SEATTLE — Research supported by the Quality Carbohydrate Coalition created a carbohydrate food quality score (CFQS) that expands the number of dietary components considered. Existing metrics generally have defined higher nutritional quality carbohydrates as those with more than 10% fiber and less than 10% free sugar (any sugar added to a food or beverage) per 100 grams of carbohydrates. The CFQS adds sodium, potassium and whole grains and keeps fiber and free sugar.

Solid foods with 40% or more energy from carbohydrates were included. Researchers developed two CFQS models, one including fiber, free sugars, sodium and potassium and one that added whole grains as a fifth component. Food items were given one point for each nutrition level reached per 100 grams of carbohydrates. The levels included 10 grams or more of fiber, less than 10 grams of free sugar, less than 600 grams of sodium, more than 300 mg of potassium and 25 grams or more of whole grains.

Nearly all beans and legumes as well as most vegetables and fruits contained 10 grams or more of fiber. Foods with lower fiber content primarily were sweet baked foods, other desserts, quick breads and candy. Most beans and legumes, vegetables, fruit, savory snacks, and cooked grains contained little or no free sugar.

Many vegetables contained more than 600 mg of sodium. Beans tended to be high in sodium. Cooked cereals were not. Beans, vegetables and fruit were most likely to achieve a point for potassium levels. Cooked cereals, snacks/meal bars and other desserts were least likely to receive a potassium point. Ready-to-eat cereals were most likely to receive a whole grain point. About half of bread, cooked cereals, crackers and savory snacks did as well. Most sweet baked foods, other desserts, snack/meal bars and candy did not score a whole grain point. Beans, legumes, vegetables and fruit do not contain whole grains.

The study appeared April 2 in the journal Nutrients.  Potatoes USA, a marketing organization for US potato farmers, funds the Quality Carbohydrate Coalition.

Members of the Quality Carbohydrate Coalition’s scientific advisory council include Adam Drewnowski, PhD, from the University of Washington in Seattle; Matthieu Maillot from the Faculté de Médecine La Timone in Marseille, France; Yanni Papanikolaou from Nutritional Strategies, Inc., Paris, Ont.; Julie Miller Jones, PhD, from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn.; Judith Rodriguez, PhD, from the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Fla.; Joanne Slavin, PhD, from the University of Minnesota in St. Paul; Siddhartha S. Angadi, PhD, from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.; and Kevin B. Comerford, PhD, from OMNI Nutrition Science in Davis, Calif.