carb, 3 grams fiber ; 1 cup chopped, raw, 4 grams usable carb, 2 grams fiber

Cauliflower : 1/2 cup pieces, cooked,1 gram usable carb, 2 grams fiber ; 1 cup raw, 2 grams usable carb, 2.5 grams fiber

Blackberries: 1 cup, raw, 6 grams usable carb, 8 grams fiber

About as Much Usable Carb as Fiber:

Asparagus: 1/2 cup pieces, 2 grams usable carbs, 2 grams fiber

Celery: 1 cup chopped, 1.5 grams usable carb, 1.5 grams fiber

Eggplant: 1 cup raw, cubed, 2 grams usable fiber, 3 grams fiber; 1 cup cubed, cooked, 5 grams usable carb, 3 grams fiber

Lettuce, Romaine: 1 cup shredded, .5 gram usable carb, 1 g fiber

Mushrooms: 1 cup, sliced, raw, 1 gram usable carb, 1 gram fiber

Radishes: 1 cup raw, sliced, 2 grams usable carb, 2 grams fiber

Red Raspberries: 1 cup, raw, 7 grams usable carb, 8 grams fiber

High Fiber, but Not As Much Fiber as Usable Carb

Rice Bran: 1/4 cup 8 grams usable carb, 6 grams fiber

Cabbage: 1 cup raw, chopped, 3 grams usable carb, 2 grams fiber ;1/2 cup cooked, chopped, 2 grams usable carb 1 gram fiber

Bell Peppers: 1 cup chopped, raw, 4 grams usable carb, 3 grams fiber

Snow Peas (edible pod):1 cup whole, raw, 3 grams usable carb, 2 grams fiber

Zucchini Squash : 1 cup cooked, sliced, 4 grams usable carb, 3 grams fiber

Strawberries: 1/2 cup sliced, 5 grams usable carb, 2 grams fiber

By the way, talking about labels, all nutritional information is really only an estimate. Every food varies in composition from one to another. The particular variety of plant or animal, where it grew, the weather, the fertilizer – many factors go into the final product. Think about wines for example: even the flavor varies based on where the grapes grew. And this is just as true for every other fresh food and the products made from it, so that we can never know exactly how many carbs or calories or vitamins are in any particular strawberry, unless you analyze that particular strawberry. Since nutritional labels are derived from a certain batch of food, they will reflect this variation. The USDA database takes averages from many batches of the food to come up with their numbers. The numbers may change when more data comes–that’s how there can be such a variation in the calorie count programs that are out there.

The serving size on the label is not always perfectly clear either. If a label says that 1 tablespoon of a food has one gram of carbohydrate for example, that could be anything from .51 grams to 1.49 grams because they are allowed to round up or down. That’s not a big deal if you are eating one serving, but there are 16 tablespoons in a cup, so the error could be as much as 8 grams in either direction!

There you have it!



Comments on: "Fiber, Carbs and Labels" (4)

  1. […] talk about the healthy weight benefit. How do fiber and fiber-rich foods control hunger and increase the  feeling of fullness?  Well, this happens partly because […]

  2. […] to eat nonfoods (nutrient empty foods) and refined foods, and limit seriously your sugar intake, even raw sugar—this will cause your […]

  3. […] that have been implicated in colon cancer risk. The other suggestion is that a diet rich in raw vegetables seem to lower the risk of breast and colon cancer, and it seems to lower the risk of deaths from […]

  4. […] gracious! Haven’t we heard enough about carbohydrates yet? One side says eat less and the other side says eat more. But neither side is hitting the […]

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