Serum Metabolites Associated with Healthy Diets in African Americans and European Americans

Hyunju Kim, Emily A. Hu, Kari E Wong, Bing Yu, Lyn M. Steffen, Sara B. Seidelmann, Eric Boerwinkle, Josef Coresh, Casey M. Rebholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: High diet quality is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases. Metabolomics can be used to identify objective biomarkers of diet quality.

OBJECTIVES: We used metabolomics to identify serum metabolites associated with 4 diet indices and the components within these indices in 2 samples from African Americans and European Americans.

METHODS: We studied cross-sectional associations between known metabolites and Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2015, Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI)-2010, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Trial (DASH) diet, alternate Mediterranean diet (aMED), and their components using untargeted metabolomics in 2 samples (n1 = 1,806, n2 = 2,056) of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study (aged 45-64 y at baseline). Dietary intakes were assessed using an FFQ. We used multivariable linear regression models to examine associations between diet indices and serum metabolites in each sample, adjusting for participant characteristics. Metabolites significantly associated with diet indices were meta-analyzed across 2 samples. C-statistics were calculated to examine if these candidate biomarkers improved prediction of individuals in the highest compared with lowest quintile of diet scores beyond participant characteristics.

RESULTS: Seventeen unique metabolites (HEI: n = 6; AHEI: n = 5; DASH: n = 14; aMED: n = 2) were significantly associated with higher diet scores after Bonferroni correction in sample 1 and sample 2. Six of 17 significant metabolites [glycerate, N-methylproline, stachydrine, threonate, pyridoxate, 3-(4-hydroxyphenyl)lactate)] were associated with ≥1 dietary pattern. Candidate biomarkers of HEI, AHEI, and DASH distinguished individuals with highest compared with lowest quintile of diet scores beyond participant characteristics in samples 1 and 2 (P value for difference in C-statistics <0.02 for all 3 diet indices). Candidate biomarkers of aMED did not improve C-statistics beyond participant characteristics (P value = 0.930).

CONCLUSIONS: A considerable overlap of metabolites associated with HEI, AHEI, DASH, and aMED reflects the similar food components and similar metabolic pathways involved in the metabolism of healthy diets in African Americans and European Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.


  • biomarkers
  • diet indices
  • diet quality
  • dietary patterns
  • general population
  • metabolomics
  • Metabolomics
  • Diet Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • African Americans
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Male
  • Biomarkers/urine
  • Female
  • Diet/standards

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


Dive into the research topics of 'Serum Metabolites Associated with Healthy Diets in African Americans and European Americans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this