Six carotenoids in plasma used to assess recommended intake of fruits and vegetables in a controlled feeding study.Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Aug; 58(8):1166-73.EJ
There is a need for objective and universally applicable biomarkers for the intake of foods believed to affect human health.
The purpose of this feeding study was to test whether plasma concentrations of carotenoids could be used to distinguish recommended consumption of mixed fruits and vegetables (five a day) from the current national intake of fruits and vegetables (two a day).
A strict crossover design was chosen to correct for observed interindividual variations in carotenoid response. A total of 40 healthy subjects were included in the study. After 1 week run-in period with no fruits and vegetables in the diet, one group was given two portions (300 g) of fruits and vegetables daily, while another group was given five portions (750 g) for 14 days. Following a 2 week wash-out period and 1 week run-in, the regimens were switched between the groups. Fruits and vegetables were combined to match a typical Norwegian diet.
Enhanced intake from two to five portions of mixed fruits and vegetables increased plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene (P=0.033) and lutein (P=0.051) in a crossover analysis. Analysis of data in the parallel part of the study revealed differences between the high and low intake for plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene (P=0.013) and beta-carotene (P=0.016). A trend was also evident for plasma concentrations of lycopene (P=0.057) and lutein (P=0.076) in the parallel analysis. No effect of high vs low intake of fruits and vegetables was observed for plasma concentrations of beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, cholesterol and triacylglycerols.
The study indicates that plasma concentration of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein may be used to assess changes of fruit and vegetable intake corresponding to an increase from the present national intake in Norway to the recommended amount of five portions of fruits and vegetables daily.
Norwegian Research Council, National Nutrition Council, Throne Holst Foundation for Nutrition Research and Freia Chokoladefabriks Medisinske Fond.