Suggested Alternatives to the Term Complex Carbohydrates

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Food Directorate, Nutrition Research Division, Banting Research Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

P. Wood

Centre for Food and Animal Research, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


The Canadian Nutrition Recommendations published in 1990 by Health Canada j refer to the benefits of diets high in complex carbohydrates, defined essentially t?

as starches. For the purposes of food labeling claims in Canada the term "complex ^

carbohydrates" is permitted and has been taken to mean only starch which is the ^

term used on the nutrition label itself. In other jurisdictions, the term "complex |

carbohydrates" has been taken to mean either starches or starches plus dietary fiber. Thus, the term is a source of confusion, is difficult to define in a manner that can be verified analytically and has little scientific meaning for many scientists and lay people alike (1, 2). There is a need to simplify and more clearly define in chemical terms what is meant by the advice to consume foods high in complex carbohydrates. It is time to re-think the use of this chemically undefined

Scott et al.

term and we suggest that "complex carbohydrate" be replaced by the terms starch and dietary fiber.

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