Carbohydrates are the basic currency of glucose. For most diabetes, carbohydrates - rich foods such as vegetables, breads, cereals, and pasta should account for 45 percent to 60 percent of their daily calories. Because the fiber content of these carbohydrates slows down the release of glucose, high fiber starches, such as barley, oat cereals, beans, peas, and lentils, help suppress any sharp increases in blood sugar levels after meals.
Dietary guidelines allow for simple carbohydrates, like syrups, sugars, and sweeteners, to be included in the diet in moderation. As opposed to recommendations in the past, the emphasis is now on monitoring total carbohydrate consumption at each meal/snack rather than the source of carbohydrate. But all carbohydrates are not equal when it comes to nutrition. Complex carbohydrates such as grains and cereals provide vitamins, minerals and fiber, whereas sugars and sweeteners provide mostly calories; therefore, complex carbohydrates should make up the bulk of the diabetic diet, and sugars only a small amount.