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, Adam Drewnowski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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 standard-ized 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 indica-tors 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2667
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the Quality Carbohydrate Coalition (QCC), which is funded by Potatoes USA. The QCC was not involved in the expert panel discussions, manuscript preparation, or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Carbohydrate foods
  • Carbohydrate quality
  • Diet quality
  • Fiber
  • Food groups
  • Glycemic index
  • Glycemic load
  • Nutrient density
  • Nutrient profiling
  • Whole grain

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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