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Toward an Evidence-Based Definition and Classification of Carbohydrate Food Quality: An Expert Panel Report

Kevin B. Comerford, Yanni Papanikolaou, Julie Miller Jones, Judith Rodriguez, Joanne Slavin, Siddhartha Angadi and Adam Drewnowski


Carbohydrate-containing crops provide the bulk of dietary energy worldwide. In addition to their various carbohydrate forms (sugars, starches, fibers) and ratios, these foods may also contain varying amounts and combinations of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, prebiotics, and anti-nutritional factors that may impact diet quality and health. Currently, there is no standardized or unified way to assess the quality of carbohydrate foods for the overall purpose of improving diet quality and health outcomes, creating an urgent need for the development of metrics and tools to better define and classify high-quality carbohydrate foods. The present report is based on a series of expert panel meetings and a scoping review of the literature focused on carbohydrate quality indicators and metrics produced over the last 10 years. The report outlines various approaches to assessing food quality, and proposes next steps and principles for developing improved metrics for assessing carbohydrate food quality. The expert panel concluded that a composite metric based on nutrient profiling methods featuring inputs such as carbohydrate–fiber–sugar ratios, micronutrients, and/or food group classification could provide useful and informative measures for guiding researchers, policymakers, industry, and consumers towards a better understanding of carbohydrate food quality and overall healthier diets. The identification of higher quality carbohydrate foods could improve evidence-based public health policies and programming—such as the 2025–2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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  1. Comerford, K.B.; Papanikolaou, Y.; Jones, J.M.; Rodriguez, J.; Slavin, J.; Angadi, S.; Drewnowski, A. Toward an Evidence-Based Definition and Classification of Carbohydrate Food Quality: An Expert Panel Report. Nutrients 2021, 13, 2667.
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