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So What’s Low Carb? Chapter 4 – Part 3

The Diabetes Diet
Richard K. Bernstein, MD, FACE, FACN, FACCWS
Part 3 of Chapter 4
So What’s Low Carb?

Soymilk
There are many soy products that can be used in our diet plan, and soymilk is no exception. It’s a satisfactory lightener for coffee and tea, and one of my patients adds a small amount to diet sodas. Others drink it as a beverage, either straight or with added flavoring such as those mentioned for yogurt. Personally, I find the taste too bland to drink without flavoring, and I would probably prefer cream diluted with water. When used in small amounts (up to 2 tablespoons), soymilk need not be figured into the meal
plan.

As noted in the No-No foods section, of the many brands of soymilk on the market, WestSoy offers the only unsweetened one I’ve been able to find, although other unsweetened brands are available in various parts of the country.

Soybean Flour
If you want to try baking with soybean flour, you’ll find a neat solution to the pastry restriction in this diet. One ounce of full-fat soybean flour (about G cup) contains about 7.5 grams of slow-acting carbohydrate and about 1 ounce of protein. You could make chicken pies, tuna pies, and even sugar-free Jell-O pies or pumpkin pies. Just remember to include the carbohydrate and protein contents in your meal plan.

Soybean flour usually must be blended with egg to form a batter suitable for breads, cakes, and the like. Creating a blend that works requires either experience or experimentation.

Bran Crackers
Of the dozens of different crackers that I have seen in health food stores and supermarkets, I have found only three brands that are truly low in carbohydrate.

• GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbread, produced by
G. Gundersen Larvik A/S, Larvik, Norway (distributed
in the United States by Cel-Ent, Inc., Box 1173,
Beaufort, SC 29901, fax only, 843-524-9444). Each
9-gram slice contains about 3 grams of digestible
carbohydrate. If this product is not available locally,
you can order it directly from the importer or via the
Web at www.ggbrancrispbread.com. One case contains
thirty 4-ounce packages. They are also available
from Trotta’s Pharmacy, 877-987-6882.

• Bran-a-Crisp, produced by Saetre A/S, N1411, Kolbotn,
Norway (distributed in the United States by
Interbrands, Inc., 3300 N.E. 164th Street, FF3,
Ridgefield, WA 98642). Each 8.3-gram cracker con-
tains about 4 grams of digestible carbohydrate. Brana-
Crisp may be ordered directly from Interbrands,
Inc., by phone or fax if you cannot find it locally.
Phone 877-679-3552 or fax 360-574-3574. The
Web site www.branacrisp.com will take you to online
wholesalers and retailers, or you can order from
Trotta’s Pharmacy. This product is also available in
some food markets as Fiber Rich bran crackers.

• Wasa Fiber Rye. These crackers are available in most
supermarkets in the United States and in some other
countries. One cracker contains about 5 grams of digestible
carbohydrate. Many of my patients feel that
this is the tastiest of these three products. Other
Wasa brand crackers contain more carbohydrate.

Although some people eat these plain, to me they taste like cardboard without a spread or some other kind of flavoring. My preference is to enjoy them with chive-flavored cream cheese or butter. Crumbling two GG crispbreads (6 grams carbohydrate) into a bowl and covering them with water plus a tablespoon or two of cream can create bran cracker cereal. Add some Equal or Splenda tablets (dissolved in a bit of hot water) or some liquid stevia or saccharin and perhaps a baking flavor extract (fruit flavor, butter flavor, etc.), or one of the Da Vinci brand sugar-free syrups.

If eaten in excessive amounts, bran crackers can cause diarrhea. They should be eaten with liquid. They are not recommended for people with gastroparesis (delayed stomachemptying), since the bran fibers can form a plug that blocks the outlet of the stomach. The small amount of digestible carbohydrate in these crackers is very slow to raise blood sugar. They are great for people who want a substitute for toast at breakfast.

Note: In the United States, labeling regulations require that fiber be listed as carbohydrate. There are different kinds of fiber, and they all behave differently. My rule of thumb is to deduct half of the stated grams of fiber from the stated grams of carbohydrate to get a general idea of how the listed carbohydrate will affect your blood sugars. Remember the Chinese Restaurant Effect. Even a product that is 100 percent
fiber can raise blood sugar.

Toasted Nori
When my friend and fellow diabetic Kanji Ishikawa sent me a beautifully decorated canister from Japan, I was most impressed and intrigued. You can imagine my dismay when I removed the cover and found seaweed. My dismay was only temporary, however. I reluctantly opened one of the cellophane envelopes and pulled out a tissue-thin slice. My first nibble was quite a surprise — it was delicious. When consumed in small amounts, I found, it had virtually no effect upon blood sugar. Once addicted, I combed the health food stores searching for more. Most of the seaweed I tried tasted like salty tissue paper. Eventually, a patient explained to me that Kanji’s seaweed is a special kind called toasted nori. It contains small amounts of additional ingredients that include soybeans, rice, barley, and red pepper. It is available at most health food stores, and is a very tasty snack. Five or six slices at a time have had no effect upon my blood sugar. The Clinistix/Diastix test showed no glucose after chewing. A standard slice usually measures 1 x 3 inches and weighs about 0.3 gram. Since the product contains about 40 percent carbohydrate, each strip will have only 0.12 gram carbohydrate. You can weigh larger sheets of toasted nori in order to estimate their carbohydrate content.


We would like to thank the publisher Little Brown and Company and Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, for allowing us to provide excerpts from The Diabetes Diet.

Copyright © 2005 by Richard K. Bernstein, M.D. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Author’s Note:
This book is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. The reader should regularly consult a physician for all health-related problems and routine care.

For more information on Dr. Bernstein’s and to purchase his books, CD’s or get access to his free monthly webinars, visit his website at DiabetesBook.com.