Low-Quality Carbs Account for 42% of Americans’ Daily Calories

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Hamburgers, shakes, and fries, these are enduring icons of American cuisine. Despite years of advice and guidance on healthy eating, Americans just can’t stop loving fast food.



The latest study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) shows that adults are still consuming too many low-quality carbs and more saturated fat than recommended.



About the study


In the study, the researchers examined the diets of 43,996 adults using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2016. Their average age was 47 years, and 52% were female.



It turned out that though Americans were successful in cutting back on low-quality carbs by 3%, these low-quality carbs still account for 42% of daily calories. On the other hand, high-quality carbs only account for 9%.


Over the same period, total fat intake went up by 1%. Half of this increase was due to saturated fat, which now accounts for 12% of daily calories. This figure is above the 10% maximum in the U.S. dietary guidelines.


The researchers also noted that people with lower income or lower education levels showed fewer dietary improvements.



"Although there are some encouraging signs that the American diet improved slightly over time, we are still a long way from getting an 'A' on this report card. Our study tells us where we need to improve for the future," said co-senior author Fangfang Zhang.



What you can learn


"Low-quality carbs are associated with disease risk, taking in higher-quality carbs could mean better health for Americans in the future," said first author on the study, Zhilei Shan.


Low-quality carbs can make you more prone to diseases because they are high in refined sugars, saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fats, while high-quality carbs can bring you healthier benefits. Typical high-quality carbs include:






Whole grains, especially cooked whole grains


In addition, according to the study, most of the proteins that Americans consumed were from meats — including red and processed meat. Healthier proteins consumed from seafood and healthy plant sources remained a much smaller proportion. To consume healthier proteins, you should eat:





Soy products

Nuts and seeds


So, Americans, give up your snacks, desserts, pizza, fast food sandwiches, and sugar sweetened beverages, and turn to some healthier foods. Those are the real foods that can bring you a happy life.


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6 Answers

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I once tried that healthy diet, with cucumber, green leafy, carrot, I was told eating them reduce my risk of diabetes. Oh, my, I would rather have diabetes. Hand the burger to me please!!
I stand six hours a day at work, I think I deserve a scoop of ice cream or a piece of chocolate cake.

without snacks, desserts, pizza, fast food sandwiches, and sugar sweetened beverages, are we still americans?

Can't imagine if McDonald's sells boiled beef instead of burgers.
hey, according to those rules of healthy diets, then the whole world can only have one single diet. this is creep.
Just as there are good fats and bad fats, there are good carbs and bad carbs.  At age 72, I’ve lost 50 lbs by eating a wiser choice of foods and moderately exercising.  I also ate less, but did eat anything I wanted in the “bad category”. My model is, you can eat anything you want if you only eat half of your usual volume (e.g. half a piece of cake).