Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Food Components and Health Laboratory » Research » Research Project #436407

Research Project: Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion of Food Components and their Impact on Chronic Disease Risk

Location: Food Components and Health Laboratory

2023 Annual Report

Objective 1: Determine the genotype, phenotype and food matrix factors that influence absorption, distribution, metabolism or excretion of glucosinolates, phenolics, and other food components. Objective 2: Determine how consumption of foods and food components, including but not limited to glucosinolates, phenolics, and carotenoids, modulate inflammatory and metabolic pathways that affect risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic disease.

U.S. agriculture provides us with myriad dietary components that can have a significant impact on health. The human diet contains thousands of bioactive food components which have a multitude of physiologic actions, some of which can interrupt processes in the development of a host of chronic diseases. The goal of this project plan is to enhance the understanding of physiologic actions of diet-based bioactive compounds to improve their absorption and efficacy in promoting health and preventing disease. We have organized this project to address current and emerging nutrition issues while capitalizing on the experience and expertise of the research team assigned to this project. We will address the following factors for several different categories of food components and bioactives: how much of a dietary component we absorb from the food, how well we retain and utilize that dietary component, and how the bioactive compounds function in the body (mechanisms of action) to prevent the most significant modifiable health risks faced by American adults, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Bioactive compounds will include polyphenols, carotenoids, and sulfur compounds from Brassica vegetables, because all demonstrate promising health benefits, and work with these compounds capitalizes on previous progress in our laboratory.

Progress Report
This report is for project 8040-51000-059-000D entitled "Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion of Food Components and their Impact on Chronic Disease Risk." The project contributes to National Program 107 and focuses on Component 1 Linking Agricultural Practices and Beneficial Health Outcomes, Component 3 (Scientific Basis for Dietary Guidance), and Component 4 (Prevention of Obesity and Obesity-Related Diseases) through human studies focusing on Brassica vegetables, whole grains, and berries. For Objective 1, a study of whole grains (oats and wheat) was completed to investigate how the processing of grains impacts the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of phenolics (5-n-alkylresorcinols, avenanthramides, saponins) found in whole grains. Biospecimens were analyzed to determine the concentration of phenolics in blood after consumption of oats and wheat as well as bacterial metabolites from isolated from fecal samples. Statistical analyses of these data were performed and preparation of manuscripts describing the research findings was initiated. Determining the intake of whole grains (through biomarkers) will facilitate a better understanding of their health effects. The absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of vitamin D in pregnant women were studied in collaboration with scientists at Cornell University. During pregnancy, the blood pool of the active form of vitamin D increases throughout most of the pregnancy period. Why or how this phenomenon occurs is unknown, but it likely represents an important adaptation to the growing child's health. A new lab method was developed to measure the amount of the isotopically labeled vitamin forms in the body. It was found that the women in the study had marked variability in their vitamin D metabolism and that a protein called "vitamin D binding protein" had the greatest influence on the vitamin D metabolism. The new method developed in this work will allow further studies of vitamin D metabolism in various populations, including pregnant and nonpregnant women. Lab analysis of samples from human dietary intervention studies of brassica vegetables (kale and broccoli) continues. These studies focused on how food preparation methods might alter the absorption, metabolism, and excretion of bioactive isothiocyanates derived from these foods. For Objective 2, analysis of data from a dietary intervention study of berries was completed. Specifically, investigations at the mitochondrial level have been analyzed to determine how berry and berry components might alter critical energy metabolism pathways at the cellular level. Differences were observed in multiple respiration states of mitochondria with the greatest differences being between the food preparations with high berry pigments verses high fiber. These results confirm the influence of berry treatments on bioenergetics in humans. Effects appear to be different for different berry components, and differ between the fasted and fed state. This research identifies how changes in metabolism at the cellular level might explain some of the bodyweight-related changes that have been observed following berry consumption. Research was initiated to characterize carotenoid and related compounds in corn samples. This collaborative research is being conducted to include enhanced data in USDA’s Food DataCentral. Results demonstrated how processing affects components in corn, including identification of unknown carotenoids that appeared with processing.


Review Publications
Baer, D.J., Dalton, M., Blundell, J., Finlayson, G., Hu, F.B. 2023. Nuts, energy balance and body weight. Nutrients. 15:1162-1179.
Shinn, L.A., Mansharamani, A., Baer, D.J., Novotny, J., Charron, C.S., Khan, N.A., Zhu, R., Holscher, H.D. 2022. Fecal metabolites as biomarkers for predicting food intake in healthy adults. Journal of Nutrition. 152:2956-2965.
Solverson, P., Albaugh, G.P., Debelo, H., Ferruzzi, M.G., Baer, D.J., Novotny, J. 2023. Mixed berry juice and cellulose fiber have differential effects on peripheral blood mononuclear cell respiration in overweight adults. Nutrients. 15(7):1709-1724.
Mandalari, G., Gervasi, T., Rosenberg, D.W., Lapsley, K.G., Baer, D.J. 2023. Effect of nuts on the gastrointestinal health. Nutrients. 15:1733-1749.