As the physiological effects of different polysaccharides become better understood it is appropriate to bring improved definition and precision to the area of food carbohydrates. This message is important when one considers that as recently as 1992 carbohydrate was still measured "by difference" in USDA Handbook 8, a practice subject to error because it includes minor non-carbohydrate components and is subject to cumulative analytical error derived from the analyses for protein, fat, moisture and ash. The FDA does not permit the term complex carbohydrate but requires the term "other carbohydrate" which is defined as the amount of carbohydrates remaining after subtraction of dietary fiber, sugars and sugar alcohols from total carbohydrates (3). This introduces another ill-defined and confusing term and continues to avoid mentioning by name the chemically well-defined term starch.
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