Confused about carbs? A new score system seeks to serve clarity
Are all carbs created equal? Apparently not, as the Carbohydrate Food Quality Score (CFQS) seeks to arm consumers with the right information on the nutritional content of the carbs they are eating.
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The dietary value of carbohydrate foods has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, with new regulations aiming to limit the amount of calories we intake. As a result of this, the Quality Carbohydrate Coalition-Scientific Advisory Council (QCC-SAC) has proposed an innovative approach to quantifying the quality carbohydrate foods: the Carbohydrate Food Quality Score (CFQS).
The council shared its new scoring system approach in Nutrients journal this week. The CFQS incorporates a food’s fibre-to-carbohydrate and sugar-to-carbohydrate ratios, as previous metrics have done, in addition to evaluating its sodium, potassium and whole grain content. The council hopes that this system will help consumers assess the overall health benefits of carb-containing foods. QCC-SAC state that the index better reflects the nutritional contribution of the entire food product.
“To provide a more complete appraisal of a carbohydrate food’s quality – and to reflect the most up-to-date dietary guidance – the new carbohydrate quality scoring system is the first of its kind to include an assessment of sodium, potassium and whole grain content in addition to sugar and fibre”, the group adds, “these three components were added because carbohydrate foods are predominant dietary sources of these nutrients”. This approach, the council adds, not only aligns with the recommendations of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), but also the World Health Organization, and many of the food-based dietary guidelines from around the world.
“A truly effective measure of carbohydrate food quality is one that is both accurate and practical,” noted QCC-SAC member Siddhartha Angadi. “By capturing a broader set of dietary parameters with relevance to public health, the CFQS aims to offer relevant, real-world recommendations to potentially improve nutrient intake and public health.”
So far, two models have been developed using the new scoring system. One model, known as the CFQS-4, assigns a score of zero to four points to all carbohydrate-containing foods, and the more advanced model, known as the CFQS-5, assigns a score of zero to five points, in which grain foods can score an extra point if their whole-grain content is equal to, or less than, 25 percent.
“The high degree of agreement between the CFQS models and these other established metrics further support the efficacy of our approach,” explained Adam Drewnowski, QCC-SAC member. “We can say with great confidence that the CFQS is assessing the quality of carbohydrate foods in an accurate and meaningful way.”
“We need tools that help people apply nutrition science to an array of cultural dietary traditions, socioeconomic contexts and personal needs and preferences,” added QCC-SAC member Judith Rodriguez. “That’s the ultimate aim of this work: to develop a metric that can be applied to build healthy dietary patterns for everyone.”