Carbohydrate Distribution

Carbohydrate Distribution

The foods listed below all contain carbohydrates which turn into a sugar called glucose during digestion. Foods with carbohydrates should be eaten in appropriate amounts and distributed throughout the day. This is especially important if you have diabetes.

The following information about food portions and carbohydrate grams can help you to count the amount of carbohydrates that you eat.

Fruit: 15 grams of carbohydrate

  • Small apple, orange, peach, peara
  • 1/2 banana
  • 17 grapes
  • 3 prunes
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup of mango or fruit cocktail
  • 1 cup cantaloupe or papaya
  • 1¼ cups watermelon or strawberries
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 3/4 cup of blackberries or blueberries

Milk & Yogurt: 15 grams of carbohydrate

2/3 cup plain yogurt or yogurt sweetened with aspartame, sucralose or stevia.

Starches, Cereals, Grains: 15 grams of carbohydrate

  • 1 ounce (about 1 slice) bread and bread products
  • 1/2 English muffin or hamburger bun
  • 1/2 cup of potato, corn, peas, yams
  • 1⁄3 cup cooked spaghetti, noodles, pasta
  • 1/2 cup serving cooked oatmeal, grits, kasha
  • 1/2 cup serving cooked barley, bulgur
  • 1⁄3 cup serving cooked rice, millet or quinoa
  • 1/2 cup serving cooked legumes (dried beans, peas)
  • 6 inch size tortilla
  • 3 cups popcorn
  • 6 saltines crackers
  • 3 graham cracker squares

Vegetables: 5 grams of carbohydrate

  • 1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw
  • Garden vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, beets, eggplant, mushrooms, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, celery, cucumbers, cooked greens, okra, bell peppers, snow peas, Swiss chard

Tips to improve blood sugar levels

  • Eat about the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal. Distribute your foods into 3 meals about 4 to 6 hours apart. If you are hungry between meals have a small snack.
  • Fruit is naturally sweet so you should limit to one serving at a time. Serving sizes are listed on the front of this handout.
  • Meats, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, tofu, cottage cheese, nuts, oils and fats don’t raise your blood sugar but do contribute calories.
  • Use free foods: diet sodas, sugar-free Jello, Crystal Light, mineral water, tea, coffee, sugar-free popsicles, Equal, NutraSweet, Splenda, Sweet'n Low or Truvia.

Your dietitian can help you choose a carbohydrate plan that is right for you.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


Diabetes Clinic at Mount Zion
2200 Post St., Suite C-418
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 885–3868
Fax: (415) 885–7724

Diabetes Clinic at Parnassus
400 Parnassus Ave., Suite A-550
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353–2350
Fax: (415) 353–2337

Diabetes Teaching Center
400 Parnassus Ave., Suite A-550
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353–2266
Fax: (415) 353–2337