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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Davis, California » Western Human Nutrition Research Center » Obesity and Metabolism Research » Research » Research Project #438943

Research Project: Identifying the Role of Pulses in a Healthful Diet: Metabolomic Signatures of Dietary Pulses and their Benefits on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors

Location: Obesity and Metabolism Research

Project Number: 2032-51530-025-052-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 30, 2020
End Date: Oct 1, 2024

Pulses are moderate energy density foods that are high in multiple nutritive factors including soluble and insoluble fibers. Modest pulse consumption has been associated with health benefits including improvements in glycemic control and reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, suggesting that increasing consumption of pulses could have positive health benefits in the general population. These effects may either be associated with direct physiological impacts, or through secondary effects mediated by the microbiome. Dietary fiber is a key determinant of the gut microbial community structure and function. Currently, pulse intake assessments are based largely on dietary recalls, and thus do not reflect interindividual variability in digestive and microbial actions that may modulate the impact of exposure. Since these impacts include the physiological responses to pulse consumption, the development of novel tools for the empirical assessment of postprandial responses to pulse intake have the potential to power investigations into the health benefits of pulse consumption. The overall goal of this research proposal is to evaluate how pulse digestion/microbial fermentation influence the circulating and excreted metabolome and how these changes are associated with changes in the gut microbial community and glycemic control in overweight-obese individuals fed a pulse rich diet. To achieve this goal, we have established the following research objectives: Objective 1: Using a randomized controlled feeding study, develop food exposure signatures for pulse enriched diets. Objective 2: Determine if a pulse enriched diet meeting the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines improves glucose regulation in persons at-risk for metabolic disease.

The plan to accomplish the project goals provides a unique opportunity to both identify biomarkers of pulse intake and relate the intake of dietary pulses and their metabolic signatures with improvements in human health. Although the objectives are independent of each other, we utilize the DGA4ME randomized controlled trial as means to integrate the project to focus on the following 3 priority research areas: 1. Determine the role of pulse food consumption in a healthy diet with an emphasis on the biological mechanisms and impact on key health endpoints (e.g., glycemic control, cardiovascular risk factors, obesity/overweight, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, or microbiome composition). 2. Conduct well-designed and adequately controlled studies in humans that provide definitive data regarding the nutritional/health benefits of pulses as a component of a healthy diet. 3. Identify biomarkers of intake for various pulses.