Are you eating too many low-quality carbs every day?

In a new study, researchers found despite years of steady advice and guidance on healthy eating, adults are still consuming too many low-quality carbohydrates and more saturated fat than recommended.

They found that low-quality carbohydrates from refined grains, starchy vegetables, and added sugars accounted for 42% of the typical American’s daily calories.

High-quality carbs, from whole grains and whole fruits, accounted for only 9%.

The research was conducted by a team from Tufts University and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study drilled down into consumption trends of specific nutrients, such as plant-based protein and saturated fatty acids, which the researchers said provide insights on how changes in food sources might offer health benefits.

The team examined the diets of 43,996 adults using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

They found during the past 18 years, total carbohydrate intake went down 2%, and Americans were successful in cutting back on low-quality carbs by 3%.

However, consumption of healthier, high-quality carbs increased by only 1%.

In addition, total fat intake increased by 1%, half of which was saturated fat. Total saturated fat intake represented 12% of daily calories, which is above the recommended daily amount of 10%.

The researchers note that any dietary improvements were less pronounced for older people and those of lower income or educational attainment.

While most Americans improved adherence to dietary guidelines, there was no improvement seen for adults over 50 years old, people with less than high school education, and those living below the poverty line.

The team sys although there are some encouraging signs that the American diet improved slightly over time, there is still a long way from getting an ‘A’ on this report card.

These findings also highlight the need for interventions to reduce socioeconomic differences in diet quality so that all Americans can experience the health benefits of an improved diet.

One author of the study is Fang Fang Zhang, a nutrition epidemiologist at Tufts University

The study is published in JAMA.

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