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Quality of Carbohydrates, Protein Has Improved in U.S. Diet

1999 to 2016 saw drop in percent of energy intake from low-quality carbs, increase from high-quality carbs

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From 1999 to 2016, the percentage of energy intake from low-quality carbohydrates decreased and that from high-quality carbohydrates and plant protein increased, according to a study published in the Sept. 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Zhilei Shan, M.D., Ph.D., from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and colleagues examined trends in dietary macronutrient intake, food sources, and diet quality using data from nine National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cycles (1999 to 2016) among 43,996 adults (aged ≥20 years).

The researchers observed a decrease in estimated energy from total carbohydrates from 52.5 to 50.5 percent, while increases were seen in total protein and total fat from 15.5 to 16.4 percent and from 32.0 to 33.2 percent, respectively. There was a 3.25 percent decrease in the estimated energy from low-quality carbohydrates, from 45.1 to 41.8 percent. The estimated energy from high-quality carbohydrates, plant protein, saturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats increased by 1.23, 0.38, 0.36, and 0.65 percent, respectively. An increase was noted in the estimated overall Healthy Eating Index 2015 from 55.7 to 57.7. The trends seen in high- and low-quality carbohydrates were mainly due to higher estimated energy from whole grains and reduced estimated energy from added sugars; trends in plant protein reflected increased intake of whole grains and nuts.

“Despite improvements in macronutrient composition and diet quality, continued high intake of low-quality carbohydrates and saturated fat remained,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and nutrition industries.

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