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March 24, 2014 | 1 minute read

Sometimes I see food labels list “other carbohydrate.” What are they and is it something I’m supposed to get more of or limit?

“Other carbohydrate” is listed on some food label’s Nutrition Facts panel underneath “total carbohydrate” and refers mainly to complex carbohydrates, commonly called starches. (If a food contains sweeteners called sugar alcohols – xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol – they also are included in this group.)

Starches are the main type of carbohydrate in bread, cereal, pasta, potatoes and starchy vegetables like corn. They include carbohydrate from whole grains, but also carbohydrate from refined grains, from which valuable nutrients and phytochemicals have been removed. Because these starchy foods can also provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthful phytochemicals, you’ll probably be eating plenty of these “other carbohydrates” if you are eating the plant-focused eating pattern recommended for heart health and lower cancer risk.

There is no uniform goal for how much “other carbohydrate” we should get; it depends on individual calorie needs, which varies with activity level, age and size.

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